One of the most exciting storylines every baseball season is the young prospect that aims to have an impact in the Playoffs. Whether it's a young David Price coming out of the bullpen in the World Series, or Michael Wacha going 4-1 in the playoffs and winning NLCS MVP just 18 months removed from pitching in college, a young player taking over when it matters most is thrilling. With MLB's stars seeming to get younger and younger every year, this year is poised to give us a memorable rookie performance in the postseason.
1. Walker Buehler - RHP Dodgers
Walker Buehler is a bona fide stud. MLB.com ranks him as the 13th best prospect in baseball and he has a chance to make a real impact in October. He projects as a September call-up who, if he performs well, could be invaluable in the playoffs. Buehler is a starting pitcher, but the Dodgers rotation is strong enough without him for a playoff series. Instead, he could mimic another great Vanderbuilt pitcher and come out of the bullpen for the playoffs and have a real impact. It's always good to improve your bullpen for October, it's even better when the improvement doesn't require a trade. The Dodgers could use a left-handed reliever, but their real weapon for October could be a righty in AAA.
2. Lewis Brinson - OF Brewers
Lewis Brinson could help the Brewers in October in multiple ways. The first, and less likely, way is for him to be included in a trade for someone like Sonny Gray, or for a pair of Tigers like Justin Wilson and Ian Kinsler. Any of those players would help the Brewers get to and excel in the playoffs. But seeing as baseball's 15th overall prospect profiles as a potential star for the Brewers sooner rather than later, I don't think he'll be flipped at the deadline. Brinson should be up again by September and in October he could be a real sparkplug as a rare combination of power and speed for Milwaukee. Don't let his unsightly .097 batting average and 37% strikeout rate in the bigs this season fool you. He's been raking back in AAA, and if he can cut down on his strikeouts, he'll have an impact come this October.
3. Brent Honeywell – RHP Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay is a legitimate threat in the AL. The Astros may seem destined to win the pennant but a team hitting tons of homeruns wtih a deep pitching staff is a team I can believe in during October. Brent Honeywell is the 14th overall prospect in baseball as a starter, but that's not where his impact will be in the playoffs. The Rays may have a rotation set up for a postseason series, but Honeywell can provide value in the bullpen. His 4.23 ERA in AAA is discouraging, but his 11.59 K/9 sure looks promising for the postseason. Honewell's lights-out stuff will make getting to closer Alex Colome a hell of a lot easier.
4. Rafael Devers - 3B Boston Red Sox
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fourth-best prospect in baseball the Red Sox just called up to fill their hole at the hot corner. I recently recommended Boston trade for Mike Moustakas, but with their acquisition of Eduardo Nunez and this call-up, the Red Sox are comfortable at third going forward. Devers' .296 average in the minors and 49 total homeruns have made him an untouchable prospect and now the everyday thirdbaseman for the Sox. With Boston looking like the clear favorites to win the AL East, Devers will get his shot at October baseball. Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury both tore up the postseason in the rookie campaigns. Can Rafael Devers follow in their footsteps this season?
5. Anthony Banda - LHP Arizona Diamondbacks
Banda is the Diamondbacks' fourth-best prospect and a recent call up that could be an interesting choice for the DBacks in the second half of the season. Barring an historic collapse by the Dodgers, Arizona will likely have to use either Zack Greinke or Robbie Ray in the Wildcard game so they'll need all the pitching they can get come October. In Banda they get a young pitcher with a career 7.94 K/9 rate that can be a useful starter or a postseason lefty specialist. There may be some growing pains in August, but if Banda finds his groove by September he could help the Diamondbacks become a threat in October.
Overall, there's a good crop of young talent ready to make a difference when the playoffs roll around. Whether it's a lights-out pitcher or an impact bat, these five guys will have an impact in the postseason.