The Major and Minor League Baseball seasons are fast approaching. Opening Day at the Major League level is slated for March 30, with Minor League competition starting in the subsequent days and weeks.
Seven former Mountaineers are scattered around diamonds in Arizona and Florida, taking part in Spring Training (or rehabbing, in one case) with their big league clubs.
MLB.com recently released its prospect rankings list for all 30 MLB clubs. A total of six former Mountaineers are rated as one of their teams’ top 30 prospects.
Paul McIntosh – Miami Marlins
Prospect Ranking: 28
McIntosh, the former West Virginia slugging catcher and DH, has turned into quite the story within the Marlins minor league system. Miami signed McIntosh in the summer of 2021 as an undrafted free agent. With just one and a half years of professional baseball under his belt, McIntosh has gone from UDFA to spring training invitee and is now one of the top 30 prospects within the Marlins’ farm system. The WVU product hit 13 home runs and drove in 51 runs at the dish last year in Double-A.
Michael Grove – Los Angeles Dodgers
Prospect Ranking: 24
The Wheeling, West Virginia native got his call to The Show last season. Grove made seven appearances and six starts on a big league mound for the Dodgers in 2022. He pitched to mixed results at both the major and minor league levels. Grove is in Spring Training with the Dodgers, trying to stay at the top of manager Dave Roberts’ list of pitching options not already stalwarts in the rotation. The good news: Grove is part of LA’s 40-man roster.
Jacob Watters – Oakland Athletics
Prospect Ranking: 30
The Athletics selected Watters in the fourth round of the 2022 draft after he pitched in multiple roles for the Mountaineers last spring. Watters appeared in just three games after being drafted, but advanced to High-A by the end of the MiLB season. The 22-year-old right-hander, who just celebrated his birthday last week, has been pegged as a starting pitcher by the A’s. A former NCBWA Stopper of the Year candidate, Watters will now look to rise through the minors by starting games instead of finishing them.
Ryan Bergert & Jackson Wolf – San Diego Padres
Wolf Prospect Ranking: 16
Bergert Prospect Ranking: 25
Of all the former Mountaineer baseball players still considered prospects, none rank as high as Wolf. The Padres’ 2021 fourth-round pick checks in at No. 16 in the organization’s top 30 prospects list. Wolf made it to Double-A by the end of last season, though he surrendered 17 home runs across his 25 outings on the mound. That, and his velocity, are two areas he’ll need to improve this season to continue rising through the Padres’ farm system.
Taken two rounds after Wolf, Bergert spent most of last year with his college teammate in High-A Fort Wayne. Bergert struck out 129 batters in 103 innings in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery. San Diego scouts and executives will track Bergert’s performance this year to see how well the elbow holds up another year removed from surgery.
Victor Scott II – St. Louis Cardinals
Prospect Ranking: 29
The single-season steals leader in WVU baseball program history, Victor Scott II has cracked into the top 30 of the Cardinals prospects list. Scott made his first start in Spring Training on Monday, going 1-2 with a pair of walks and scoring a run. Still early in his pro baseball career, Scott is likely to begin this season in either Single-A or High-A. However, his speed has certainly caught the attention of decision-makers in St. Louis, meaning he’s a candidate to rise quickly if production at the plate matches his speed.