MLB Prospects 2012: Mike Trout and Other Prospects Who Could Be Called Up
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Nearly 20 games into the minor league baseball season, there are numerous players who are on fire at Triple-A and on the verge of a promotion. While some teams are merely waiting for the right time to call up their big-league-ready prospect, others are waiting for a positional opening by way of injury or poor performance. Either way, the players on this list may force their organization’s hand sooner rather than later.
Here, I’ve identified seven hitters tearing up Triple-A—either in the Independent or Pacific Coast League—who could strengthen their respective team's lineup in the immediate future.
Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
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2012 Stats: 65 AB, .431/.500/.769, 14 XBH, 22 RBI, 50 TB, 8 K/9 BB
As he always does, Snider has been assaulting Pacific Coast League pitching, leading the circuit in OPS (1.269) and RBI (22). However, given the Blue Jays’ current outfielder configuration, is there any room for Snider, or is he simply boosting his value as trade bait?
Only time will tell whether the 24-year-old receives a big league promotion or spends another season uncomfortably bouncing between levels.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
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2012 Stats: 68 AB, .368/.411/.706, 9 XBH, 19 RBI, 16 K/4 BB
Rizzo now has seven home runs and six multi-hit efforts in his last 10 games. But while he may be raking, Bryan LaHair has been one of the Cubs' hottest hitters to begin the season, as he currently sports a 1.093 OPS through 36 at-bats.
The Cubs won't be calling up Rizzo unless he's guaranteed playing time, so he may have to continue feasting on Pacific Coast League pitching for the time being. Plus, Rizzo is only batting .182/.182/.318 with eight strikeouts and no walks in 22 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season. There's still some room for improvement before his Wrigley debut.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians
This may be the only known photo where Chisenhall isn't frowning
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2012 Stats: 72 AB, .319/.342/.583, 11 XBH, 12 RBI, 15/2 K/BB
After promoting him too early last season, the Indians clearly aren’t looking to repeat their error in 2012. Even though he’s crushing the ball in Triple-A, Chisenhall’s 15 strikeouts compared to only two walks are still a bit disconcerting.
It probably doesn’t help that Jack Hannahan has posted a .916 OPS in his first 12 games, no matter how unsustainable that may be.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox
2012 Stats: 66 AB, .379/.406/.742, 10 XBH, 22 RBI, 49 TB, 9 K/3 BB
Middlebrooks has homered in four straight games for Pawtucket and is 9-for-18 with 11 RBI over that span.
It may be an unpopular move to promote Middlebrooks and play him over Kevin Youkilis (or even in a platoon), but if their veteran third baseman continues to bat .190/.271/.310, the Red Sox may have no choice.
Scott Van Slyke, OF/1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
2012 Stats: 70 AB, .371/.443/.600, 10 XBH, 12 RBI, 6 K/8 BB
After finding his stroke last season and earning organizational player of the year honors, Van Slyke—yes, he’s Andy’s son—has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. He’s on the Dodgers' 40-man roster, so a September call-up is imminent.
But what will it take for him to receive a promotion before then? Perhaps the ongoing struggles of left fielder Juan Rivera (.612 OPS) and first baseman James Loney (.690 OPS) will help the big man’s cause.
Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers
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2012 Stats: 69 AB, .333/.410/.536, 8 XBH, 10 RBI, 10 K/8 BB, 4-for-9 SB
Martin continues to play well in Triple-A, but he will need an opening in the Texas outfield to get a shot before the rosters expand in September.
His lack of base-stealing aptitude could keep him in the minors longer than expected, as he’s still learning how to read pitchers and pick his spots. Granted, the season is still young, but Martin’s improved power will make it easier to ultimately get his bat in the lineup.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
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2012 Stats: 69 AB, .391/.443/.565, 16 R, 7 XBH, 11 RBI, 6 SB
Trout continues to do everything well in the outfield, at the plate and on the basepaths. However, he remains blocked by Torii Hunter (.677 OPS), Vernon Wells (.696 OPS), Bobby Abreu (.561 OPS) and Peter Bourjos (.538 OPS) in Anaheim. But given the team’s lack of pop and lofty expectations, especially from their core of veteran outfielders, it will be interesting to see how long it takes until Trout is viewed as a permanent solution.