Each and every day, with the exception of Monday’s (off days for all minor league baseball teams), Dave Mullen will be picking the top three stars from the minor leagues from the day prior. Today we feature prospects from the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, and the Atlanta Braves.
The minor leagues are some of the most important and sometimes most ignored leagues. An organizations best prospects and even role players are throughout four or five different levels. With so much baseball happening on a daily basis, stars will emerge. Some of the names, you will know. Some of the names you will not know. We can guarantee that you will be more knowledgeable about your teams prospects if you are a daily reader.
Zac Veen – 20 years old – Spokane Indians – Colorado Rockies
The 6’4” left hand hitting outfielder has been a top prospect in Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies organization since being drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft. At age-19, in his first professional season, Veen racked up 478 plate appearances in 106 games. Veen absolutely showed out in his first taste of minor league baseball after seeing high school competition previously. Over those 106 games, Veen hit an impressive .301/.399/.901. Not unexpectedly, Zac Veen’s numbers have declined as he is facing stiffer competition at the High-A level.
In 2022, Veen has slashed a respectable .260/.367/.794 but has continued to maintain not only his power but his overall production at the plate in the minor league baseball system. With about half as many plate appearances as last year (229 in 2022), Veen has smashed seven homeruns along with 11 doubles. Most impressive is his success on the base paths. Veen has been thrown out only once in 23 stolen base attempts.
Last night, Zac Veen had two hits in five at-bats. Those two hits were his sixth and seventh homeruns of the year, respectively. He also accumulated four runs batted in bringing his season total to 34.
Veen entered the 2020 draft as the best high school bat available. He has not disappointed. Coming out of high school, Veen’s hit tool was graded as plus-plus by many scouts. His raw power lagged a little bit behind but for all intents and purposes it is a plus-plus tool as well. Veen has already seen two levels of competition within two years. It is not out of the realm of possibility for the Colorado Rockies to bring Veen up in late 2023.
Kyle Muller – 24 years old – Gwinnett Stripers – Atlanta Braves
Although 24-year-old starting pitcher Kyle Muller has had a taste of the major leagues, he is still considered a prospect despite splitting time with the minor league baseball system. Muller had a cup of coffee with the major league team in 2021 and one start in 2022. His 2021 production was a lot better, in the majors, than in 2022. In his only major league start of 2022, Muller lasted a measly 2 2/3 innings with an atrocious seven earned runs allowed on only four hits. Muller was demoted after that game to continue working on his craft.
Last night, Muller turned it around in Triple-A with the Gwinnett Stripers. Over seven innings, Muller showed Braves brass why he is a top prospect. Muller scattered four hits, allowing only one earned run and striking out 11. Muller put up a big, fat egg in the walk column showing off his improved command.
With Gwinnett, Muller has dominated over 62 1/2 innings only allowing 53 hits and 21 walks compared to 84 strikeouts. He has given up six homeruns in Triple-A so far which is a bit concerning as his current pace will lead him to a career high in homeruns allowed. Homeruns allowed is an indicator for scouts and analysts that Muller is not hitting his spots. He is leaving balls up in the strike zone or leaving balls out over the plate. Muller must minimize those costly mistakes to be successful at the major league level.
Elly De La Cruz – 20 years old – Dayton Flyers – Cincinnati Reds
20-year-old infielder Elly De La Cruz has continued to have a hot bat. Last night was no different. De La Cruz had three hits in five plate appearances last night while scoring two runs. De La Cruz included a double, homerun, single and stolen base filling up his entire stat line. These numbers are not foreign to De La Cruz. Signed out of the Dominican Republic, he has always possessed plus batting skills.
Facing competition that is two and a half years older than him, De La Cruz has excelled. Through 213 plate appearances at the High-A level, Cruz is slashing an impressive .300/.343/.938 to go along with a career high in homeruns (already) with 12. De La Cruz’s power has really taken off this year as evidenced by his career high in homeruns with about half of the season complete. Further, De La Cruz has shown off his gap to gap power with 11 doubles and six triples already.
Standing at a towering 6’5” and weighing in at 200 pounds, De La Cruz represents the new generation of infielders. No longer will we see taller baseball players relegated to the outfield. De La Cruz is smashing that stereotype by possessing a plus-arm and athleticism allowing him to stay at short stop for the entirety of his career.