5 MLB Players That Will Impact the 2021 Playoffs
September is a great time for MLB fans. They have an opportunity to watch their team pursue a playoff spot. For those out of playoff contention, it’s usually a good time to watch their young prospects get their first action in the majors.
In past seasons, the MLB roster expanded from 25 to 40 players on September 1. However, the MLB limited it to just 28 players this season.
While there won’t be as many, teams will still call up some of their top prospects to help with their playoff push.
With an eye on some of the younger talent and trying to win in the postseason, let’s look at the top MLB prospects that will impact the 2021 playoffs.
Nate Pearson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays farm system has taken a hit over the last few seasons as players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette graduated to the majors. However, the Jays still have a strong farm system led by right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson.
Pearson is the seventh prospect on MLB’s Pipeline. Pearson has actually already pitched in the majors but things didn’t go well.
In six appearances in 2020, here’s how Pearson fared.
- 6.00 ERA
- 1.50 WHIP
- 16 strikeouts
- 13 walks
He began the 2021 season in Triple-A, but the Blue Jays called him up to start against the Houston Astros on May 9. The start was an absolute disaster for Pearson, as he allowed three runs and walked five batters over 2 1/3 innings. Toronto sent him back down to Triple-A and he has been there ever since.
The big concern with Pearson is his injury history. A right flexor strain put a damper on his 2020 season. It’s been a similar story this season. Pearson has dealt with injuries, but he returned to Triple-A on August 16, pitching one shutout inning.
Toronto currently sits four games out of the second wild-card spot, even though they have the fifth-best run differential in the league. They have an elite offense, but the pitching needs some help.
There’s also their bullpen, which ranks ninth in the AL.
Pearson will likely join the bullpen if the Blue Jays call him up. His upper 90s fastball and swing and miss slider are ideal for a bullpen role. Once you add in a plus changeup and curveball, you have a legit rotation piece.
Last season, Pearson pitched out of the bullpen in the Blue Jays playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He struck out five batters in two innings.
An improved bullpen could push Toronto into the playoffs and maybe even the World Series.
Christian Pache, CF, Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves were struggling much of the 2021 season, but they were still in the thick of things. However, things looked bleak when MVP front runner Ronald Acuna Jr tore his ACL in July.
It appeared the Braves season was over, but they haven’t given up and lead the NL East by 1.5 games.
Acuna left a void in both the lineup and outfield that no one can fill. However, Pache may be the best option to help the Braves make the postseason.
Pache is the Braves top prospect, sitting eighth overall in the MLB Pipeline. His defense is what originally caught everyone’s attention, but his offensive tools have caught up.
Last season, Pache played in the playoffs. Here are his stats.
- .182 batting average
- 1 home run
- 4 RBIs
- 3 walks
- 4 strikeouts
Obviously not the best numbers, but his strikeout to walk ratio impressed me.
He played in 22 games earlier this season for the Braves, but he really struggled at the plate.
Since then, he returned to Triple-A and has worked on improving his bat. He has looked much better this season in Triple-A, hitting .258 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs. Pache also has elite speed on the base paths, stealing six bases this season.
Everyone knows Pache’s ability to play defense in the outfield. His strong arm will certainly make players think twice about running on him. However, the big worry is what kind of impact he can make at the plate.
Looking at his numbers, it appears he is improving when it comes to both his contact and power numbers.
If he turns into a plus hitter, the Braves could have their next great outfielder when September arrives.
Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 MLB season. There wasn’t much expected of the Giants, but they hold the best record in the majors. A big reason for that is the resurgence of catcher Buster Posey.
Joey Bart is a catcher himself. The Giants selected him with the number two pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Bart is the 15th prospect in the MLB Pipeline’s ranking. So, how does Bart fit on a Giants team that has an elite catcher?
There’s no DH in the NL, so the Giants can’t give Posey the day off behind the plate while leaving him in the lineup. At age 34, it wouldn’t hurt to give Posey a few days off down the stretch.
Bart played in 41 games for the Giants in 2020. He had a .233 batting average with seven RBIs, but he had a horrendous three walks to 41 strikeouts.
This season, he has only made six plate appearances in the majors, recording two hits and one RBI.
In Triple-A, Bart has looked much better in all aspects of his game. Check out his stats from 50 games and 194 plate appearances.
- .314 batting average
- .379 on-base percentage
- .536 slugging percentage
- 10 home runs
- 42 RBIs
- 16 walks
- 62 strikeouts
He has clearly shown a lot of improvement at Triple-A this season. I
It’s probably a smart decision to bring him up for the playoff run, so he can gain experience in that atmosphere. It’ll also give them an indication on whether his minor league success will transfer over.
This opportunity allows him to learn from one of the best catchers in the game.
I didn’t mention it earlier, but people consider Bart one of the best defensive catchers. If his success transfers over, the Giants will be even better than they already are.
Luis Campusano, C, San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are one of the most exciting teams to watch. MVP front runner Fernando Tatis Jr. leads the Padres and thrills fans with his outgoing personality. However, Tatis has missed time this season with injuries and the Padres offense needs a boost.
That’s where Luis Campusano comes in.
San Diego has a serviceable catcher in Austin Nola. Like Tatis, Nola has missed time this season with injuries. His .290 batting average and 11 walks to 10 strikeouts are great to have, but how much can you rely on him?
I’ll be honest, Campusano had an absolutely disastrous time in the majors this season. He had just three hits in 34 plate appearances. That was back in April and he has made strides since returning to Triple-A.
Check out his stats in 74 games this season in Triple-A.
- .286 batting average
- .359 on-base percentage
- .515 slugging percentage
- 12 home runs
- 40 RBIs
- 26 walks
- 59 strikeouts
I find it interesting because people say Joey Bart is a great hitter and he can become a middle-of-the-order type of player. However, Campusano doesn’t receive the same recognition. I know his numbers aren’t as good as Bart’s, but they’re serviceable enough.
His defensive ability has been holding him back in the minors. Campusano has improved over the years in that category as he aims to become a complete catcher.
San Diego needs a jolt late in the season. They have strong hitters, but the offense as a whole takes a step down without Tatis in the lineup. Campusano won’t make that big of an impact, but he’ll certainly help.
Considering the Padres are just 1.5 games up on the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot, they may have to call him up sooner than later.
Jose Barrero, SS, Cincinnati Reds
At the All-Star break, it looked like the only playoff race in the NL would be for the NL East.
However, the Cincinnati Reds’ recent surge combined with the San Diego Padres’ struggles has Cincinnati just 1.5 games back of the second wild card. The great news is help is on the way for the Reds.
Jose Barrero is the lowest-ranked prospect on this list, sitting at number 82 on MLB Pipeline. However, we know he’ll try and help the Reds this fall. Earlier this week, the Reds called up Barrero.
Barrero will attempt to give the Reds a consistent option at shortstop as they try to run down the Padres.
He played in 25 games in 2020 and like most prospects, he struggled at the plate. He hit just .194 but the most alarming thing was his one walk and 26 strikeouts.
This season, Barrero has split time between Double-A and Triple-A. Check out his stats from each stop.
|Stat||Double-A (160 PA)||Triple-A (154 PA)|
|On Base Percentage||.367||.389|
Following a disastrous 2020 season, it’s great to see him make improvements this season, even if it was in the minor leagues.
When the Reds originally signed him in the international signing period in 2016-2017, Barrero’s main tool was his defensive ability. That defensive ability is still there and he can move around in the infield and play third base if need be.
Cincinnati has had a tough time with their shortstop position this season. Eugenio Suarez has played the position the most, but he is better at third base. It doesn’t help that he has a .172 batting average this season.
The Reds can use all the help they can get to chase down the Padres. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an impact Barrero makes.
Looking Ahead to the 2021 MLB Playoffs
Except for Jose Barrero, we don’t know if any of these players will be in the majors for the 2021 MLB playoffs.
His defense gives the Cincinnati Reds a consistent option at shortstop. I also believe his hitting will improve from his 2020 stint in the majors.
If Buster Posey wasn’t having an amazing season, I definitely would’ve given the nod to Joey Bart. If called up, I think Bart will be good but I’m not sure how much he plays with Posey’s presence.
We highlighted some of the MLB’s top prospects that can make an impact in the 2021 playoffs. Now see where some of the best farm systems fall in line in my 2021 MLB team prospect rankings.