Comparing Each MLB Team's Top 2012 Call-Up to a League Star
I still can't quite grasp that we've seen almost every preseason top-10 prospect reach the major leagues this season. Players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have already proven to be generational talents, while Manny Machado, Trevor Bauer, Jurickson Profar and Shelby Miller are seemingly on their way.
Although there may be a few more notable prospects recalled in the coming weeks, such as Trevor Bauer and Wil Myers (maybe), the main prospect influx appears to be over. So, it's time to look at each team's top call-up from the 2012 season, complete with big league comparisons.
As those who've read my work before may know, I'm not a fan of comparing inexperienced prospects to major leaguers. However, there's no denying the fact that they're entertaining. Therefore, I examined each player's statistics, age, experience, tools and overall ceiling in order to provide accurate comparisons.
Even though some of the players on this list appeared in the major leagues in 2011, they all began the 2012 season in the minor leagues with their rookie status intact.
Atlanta Braves: SS Andrelton Simmons
2012 MLB Stats: .302/.350/.444, 11 XBH, 17 RBI, 16 K/10 BB (37 G)
Simmons has always been regarded as an excellent defense shortstop. However, having never played a game above High-A headed into the 2012 season, his bat was still suspect. Therefore, his production at Double-A and in the majors has been a pleasant surprise despite missing two months with a broken hand.
MLB Comparison: Alexei Ramirez; Elvis Andrus
Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Phillippe Aumont
2012 MLB Stats: 0-1, 1 SV, 9 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, BB/9 (10 G)
A first-round draft pick in 2007, the 6’7” right-hander was a starter until the 2011 season when his career finally took off following a move to the bullpen. With a plus fastball and breaking ball, Aumont has a closer’s arsenal; however, his command remains a work in progress.
MLB Comparison: Jonathan Broxton; Carlos Marmol
New York Mets: RHP Matt Harvey
2012 MLB Stats: 3-5, 52.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 (9 GS)
Since making his big league debut on July 26, the early return on Harvey has been excellent. The hard-throwing right-hander has been dominant, for the most part, with a fastball that flirts with triple digits and three average or better off-speed pitches. In my opinion, he should be the Mets' No. 2 starter next season.
MLB Comparison: Max Scherzer; Josh Johnson
Washington Nationals: OF Bryce Harper
2012 MLB Stats: .263/.335/.458, 83 R, 47 XBH (19 HR), 13 SB, 106 K/51 BB (122 G)
As a 19-year-old, Bryce Harper has enjoyed a phenomenal rookie campaign—by any standard. After posting an .826 OPS over the first half of the season, he fell on hard times in both June (.780 OPS) and July (.619 OPS). However, he’s come out of it on a tear, with 10 doubles, 10 home runs, 21 RBI and 15 walks over his last 175 plate appearances.
MLB Comparison: Ken Griffey Jr.; Eric Davis
Miami Marlins: RHP Jacob Turner
2012 MLB Stats: 2-3, 36.1 IP, 5.20 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 (7 GS)
Arguably rushed to the major leagues last season as a 20-year-old, Turner headlined the package of prospects dealt to the Tigers prior to the July 31 trade deadline in exchange for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. He’s emerged as more of a groundball pitcher than strikeout artist—which certainly isn’t a knock—and, at times, he appears polished. However, he’s still only 21 and still has plenty of room to develop.
Since being called up by the Marlins, Turner is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 6.4 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 24 innings.
MLB Comparison: Rick Porcello; Jeremy Guthrie
Chicago Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo
2012 MLB Stats: .294/.348/.463, 22 XBH (12 HR), 37 RBI, 47 K/20 BB (71 G)
After a disappointing debut last season with the Padres, Rizzo was traded this offseason for right-hander Andrew Cashner. The left-handed hitter made a significant adjustment to his swing by lowering his hands, which led to fewer strikeouts, improved plate coverage and discipline and increased power to all fields. He’s still a raw player, but Rizzo has the potential to hit in the middle of the Cubs' order for a long, long time.
MLB Comparison: Tino Martinez; Carlos Lee
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Shelby Miller
2012 MLB Stats: 5 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.4 WHIP, 12.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (2 G)
Ranked as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects headed into the 2012 season, Miller turned in an ugly first half of the season: 6.17 ERA, 17 home runs allowed, .291 BAA, 90 K and 43 walks in 77.1 innings at Triple-A Memphis.
However, he was a completely different pitcher after the All-Star break and seemingly returned to his 2011 form. In 10 starts, the right-hander was 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA, .217 BAA, 70 strikeouts and seven walks in 59.1 innings.
MLB Comparison: Matt Cain; Ben Sheets
Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Starling Marte
2012 MLB Stats: .243/.288/.417, 9 XBH (4 HR), 12 RBI, 5 SB, 32 K/5 BB (30 G)
One of the more toolsy position prospects in the game, Marte’s baseball skills still lag behind his overall athleticism. He’s made significant improvements at the plate over the last two seasons, but he’s still too much of a free swinger who unnecessarily expands his strike zone.
MLB Comparison: Drew Stubbs
Houston Astros: 3B Matt Dominguez
2012 MLB Stats: .295/.328/.541, 6 XBH (4 HR), 10 RBI, 10 K/3 BB (19 G)
At the time he was drafted, Dominguez was considered an excellent defensive third baseman who may hit enough to succeed in the major leagues. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old’s scouting report hasn’t changed since that initial assessment in 2007.
He was traded by the Marlins in early July to the Astros in exchange for Carlos Lee, and a subsequent trade of Chris Johnson to the Diamondbacks cleared his path to playing time. Now in his third stint in the major leagues over two years, his bat has shown signs of life—finally.
MLB Comparison: Brandon Inge; Jeff Cirillo
Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Tyler Thornburg
2012 MLB Stats: 15 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (6 G; 2 GS)
An undersized right-hander at 6’0" and 190 pounds, Thornburg reached the major leagues in June after beginning the 2012 season in Double-A. He employs a deceptive, over-the-top delivery with a quick arm and three above-average pitches. He’s overcome the control problems that once had him pegged as a reliever and is a viable candidate for a spot in the Brewers rotation in 2013.
MLB Comparison: Tim Lincecum
Cincinnati Reds: 3B/1B Todd Frazier
2012 MLB Stats: .283/.345/.517, 48 XBH (18 HR), 62 RBI, 94 K/35 BB (117 G)
After a career of raking in the minor leagues, Frazier finally received substantial playing time this season at both third and first base thanks to injuries to Scott Rolen and Joey Votto, respectively. It’s not an understatement to say that he’s carried the team in their absence, and he’s arguably the front runner for the National League Rookie of the Year award.
MLB Comparison: Allen Craig
Los Angeles Dodgers: IF/OF Alex Castellanos
2012 MLB Stats: .136/.167/.227, 2 RBI, 8 K (14 G)
While I normally wouldn’t give much consideration to a 26-year-old prospect, Castellanos is an exception. Despite being a free swinger, he’s been able to hit for both average and moderate power, and he has enough speed to be considered a threat on the basepaths. A versatile defender, Castellanos is capable of playing the outfield, second and third base.
MLB Comparison: Ben Zobrist; Jerry Hairston, Jr.
San Francisco Giants: OF Francisco Peguero
2012 MLB Stats: 0-for-7, 1 R, 3 K (7 G)
A 24-year-old outfielder, it’s a bit concerning to think that Peguero is the Giants’ most big-league-ready position prospect. He swings at almost everything and rarely draws walks and doesn’t offer enough power to be a corner outfielder. Until he refines his approach at the plate and shortens his swing, it’s hard to see Peguero being successful in the major leagues.
MLB Comparison: Juan Rivera
Colorado Rockies: SS/2B Josh Rutledge
2012 MLB Stats: .292/.311/.510, 26 XBH (7 HR), 28 RBI, 36 K/4 BB (55 G)
Promoted from Double-A Tulsa in the wake of Troy Tulowitzki’s groin injury, Rutledge came out of the gates on fire, posting a 1.076 OPS in July (16 games) and .931 OPS in August (25 games). However, his initial luck has worn off, seemingly, as the 23-year-old owns a .379 OPS through 14 games in September. Once Tulowitzki is finally healthy, expect Rutledge to get most of the looks at second base.
MLB Comparison: Todd Walker; Ian Desmond
Arizona Diamondbacks: LHP Pat Corbin
2012 MLB Stats: 5-7, 1 SV, 86 IP, 4.19 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (18 G; 13 GS)
After nearly making the team and opening plenty of eyes in spring training, Corbin was promoted to the major leagues for the first time in late April. Since then, he’s bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the majors, but has still been more effective than fellow prospects Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer.
MLB Comparison: Steve Avery
San Diego Padres: C Yasmani Grandal
2012 MLB Stats: .277/.386/.473, 14 XBH (7 HR), 28 RBI, 31 K/26 BB (46 G)
A switch-hitting catcher with advanced plate discipline, Grandal was traded for to the Padres for Mat Latos this past offseason as part of a loaded prospect package. Nick Hundley’s ongoing struggles eventually opened the door for Grandal, who homered form both sides of the plate in the same game to register his first two hits. He’s still raw defensively with room to develop, but his offense upside outweighs such concerns.
MLB Comparison: Carlos Santana
New York Yankees: RHP David Phelps
2012 MLB Stats: 4-4, 84.1 IP, 3.42 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 (28 G; 9 GS)
Although none of his pitches are above average, Phelps mixes his pitches well and rarely misses over the heart of the plate. He’s worked as a swingman for the Yankees this season, helping to plug holes in the starting rotation when needed. His stuff isn’t effective enough to work out of the bullpen as a late-inning arm, at least exclusively, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees handle him moving forward.
MLB Comparison: Ian Kennedy
Boston Red Sox: 3B Will Middlebrooks
2012 MLB Stats: .288/.325/.509, 29 XBH (15 HR), 54 RBI, 70 K/13 BB (75 G)
After demolishing Triple-A pitching to start the season, Middlebrooks received a promotion ahead of schedule in early May when Kevin Youkilis landed on the disabled list. The 6’4” third baseman ultimately hit so well that the Red Sox traded Youk, and Middlebooks will likely open the season as the team's third baseman.
Unfortunately, his season was cut short after he was hit by a pitch on August 10 and suffered a broken wrist.
MLB Comparison: Troy Glaus; Dean Palmer; Scott Rolen
Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Chris Archer
2012 MLB Stats: 0-3, 22.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 (4 G; 3 GS)
After battling serious control problems throughout his minor league career, the hard-throwing right-hander reduced his walk rate to 4.4 per nine innings this season at Triple-A, which then carried over into the major leagues.
Archer has been impressive in two different stints with the Rays and seems to be a viable option for the starting rotation—if a spot ever opens up.
MLB Comparison: Edwin Jackson; Anibal Sanchez
Baltimore Orioles: 3B/SS Manny Machado
2012 MLB Stats: .270/.285/.452, 12 XBH (4 HR), 15 RBI, 2 SB, 25 K/3 BB (34 G)
Shortly after turning 20 years old, Machado was promoted from Double-A Bowie to the major leagues on August 9. Regarded as a unanimous top-five prospect in all of baseball, he collected five extra-base hits and seven RBI over his four games. Additionally, Machado was played exceptional defense at third base after manning shortstop in the minor leagues.
MLB Comparison: Troy Tulowitzki
Toronto Blue Jays: OF Anthony Gose
2012 MLB Stats: .227/.298/.327, 7 XBH, 15 SB (2 CS), 43 K/9 BB (38 G)
Like Starling Marte, Gose is a highly athletic outfielder with more raw ability than legitimate skills. An excellent defensive outfielder with a plus arm, he’s best suited for a career in center field, especially given his explosive, plus-plus speed. A left-handed hitter, Gose has impressive raw power but struggles to make consistent contact, as evidenced by his 25 K/3 BB rate this season in the major leagues.
MLB Comparison: Will Venable; Corey Patterson; Brett Gardner
Detroit Tigers: OF Avisail Garcia
2012 MLB Stats: .294/.368/.294, RBI, 4 K/1 BB (11 G)
A 6’4”, 21-year-old outfielder, Garcia has steadily improved at the plate since entering the Tigers’ system in 2008. Reaching Double-A for the first time this season, the right-handed hitter posted a career-best .810 OPS in 55 games before receiving "the call." He’s still learning how to tap into his plus raw power, and when he finally does—look out.
MLB Comparison: Jermaine Dye
Cleveland Indians: RHP Cody Allen
2012 MLB Stats: 0-1, 24.1 IP, 2.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 (20 G)
Drafted in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft, Allen breezed through the minor leagues, pitching at three levels this season before a big league promotion. In 54 career minor league games, the right-hander has struck out 128 batters compared to only 23 walks and could serve as the Tribe’s closer in 2013 if they decide to move Chris Perez this offseason.
MLB Comparison: David Hernandez
Chicago White Sox: LHP Jose Quintana
2012 MLB Stats: 6-4, 122.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9.
Promoted to the major leagues in early May, Quintana has been one of many unsung heroes for the White Sox this season, especially in the wake of John Danks’ season-ending shoulder injury. The left-hander relies on the command of his pitches, which, for the most part, has been sharp, as he’s only issued 32 walks in 122.2 innings.
MLB Comparison: Ted Lilly; Dallas Braden
Kansas City Royals: RHP Jake Odorizzi
2012 MLB Stats: N/A; Recalled prior to Sunday’s game.
The Royals’ undisputed top pitching prospect, Odorizzi headlined the trade that netted Zack Greinke from the Brewers prior to the 2011 season. The 22-year-old right-hander is definitely ready for a more advanced challenge after he registered a 3.03 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 26 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season.
MLB Comparison: Zack Greinke
Minnesota Twins: SS/2B Brian Dozier
2012 MLB Stats: .234/.271/.332, 18 XBH (6 HR), 33 RBI, 9 SB, 58 K/16 BB (84 G)
Despite posting a .690 OPS this season at Triple-A, Dozier was called up on May 7 to assume duties as the Twins’ everyday shortstop. After a hot start at the plate in the major leagues, the 25-year-old gradually normalized. And after three inconsistent months in the majors, he was demoted back to Triple-A.
MLB Comparison: Clint Barmes; Orlando Cabrera; Adam Kennedy
Los Angeles Angels: OF Mike Trout
2012 MLB Stats: .331/.397/.565, 116 R, 166 H, 57 XBH (27 HR), 77 RBI, 45 SB (4 CS), 119 K/54 BB (123 G)
What’s there to say about Mike Trout that hasn’t already been said? No matter what superlative is applied to the 21-year-old outfielder, it always seems to be appropriate. A strong favorite to capture both the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards, Trout is the first player to produce a double-digit WAR (10.3) since Barry Bonds in 2004.
MLB Comparison: Ricky Henderson; Jesus
Texas Rangers: SS/2B Jurickson Profar
2012 MLB Stats: .231/.231/.615, 3 XBH, 2 RBI, 3 K (6 G)
The top prospect in baseball following the graduation of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Matt Moore and Manny Machado, Profar has the makings of future superstar much like the aforementioned players. A 19-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop, Profar excels in all facets of the game and plays with a confidence well beyond his years.
He’s seen minimal playing time since the Rangers called him up, but the fact that the organization felt compelled to do so speaks volumes about his upside and future role.
MLB Comparison: Barry Larkin; Elvis Andrus; Jimmy Rollins
Oakland Athletics: RHP Jarrod Parker
2012 MLB Stats: 11-8, 167 IP, 3.40 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 (27 GS)
Traded by the Diamondbacks this past offseason in exchange for Trevor Cahill, Parker has emerged as the most consistent pitcher in the A’s starting rotation—especially in the absence of both Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but he plays to his strengths by changing speeds, pounding corners and consistently locating down in the zone.
MLB Comparison: Chris Carpenter; Brandon McCarthy
Seattle Mariners: RHP Carter Capps
2012 MLB Stats: 15.1 IP, 4.11 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 4.7 BB/9 (11 G)
Selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, Capps has enjoyed a brief but dominant minor league career. The 6’5” right-hander registered a 12.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 rate in 69.1 over the last two seasons, mostly due to his explosive, plus-plus heater and unusual arm action.
However, that’s about all he is right now—a big man with a big fastball. Therefore, the development of his breaking ball will be crucial towards his success next season.
MLB Comparison: Daniel Bard; Billy Koch; Bobby Parnell