As we get closer to September 1, when the active MLB roster expands from 25 to 40 players, teams are busy reviewing their potential call-ups while writers and fans alike speculate endlessly.
Most teams will take advantage of the roster expansion by promoting players already on their 40-man roster, therefore eliminating the need to either demote or release an active player. At the same time, some teams will be forced to clear space to make room for their impact prospect.
As you’ve probably noticed over the past two weeks, I’ve been offering my thoughts and predictions on this topic. To familiarize everyone with some of the highly touted prospects on the verge of debut, I’ve created GIFs to highlight some of their respectively outstanding tools.
RHP Dylan Bundy’s Two-Seam Fastball
Bundy features a 94-to-98 mph four-seam fastball that has scraped triple digits, as well as a low-90s two-seamer with considerable arm-side run—as you can see. Unlike most 19-year-old pitchers, he already has both a feel for and knowledge of how to manipulate his fastball, working both sides of the plate and changing the hitter’s eye level.
SS Billy Hamilton’s Record-Breaking Speed
Having already eclipsed last year’s high-water mark for stolen bases (103), Hamilton had 80 stolen bases by the High-A All-Star break. What he is doing on the basepaths is absolutely amazing.
For those of you who may be wondering, Vince Coleman holds the minor league single-season stolen-base record of 145, set in 1983. Hamilton currently has 143 and will break the record this week.
Given his speed, there’s a chance that the Reds may be forced to consider using him as a base-stealing threat off the bench—especially if they continue to find themselves in the playoff hunt during the final month of the season.
LHP Tyler Skaggs’ Breaking Ball
Skaggs may have the best left-handed curveball in the minor leagues, a double-plus offering that keeps right-handed hitters off balance as much as it does lefties. He’ll occasionally rush his delivery and lose the pitch high to his arm side, but even when he’s not throwing it well, it still has enough shape and downward action to generate swing-and-misses.
RHP Jake Odorizzi’s Quick Arm
Kansas City Royals
With an athletic frame and quick arm, Odorizzi’s fastball scrapes 96 mph and sits at 92-to-94 with considerable arm-side sink. Additionally, he’s improved his ability to locate the pitch to both sides of the plate. His 12-to-6 breaking ball jumps out of his hand and is a sledge when in the zone with excellent pace and rotation. His fading changeup continues to improve as well, and he throws it with convincing arm speed.
OF Wil Myers’ Power
Kansas City Royals
Exploding from an upright, balanced stance, the right-handed hitter has quick wrists with outstanding bat control, as well as plate coverage that allows him to effortlessly drive the ball to all fields. He has considerably more power to the pull side but keeps his weight back long enough to still jump the yard to the opposite field. Plus, he gets bonus points for not using batting gloves, naturally.
OF Oswaldo Arcia’s Bat Speed
Already on the Twins’ 40-man roster, Arcia’s lightning-quick wrists and a lofty left-handed swing allow him to go yard to all fields. Although his swing can be a bit long at times, the barrel whip is excellent, as he stays behind the baseball and generates extension after contact.
2B/3B Jedd Gyorko’s Hit Tool
San Diego Padres
In his first full professional season, Gyorko led all minor leaguers with 192 hits in 149 games last year. He’s been just as impressive this season, posting a .978 OPS since an early-season promotion to Triple-A. The Padres have given him extensive looks at second base this season, where it seems he is most prepared to contribute in the bigs.
SS Jurickson Profar’s Surprising Power
With 14 home runs this year as the youngest player in Double-A, it’s safe to assume that Profar will hit for more power than anyone expected.
He’s always exhibited more power—.256 ISO in 289 plate appearances over the last two seasons—from his natural right side, thanks to a loftier swing with more extension after contact. Still, his power has noticeably improved from the left side this season, as we all witnessed in the XM Futures Games.
However, he has excellent gap power from both sides of the plate, and, as he physically develops, more balls should carry off the fence.
SS Jurickson Profar’s Electrifying Defense
Much like current Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, Profar is an aggressive, high-energy defender capable of making highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis.
The 19-year-old’s excellent instincts lend to his plus-range in all directions. He possesses soft, giving hands, as well as a quick transfer and release. Although Profar may see time at second base and center field if he’s called up prior to the 2014 season (when Andrus is a free agent), he has all the tools to stick at shortstop.
RHP Trevor Bauer’s Reverse Slider
A student of the game, Bauer has been rumored to have up to eight different pitches, though upon his big league arrival, both fans and opposing hitters will likely only see four or five of them.
His fastball consistently sits in the 92-to-97 mph range, as he occasionally takes a little off to generate either cutting or sinking movement—like I said, he treats pitching as an art form.
Bauer’s best pitch is easily his curveball, which receives double-plus grades for its almost unhittable pace and late, downward shape. Also in his arsenal is a plus-slider that looks similar to his fastball out of the hand, an above-average changeup with fading action, and a solid-average splitter that continues to improve.
For those who watched one of his Diamondbacks’ outings, it is already known that the right-hander also throws a "reverse slider" which, in my opinion, is just a changeup thrown with more velocity and less arm pronation.