Last week, I said I was nervous about leaving James Wood out of my Five on the Verge. That's less the case this week.

Why? Well, since then, the Nationals have lost their best outfielder, Lane Thomas, to injury -- a Grade 2 MCL sprain that will likely keep him out for some time -- and their response was to call up Trey Lipscomb instead. As for Wood ...

"He's doing well, don't get me wrong, but we want him to get at-bats in Triple-A and continue to do what he's doing," manager Dave Martinez said.

It may seem like a blatant case of service time manipulation to you, but for all the talk of his improved strikeout rate and sparkling exit velocities, there's at least one reason to think Wood isn't a finished product yet. For as hard as he's hitting the ball, he has just two home runs in 96 plate appearances, and the reason why, according to FanGraphs, is that his fly-ball rate is only 18.5 percent -- microscopic, in other words.

Maybe that's a small-sample fluke. Maybe it's something Wood can improve on the fly. But it's the same issue that's getting Jordan Walker sent to the minors for a second straight year. I think at this point, the Cardinals would admit they hindered Walker's development by calling him up to soon. The Nationals don't want to make the same mistake with Wood, particularly with contention being out of the question.

Of course, no one should be surprised if Wood's major-league readiness just so happens to align with the presumptive Super Two cutoff in June, but whatever their rational, the Nationals have made it abundantly clear with this Thomas injury that they don't want Wood in the majors. And I think that will remain the case for at least another week, if not another six.

So who's in my Five on the Verge instead?


(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: .263 BA (38 AB), 2 HR, .807 OPS, 4 BB, 11 K

The hope was that Brandon Lowe's oblique injury would create a path for Caminero, albeit indirectly. The Rays' depth was being pushed to the limit, and promoting Caminero would hardly be a leap given that he already got a taste of the majors last year. But then Amed Rosario and Richard Palacios heated up, and now Joshua Lowe (oblique) and Jonathan Aranda (finger) are out on a rehab assignment. It just seems like this opportunity has passed Caminero by. Of course, I wouldn't doubt he could force a promotion with his performance at Triple-A, which has been at a dull roar so far. Again, the Rays have already popped the lid on him, so his promotion shouldn't require as much deliberation. It's why I still consider Caminero to be the top prospect to stash -- that and because I think he'll straight up mash when he does arrive.

Paul Skenes, SP, Pirates

2023 minors: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
2024 minors: 0.53 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 17 IP, 5 BB, 34 K

Skenes' first four starts at Triple-A Indianapolis this year were all about three innings in length. I've said that when we see him get stretched out to four, five and then six innings, that's when we should anticipate his arrival. Well, he just made his fifth start for Indianapolis on Wednesday ... and lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. 

"He just keeps getting better," GM Ben Cherington said prior to Wednesday's game. "We see the pitch mix coming into form. Working on efficiency when he's using the secondary, and starting to build the pitch count up now."

Speaking of pitch count, it was up to 71 this time, which was up from 65 last time, which as up from 55 the time before. So even if Wednesday's start represented the first real increase in innings, it wasn't the first increase in workload. It looks to me like a delayed ramp-up for Skenes, as I've been saying all along. There will be limitations, and the Pirates would prefer to have him contributing later in the year than earlier. We're weeks, not months, away from seeing a pitcher who doesn't just peak at 100 mph but lives there.

Max Meyer, SP, Marlins

2024 minors: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
2024 majors: 2.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 17 IP, 3 BB, 14 K

When the Marlins sent down Meyer following a three-start stretch in which he put together a 2.12 ERA and 0.82 WHIP, it was purportedly for the purposes of slowing him down. Their plan was to have him pitch once a week, going about three innings per start, and so far, they've followed through on that plan. But now they have a conflicting plan for A.J. Puk, who recently went on the IL with shoulder fatigue. They're going to bring him back as a reliever, which further strains their starting pitcher depth. In fact, as things currently stand, there are only four pitchers in their starting rotation.

Now, Roddery Munoz did get a start over the weekend and could always come back for another. Meanwhile, Braxton Garrett, who's out with his own shoulder issue, is set to resume a rehab assignment Friday after having the plug pulled the first time around. So it's not a given Meyer will be taking Puk's next turn in the rotation. But no matter who does, the depth is so strained that it's hard to imagine the Marlins' preservation plan for Meyer continuing much longer. And we obviously liked what we saw before he got sent down.

Christian Scott, SP, Mets

2023 minors: 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 87 2/3 IP, 12 BB, 107 K
2024 minors: 3.48 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 20 2/3 IP, 4 BB, 34 K

Short of Paul Skenes, no minor-league pitcher has gotten more buzz this year than Scott, and that was true even before what was his best start yet Tuesday. He allowed just one hit over a season-high 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking one. Of course, the one hit was a two-run homer, and beat writer Anthony DiComo of speculates that Scott's vulnerability to the long ball is the main reason he's not up yet. Indeed, the right-hander has already allowed six home runs across his six starts for Triple-A Syracuse. But his fly-ball tendencies are part of what makes him so good at hit prevention, and his pristine control further prevents those home runs from being of the multi-run variety. It's a Shota Imanaga-like profile, and it's one that the Mets will likely make use of sooner than later, especially if Jose Butto comes back down to earth.

Joey Loperfido, OF, Astros

2023 minors: .278 BA (467 AB), 25 HR, 27 SB, .880 OPS, 65 BB, 134 K
2024 minors: .279 BA (86 AB), 12 HR, 2 SB, 1.106 OPS, 12 BB, 32 K

After headlining last week's Prospects Report, Loperfido fell into a 2-for-24 funk, and I was tempted to bump him from my Five on the Verge in favor of Kyle Manzardo. But then he rebounded with a two-homer game Wednesday. Here's what those looked like:

Once again, both were absolute missiles, hit 457 and 427 feet, respectively. I've seen some analysts holding to the old scouting report of Loperfido being a bench bat or second-division regular, but what they're missing is that he's not just beating up on younger competition right now. He's unlocked a new level of ability. His average and max exit velocities are both up 6 mph from what we saw at Triple-A last year. I'd prefer if he was striking out less, sure, but the bat is now a high-impact one and would represent an upgrade over any of Jake Meyers, Chas McCormick and Jose Abreu, in my estimation.


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

Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Guardians

2023 minors: .236 BA (351 AB), 17 HR, .801 OPS, 55 BB, 80 K
2024 minors: .292 BA (72 AB), 5 HR, .962 OPS, 12 BB, 15 K

My Five on the Periphery aren't meant to serve as overflow for my Five on the Verge, but that's absolutely what's happening here with Manzardo, who could be up tomorrow for all I know. The Guardians are off to a 17-7 start and surely have their sights on contention in a way that wasn't so clear in the beginning, so how much longer will they settle for a revolving door of nobodies at DH? Manzardo is testing the limits with four homers over a three-game span beginning Saturday. His strikeout and walk rates are both excellent, and his zone-contact rate is up over 90 percent, showing a mastery of the strike zone that should allow for an easy transition to the majors. He was a data darling last year, too, despite the surface-level numbers suffering, and many presumed he'd be in the Guardians' opening day plans after they forfeited Aaron Civale for him at the trade deadline last year. It didn't happen then, but it will soon enough.

Orelvis Martinez, SS, Blue Jays

2023 minors: .243 BA (448 AB), 28 HR, .836 OPS, 67 BB, 126 K
2024 minors: .316 BA (76 AB), 6 HR, 1.018 OPS, 6 BB, 19 K

The Blue Jays called up Addison Barger to fill their Kevin Kiermaier opening Wednesday, but they could have just as easily turned to Orelvis Martinez, who's looking to knock down the door with six homers in his past eight games. The biggest highlight was a 469-foot grand slam April 17, hit 113.8 mph, but they've pretty much all been tape-measure shots.

Martinez has always been lauded for his power, but he's taken it to a new level this year with a max exit velocity of 115.2 mph. In fact, only five major-leaguers -- Shohei Ohtani, Giancarlo Stanton, Fernando Tatis, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Soto -- have hit a ball harder than that this year. He's been playing second base this year but also has experience at third, which are positions where the Blue Jays are presently starting Cavan Biggio and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. In other words, no one is standing in Martinez's way.

Cam Collier, 3B, Reds

2023 minors: .246 BA (390 AB), 6 HR, .705 OPS, 57 BB, 106 K
2024 minors: .288 BA (66 AB), 6 HR, .905 OPS, 3 BB, 15 K

Drafted as a 17-year-old who took the Bryce Harper path of graduating high school early and then enrolling in junior college, Collier's first full professional season was a total disappointment. His failure to launch was literal in that he put 53 percent of his batted balls on the ground, resulting in just six home runs. He's already matched that total this year in only 15 percent of the games. The launch angle is indeed much improved, and the exit velocities remain impressive for a player of his youth. Consider his Dynasty stock to be on the recovery.

Ralphy Velazquez, C, Guardians

2023 minors: .348 BA (23 AB), 2 HR, 1.132 OPS, 3 BB, 5 K
2024 minors: .352 BA (54 AB), 4 HR, 1.052 OPS, 7 BB, 15 K

Though he was announced as a catcher with the 23rd pick in last year's draft, Velazquez made just one appearance at the position last year and has made none there this year, instead spending all of his time at first base. It's a testament to his bat that the Guardians would be willing to move him so far down the positional hierarchy right away, but well, just look what he's done with that bat. He already has major league-caliber exit velocity readings as an 18-year-old at Low-A, and his strike-zone judgment earns high marks as well. Velazquez profiles as a transformative bat, in other words, and may have been buried in preseason rank lists because of defensive concerns that, frankly, aren't of actual concern to us Fantasy Baseballers.

Winston Santos, SP, Rangers

2023 minors: 6.29 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 98 2/3 IP, 26 BB, 88 K
2024 minors: 0.57 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 15 2/3 IP, 4 BB, 24 K

Santos didn't crack the Rangers' top 30 on any preseason rank list that I've seen, but he's been a revelation at High-A Hickory so far this season, most recently striking out 12 over five one-hit innings. It's not all about the whiffs either as he's thrown 70 percent of his pitches for strikes -- a George Kirby-like number. Granted, he's a 22-year-old who's probably a level or two behind where he should be, but Baseball America says there's a good reason for it. Santos suddenly has a good secondary arsenal to go with what was always a promising fastball. That's the sort of transformation that can turn a nothing pitching prospect into a real find.