You ever wonder why we talk about "sample size" more in baseball than other sports? It's because baseball isn't like other sports, most critically in that the range of outcomes for any one game is so wide, with the results being so randomized, that there are basically no conclusions to draw from it. Only through repetitions -- several dozen, really -- do the results begin to have meaning.

But that's becoming less true for player development, where we now have reliable methods of gauging skill level beyond just the results. I think that's why we saw Jack Leiter and Andy Pages called up before I even had a chance to react to anything they were doing. Though neither was a fixture on top-100 lists coming into the season, it took only the time between my last Prospects Report and this one for them to convince their parent organizations that they had turned the corner developmentally.

For Leiter, it was the improved control and fastball shape, both products of his time spent on the developmental list last season. For Pages, it was the superlative exit velocity and plate discipline readings at Triple-A even after having shoulder surgery last season.

Of course, they both had a chance to impress upon their parent clubs in spring training, which is another reason why it took only a couple weeks of strong production to seal the deal. You know who else made a strong impression this spring? A certain Astros prospect who may be flying under the radar.

"I think Joey Loperfido definitely put himself on the map, and I think he can help us and he could definitely play at the major-league level," manager Joe Espada said when the Astros sent the 24-year-old down at the end of camp. During his time in the Grapefruit League, Loperfido hit .382 (13 for 34) with a triple, five doubles and a 1.076 OPS.

You know what he's doing now at Triple-A Sugar Land? Things like this:

The play-by-play basically sums it up. Of the 10 home runs Loperfido has already hit, most have been absolute missiles. The three he hit in Friday's game averaged 425 feet, with one coming off the bat at 113.9 mph to give him a max exit velocity identical to Yordan Alvarez so far. It's also 6 mph harder than Loperfido's max exit velocity last season, which is the clearest indication that growth has taken place. And among the many positions he plays is one where the Astros are getting no production right now, first base.

What more do they need to see? They've already given Loperfido longer than the Rangers gave Leiter and the Dodgers gave Pages, but they can only hold out so long. And as such, he now places among my ...


(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)

Junior Caminero, 3B, Rays

2023 minors: .324 BA (460 AB), 31 HR, .976 OPS, 42 BB, 100 K
2024 minors: .318 BA (22 AB), 2 HR, 1.036 OPS, 3 BB, 7 K

It took only one game back from an oblique injury for Caminero to remind everyone why he's so special:

A 425-foot home run to the opposite field is some major-league power, and of course, he's already gotten some major-league action, having contributed for the big club down the stretch last year. That's normally a precursor to being awarded an opening day job, particularly in this era of draft pick rewards, but the Rays simply didn't have an opening for him. And even with injuries to Joshua Lowe, Brandon Lowe, Jonathan Aranda and Taylor Walls, they apparently still don't.

Where's all the versatility that the Rays pride themselves on? Isaac Paredes has played other positions. Shoot, Caminero himself has dabbled at shortstop and second base. And then there's the DH spot, which is currently occupied by Harold Ramirez, who may be a competent hitter but is no one's idea of a first-division regular. This so-called problem seems like a rather easy one solve, and I think once the Rays are completely convinced that Caminero has his legs back under him after the early-season injury, they'll solve it.

Paul Skenes, SP, Pirates

2023 minors: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
2024 minors: 9 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 19 K

With Marco Gonzales going to the IL with a strained forearm, the Pirates now have an opening in their rotaton. Unfortunately, Skenes almost certainly won't be the one to fill it.

"With Paul, we've been very intentional about how we're building his volume coming into the season," GM Ben Cherington said earlier this week. "We don't want to go from zero to 100 right away."

I think Cherington was intimating what I've been outright saying the past couple weeks. The Pirates don't want Skenes to handle a full starter workload yet. It's why his outings so far at Triple-A Indianapolis have all lasted about three innings, even while he's thoroughly dominated. They don't want to have to slow or shut him down later, so instead of building him up, they're keeping him warm for an eventual buildup. When he begins extending to four and five innings, that's when you can trust that a promotion is forthcoming.

You'll notice I'm not even raising the question of performance. Skenes hit triple digits on 15 of his 55 pitches last time out, so I trust that part will take care of itself.

Max Meyer, SP, Marlins

2022 minors: 3.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 61 IP, 19 BB, 69 K
2024 majors: 2.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 17 IP, 3 BB, 14 K

Let's be honest: Meyer had earned his place in the Marlins starting rotation, and it's ridiculous that they sent him down. He was their most consistent pitcher through three turns and was coming off a defining performance against the mighty Braves, piling up 23 whiffs on 91 pitches. His slider, fastball and changeup were all looking just as strong as before his 2022 Tommy John surgery. So why was he the one to go down when Edward Cabrera was activated from the IL? Here's the official reason:

"He will pitch maybe once a week down there, three inning stints, kind of manage his innings down there so he'll be available in the second half up here," manager Skip Schumaker said, adding that "there's not an exact timeline."

So if it's mainly to manage his innings, is there any hope Meyer will be back sooner than later? Well, look, he was the next man up when Cabrera was still hurt. Braxton Garrett recently suffered a setback in his own recovery from a shoulder impingement. The Marlins don't have much margin for error, clearly. We already know Meyer is capable of making a real impact in Fantasy, so I'd prefer to stash him in leagues where I'm stashing anyone.

Joey Loperfido, OF, Astros

2023 minors: .278 BA (467 AB), 25 HR, 27 SB, .880 OPS, 65 BB, 134 K
2024 minors: .297 BA (64 AB), 10 HR, 2 SB, 1.194 OPS, 10 BB, 26 K

I've said all I had to say about Loperfido in the introduction, except why he isn't up yet. I'll leave that to GM Dana Brown:

Yes, in between all the homers, Loperfido is striking out 33 percent of the time. There's also the fact that the Astros are on the hook for Jose Abreu both this year and next and don't want to close the book on him too quickly, particularly after he bounced back from a miserable first couple months last season. But these excuses won't hold up for long. A high strikeout rate is manageable for a hitter when he's impacting the ball like Loperfido is, and in addition to Abreu at first base, the Astros have question marks in left (Chas McCormick) and center field (Jake Meyers), which are two of the other positions that Loperfido plays. If they called him up today, they could find at-bats for him no problem.

Would they be valuable for Fantasy? Well, that strikeout rate could ultimately be his downfall, I suppose, but the upside is tantalizing enough with those improved exit velocities to consider stashing him now. I haven't even mentioned yet that he stole nearly 30 bases last year.

Christian Scott, SP, Mets

2023 minors: 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 87 2/3 IP, 12 BB, 107 K
2024 minors: 3.77 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14 1/3 IP, 3 BB, 26 K

The unlikely success of Jose Butto affords the Mets the opportunity to delay Christian Scott further, but he continues to make his case at Triple-A Syracuse, striking out seven over 5 1/3 innings in his latest start Tuesday. He has nearly two per inning through three starts while walking almost no one, which is more or less just a continuation of his great work between High-A and Double-A last year. Seeing as he'll be turning 25 this summer, there's some urgency to get his big-league career off the ground, and I suspect that's exactly what will happen the next time the Mets have an opening.


(Here are some other prospects doing something of note.)

James Wood, OF, Nationals

2023 minors: .262 BA (473 AB), 26 HR, 18 SB, .873 OPS, 65 BB, 173 K
2024 minors: .340 BA (50 AB), 2 HR, 5 SB, 1.056 OPS, 13 BB, 13 K

Few prospects outshined Wood in spring training -- where the 21-year-old hit .364 with four homers, three steals and a 1.213 OPS -- and he's just kept it going at Triple-A Rochester. Most impressive is how the improved approach has carried over. Between spring training and Triple-A, he's struck out 21.7 percent of the time compared to 31.5 percent between High-A and Double-A last year. And as for the caliber of contact he's making, check out these stats:

It's reason to believe that even the rebuilding Nationals may throw caution to the wind and burn Wood's rookie eligibility this year rather than preserving it for the next. This season is still so new, and it doesn't seem like there's much left for him to accomplish at Triple-A. My hunch, though, is that they'll try to drag it out as long as they can since they're not playing for anything, maybe even until the Super Two cutoff in late June. I'm a little nervous about leaving him out of my Five on the Verge, though. The Fantasy impact of his promotion would be considerable.

Jordan Beck, OF, Rockies

2023 minors: .271 BA (487 AB), 25 HR, 20 SB, .867 OPS, 73 BB, 142 K
2024 minors: .286 BA (56 AB), 4 HR, 1 SB, 1.034 OPS, 11 BB, 16 K

Beck is another prospect who likely shortened his timeline with his performance this spring, batting .370 (10 for 27) with a triple, two doubles and a stolen base, and already he's standing out for his power and patience at Triple-A Albuquerque. He brings an element of speed as well, profiling as an impact player in Fantasy regardless of where he'll be playing his home games. But it just so happens he'll be playing his home games in arguably the best venue for maximizing hitter outcomes. The Rockies lineup is in dire straits right now, and the 22-year-old Beck is on the short list of players to bolster it midseason.

Cade Povich, SP, Orioles

2023 minors: 5.04 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 126 2/3 IP, 66 BB, 171 K
2024 minors: 1.10 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 16 1/3 IP, 5 BB, 24 K

I already wrote about Povich in my Five on the Periphery last week, which perhaps makes his inclusion here overkill, but what I failed to stress then is that he's already looking like one of the biggest breakouts among minor-league pitchers this year. His latest outing Friday was his most dominant yet. He allowed just one hit in 5 1/3 innings, striking out 10, and in all, he's allowed just four hits in 16 1/3 innings, striking out 24. That's a level of dominance rarely seen over any three-start stretch, but particularly at the highest level of the minors. The left-hander has been reluctant to attack hitters in the past because of a so-so fastball, but he's proving to himself and the Orioles that his other four pitches are enough to carry him.

Agustin Ramirez, C, Yankees

2023 minors: .271 BA (424 AB), 18 HR, 12 SB, .819 OPS, 61 BB, 85 K
2024 minors: .256 BA (39 AB), 7 HR, 2 SB, 1.178 OPS, 7 BB, 8 K

It was a close call coming into the year which of the Yankees upper-level catcher prospects, Ben Rice or Agustin Ramirez, was more overlooked, but Ramirez is the one demanding to be noticed so far this year. In just 10 games, he's already homered seven times. The power indicators were always there -- and he was no pushover last year, it's worth noting -- but he's putting almost nothing on the ground right now. In particular, he's excelled at driving the ball to the opposite field. Judging by his defensive ratings, Ramirez will be hard-pressed to remain behind the plate, but he's looking like such a masher at this point that he may have a future in Fantasy regardless.

Jonah Tong, SP, Mets

2023 minors: 6.00 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 21 IP, 22 BB, 38 K
2024 minors: 8 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 21 K

Tong was unknown to me two weeks ago and left out of the Mets' top 30 by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, but his first two starts were so impressive that he's worth a mention here for those deepest of Dynasty leagues. Both times, he had double-digit strikeouts in less than five innings, combining for an absurd 22 percent swinging-strike rate. The 20-year-old has a minimal arsenal featuring a mid-90s fastball to go along with a cutter, but it's clear that those pitches have some special characteristics. A move up to High-A is likely forthcoming and should tell us more.