One MLB-Ready Prospect Who Could Fill Each Contender's Biggest Need
With two months left in the 2012 season, pennant races are becoming increasingly defined throughout baseball. While some teams are pondering what they must do to retain the lead in their division, others are simply doing everything they can to catch those in first place.
When the rosters expand to 40 players in September, every organization will be able selectively draw from its farm system with the hope that its future talent may aid its present effort.
Here is a look at one prospect from each contending organization that may help his respective team down the stretch of the season.
National League East
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Atlanta Braves: Julio Teheran, RHP
Since the injury to Brandon Beachy, the Braves haven’t been able to solidify the back end of their starting rotation. Sure, Ben Sheets has done a tremendous job since coming out of the woodwork, but the long-term answer is Teheran, who is still only 21 years old.
The right-hander is in the midst of a disappointing year at Triple-A Gwinnett, but maybe a promotion is the boost he needs.
Washington Nationals: Christian Garcia, RHP
Although the Nationals have a well-rounded team with depth at nearly every position, they could still use extra help in the bullpen. Garcia has been in the minor leagues since 2004 and had several stints on the disabled list with injuries; he even missed the entire 2007 season.
However, he’s been lights-out this season, posting a 1.35 ERA and 12.60 K/9 at Double-A and now a 0.39 ERA and 11.96 K/9 at Triple-A. He spent most of his early career as a starter but has proven to be an effective reliever since a conversion in 2010.
National League Central
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Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton, SS
The Reds may not have a position to offer Hamilton at the moment, but they could still mine his value over the final two months of the season. Why not call him up solely to run? Best-case scenario, he receives a few starts here and there to spell an ailing Brandon Phillips.
Either way, Hamilton’s speed is one of the most prominent tools in baseball, and the Reds should considering utilizing it down the final stretch of the season.
St. Louis Cardinals: Shelby Miller, RHP
Miller has been far too hittable this season at Triple-A, as the promising right-hander has allowed 114 hits and 20 home runs in 106.1 innings. Still, it could be worse, as he’s also recorded 115 strikeouts compared to 46 walks.
Over his last two outings, it appears as though Miller may have turned the corner: 14 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 16 K/0 BB.
Perhaps a late season call-up is exactly what the right-hander needs.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Gerrit Cole, RHP
The Pirates had a strong trade deadline, acquiring players like Wandy Rodriguez, Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider, who all address highly specific needs within the organization.
While their starting rotation has been incredibly solid all season, it’s hard not to consider calling up a pitcher with absolutely electric stuff like Cole’s. He’s a future ace, so it’s just a matter of how cautious they want to be with the right-hander.
National League West
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Los Angeles Dodgers: Alex Castellanos, OF/2B
The Dodgers’ farm system has little to offer at this point, as it was weak before the trade deadline and now, well, obviously a bit weaker. The organization used the trade deadline to vastly improve its on-field product.
Therefore, it may be in L.A.'s best interest to upgrade its bench by recalling Alex Castellanos (again).
Arizona Diamondbacks: Tyler Skaggs, LHP
With Trevor Bauer rebounding and healthy at Triple-A, he may be the next Diamondbacks prospect to get the call. However, left-hander Tyler Skaggs—one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the game—has also been dominant as of late.
He may not have the power arsenal like his teammate Bauer, but his curveball is nearly a double-plus offering and effective against both right- and left-handers. Basically, the Diamondbacks have two weapons to choose from in Triple-A. The only question is which one?
San Francisco Giants: Brett Bochy, RHP
Now officially closer-by-committee, the Giants' bullpen has been on thin ice as of late. Rather than trading for a reputable arm, the organization has an intriguing option in Brett Bochy, who has been fast-tracked to the major leagues since his initial draft in 2010.
This season, the 24-year-old right-hander owns a 1.74 ERA with 14 saves, 2.31 BB/9 and 11.57 K/9 in 46.2 innings. He’s got the stuff to be effective in the major leagues, and it could be time the Giants consider giving him a shot.
American League East
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New York Yankees: Mark Montgomery, RHP
With little room to improve other than at third base, the Yankees could also stand to add depth in their bullpen. Enter Mark Montgomery, who has often been compared to David Robertson due to his power arsenal and effectiveness.
In my opinion, Montgomery is a future closer, but it’s highly doubtful he’ll assume that role within the next two seasons. However, his stats this season say it all: 1.58 ERA, 0.896 WHIP, 15 saves, 14.03 K/9 and 2.98 BB/9 in 51.1 innings.
Tampa Bay Rays: Hak-Ju Lee, SS
It’s amazing that the Rays are still on the tail of the division-leading Yankees, especially after playing without Evan Longoria for the majority of the season.
Although their starting rotation and bullpen continue to keep them in the mix, something needs to be done about their inconsistent offense. More specifically, the Rays’ production from their shortstops has been lacking, and although Hak-Ju Lee is having a mediocre season at Double-A, his speed and left-handed bat may boost the offense.
Baltimore Orioles: Jon Schoop, 3B
The Orioles' third base situation has been sketchy all season. Although Jon Schoop hasn’t turned in as strong of a season as many expected, he’s still hitting for average power with 17 doubles and 13 home runs.
It was thought that the team might trade him for a starting pitcher at the deadline, but since that didn’t happen, perhaps the Orioles should consider utilizing him in the final two months of the season as they attempt to catch the Yankees.
American League Central
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Chicago White Sox: Deunte Heath, RHP
Here’s the thing about the White Sox: They really don’t have much on the farm. Seriously, it’s pretty bad. The team’s bullpen is comprised of a few veterans, but mostly young, inexperienced arms that have faltered more and more as the season has progressed.
After six years as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues, 27-year-old right-hander Deunte Heath has more experience than you’d think. He’s only been a full-time reliever since mid-2011 and has registered a 1.43 ERA, 9.85 K/9 and 2.38 BB/9 in 56.2 innings this season at Triple-A.
Detroit Tigers: Bruce Rondon, RHP
With one of the more complete teams in baseball—especially following the upgrades acquired at the trade deadline—the Tigers have little room for improvement. But as is the case with most teams on this list, they could also stand for an upgrade in their bullpen.
Bruce Rondon, a right-hander who sits in the 99-102 mph range, appears to be Detroit-bound, as he was just promoted to Triple-A Toledo. He has an absolute power arm and respectable control, and he has put together a strong season between High-A and Double-A: 1.40 ERA, 27 saves, 57 K/19 BB in 45 innings.
American League West
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Los Angeles Angels: Steve Geltz, RHP
The Angels' bullpen has struggled of late, especially since Scott Downs landed on the disabled list. After starting the season at Double-A, Steve Geltz appears to be the next in line for a relief role due to his success in Triple-A.
Overall, the right-hander has posted a combined 2.09 ERA with nine saves, 10.45 K/9 and 2.61 BB/9 in 51.2 innings between two levels.
Texas Rangers: Leonys Martin, OF
After scuffling through most of the July, the aging Rangers offense should be somewhat of a concern over the remainder of the season. If there was a place to play Jurickson Profar, I’m sure that the Rangers would at least consider it. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case.
Although he batted only .189 in 15 games with the Rangers this season, Leonys Martin is tearing it up at Triple-A and offers a left-handed bat with plus speed. His plate discipline is good enough that with enough experience in the major leagues, he should at least hit for a decent average.
Oakland Athletics: Grant Green, UTL
If only the A’s could have waited an additional week to recall Dan Straily for the sake of this article. Oh well. Even though Grant Green has posted an .804 OPS this season at Triple-A, his defensive versatility makes him a more valuable player.
Green has played everywhere this season: outfield, third base, shortstop, second base. He was drafted as a shortstop and has the athleticism; he just wasn’t a clean fit at the position. The fact that he can handle a super-utility role without sacrificing offensive production is a quality that could aid the A’s over the final two months of the season.