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Bite Watch: Who will shine in the Minors?
Our pick of the talent from Rookie Ball to AAA
04/06/2018 11:06 PM ET
Taking a Bite out of the Wood Ducks: Josh Altmann, LeDarious Clark, Steve Mintz and James Jones are all at Down East for 2018.
Taking a Bite out of the Wood Ducks: Josh Altmann, LeDarious Clark, Steve Mintz and James Jones are all at Down East for 2018. 

Minor League Baseball is back! From the rookie level to Triple-A level there's past and present Bite players, including three Adelaide locals in Jack O'Loughlin, Jordan McArdle and Josh Tols.

We've already had a look at the MLB level players to watch, now let's take a look at some who are knocking on the door of a call-up, or those just starting.

Jordan McArdle (Arizona Diamondbacks) & Jack O'Loughlin (Detroit Tigers)

Our rookie pairing will be set for vastly different seasons, but each young gun has something to prove. The Diamondbacks will be hoping first baseman Jordan McArdle can start hitting with more consistency after the 19-year-old went .191 in 33 games during 2017. Promisingly, McArdle finished hot with a .314 average over his final 10 games for their Arizona League side and with even more experience 2018 should be a good one.

For 18-year-old Jack O'Loughlin, 2018 brings plenty of excitement. He signed over a year ago and the move to the USA has been hotly anticipated for all Bite fans. He'll join Detroit's Gulf Coast League team and while it's hard to know where he will pitch, the day-to-day routine will strengthen his arm even more.

Brandon Dixon (Cincinnati Reds)

Cincinnati has seen a lot of promise from Dixon since trading for him as a part of a three-team trade back in 2015. Dixon then hit .260 at Double-A Pensacola in 2016 and .264 for Triple-A Louisville. Once again he's a non-roster invitee to Spring Training and the signs are good for the former second baseman, who's found a new home at third for Louisville.

It will be a tough infield to break into, though, but Dixon is a ready-made hitter. During Spring Training he hit .326 over 27 games and after four Spring Trainings he is only getting better. Whether he gets a chance early or late on, the 26-year-old is in peak form, although his biggest obstacle will be competing MLB's No. 7 prospect Nick Senzel for a call-up.

Kevin Comer (Detroit Tigers)

Last year was a breakout campaign for Comer with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies (Houston Astros) where he went 5-4 across 43 relief appearances with a 3.68 ERA. For a player with only 17 innings to his name at Double-A, the move up to Fresno truly was a do-or-die moment where he had to succeed. Comer not only succeeded, but excelled as he was named their Pitcher of the Year with 74 strikeouts in 63 innings.

At the end of 2017, though, he elected free agency and was snapped up by Detroit in late November. He'll pitch for the Toledo Mud Hens in the International League (making the Triple-A league switch) while he'll also get a taste of Spring Training with the Tigers as a non-roster invitee.

Travis Demeritte (Atlanta Braves)

The 23-year-old is arguably at a crossroads. At times he can be the big hitter, crushing home runs, other times he's striking out - a problem that comes with power hitters. After averaging .231 for the Mississippi Braves last year he was below his best in terms of power but he brought down that high strikeout rate.

Demeritte has slipped down the pecking order slightly at the Braves, but still sits at No. 21 in their prospects list. He'll be competing/playing alongside their No. 8 prospect Austin Riley which provides some direct comparisons if there is a decision to be made about promoting one to Triple-A. Still, the focus will be for a consistent season and fewer strikeouts again, rather than just trying to better than someone else.

Josh Altmann, LeDarious Clark & James Jones (Texas Rangers)

This trio makes the Class A Down East Wood Ducks the team to watch for Bite supporters, with the three former imports joining up for 2018. With Steve Mintz returning as Pitching Coach as well, he will help Jones considerably in what should be his first full season in the bullpen.

Jones, 29, has battled some injury during his transition to pitching but the Rangers have held firm and now he looks ready to make an impact. Altmann, 23, and Clark, 24, are also hitting their strides after putting in the hard work during 2017. If we look at them as a pair, there's power, consistency and leadership, particularly in Altmann who brings everything you could ask for in a first baseman.

Clark, Meanwhile, is the big hitter and with a home run already in 2018 (a lead-off, first pitch homer in the first inning of an 8-1 win) he is here to do some damage.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.