Grading the Performance of Top 10 MLB Prospects Called Up This September

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterOctober 15, 2012

Grading the Performance of Top 10 MLB Prospects Called Up This September

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    With the postseason gradually winding down and only a handful of prospects still playing, it’s time to reflect upon and grade some of the top rookie performances from the final month of the season.

    While there were countless big league promotions on Sept. 1—when the active major league roster expanded from 25 to 40 players—only a select group of those players were considered legitimate prospects.

    And given those players’ impressive conclusion to the season, respectively, don’t be surprised if a majority of them are featured on their team’s Opening Day roster.

10. Russ Canzler, 1B/LF/DH, Cleveland Indians

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    Nobody’s ever questioned Russ Canzler’s ability to hit. Over nine minor leagues with three different organizations, the 26-year-old owns an .819 OPS with 106 home runs.

    He received a cup of coffee last season with the Rays, collecting his first big league hit in five plate appearances. However, his lack of a true defensive position has always stood between him and regular playing time.

    Making his Indians debut on Sept. 1, the right-handed hitter batted .269/.299/.398 with six extra-base hits (three home runs), 11 RBI and 22/4 K/BB in 26 games, and almost equally played time in left field and at first base.

    Grade: B-

9. Christian Garcia, RHP, Washington Nationals

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    Having lost multiple seasons due to arm injuries, it took Garcia eight years to reach the major leagues. The 27-year-old right-hander was recalled on Sept. 1 after saving 21 games and registering a 0.86 ERA, 11.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 between Double- and Triple-A.

    Making his big league debut on Sept. 4, Garcia played a vital role in the Nationals’ bullpen over the final month of the season, posting a 2.13 ERA, 10.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 13 appearances spanning 12.2 innings.

    Included on the team’s postseason roster, he was a bit shaky in two NLDS appearances allowing an earned run on two hits and four walks while registering four strikeouts.

    Grade: B

8. Darin Ruf, 1B/LF, Philadelphia Phillies

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    The 2012 minor league home run leader with 38 for Double-A Erie, Ruf was a second-wave September call-up promoted in mid-Sept. The 26-year-old slugger surprised most people with his success in the majors, as he batted .333/.351/.727 with six extra-base hits and 10 RBI in 12 games.

    The right-handed hitter’s shining moment came on Oct. 2 on the road against the Nationals when he turned in his first multi-homer game as a big leaguer.

    Grade: B

7. Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    The Brewers’ top pitching prospect headed into the season, Peralta struggled in his first full season at Triple-A. Pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, the 6’2”, 240-pound right-hander finished the season with a 7-11 record, 4.66 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 over 28 starts (146.2 IP).

    However, he pitched well in August and was ultimately recalled in early September.

    The 23-year-old made five starts for the Brewers over the final month, registering two wins, a 2.48 ERA and 23/11 K/BB in 29 innings. His best outing came on Sept. 16 at home against the Mets when he fired eight shutout innings, allowing only two hits while tallying five strikeouts.

    Grade: B

6. Nick Maronde, LHP, Los Angeles Angels

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    A third-round draft pick in 2011 out of the University of Florida, Maronde’s first full professional season began at High-A and ended in the major leagues. A starter in the minor leagues, the left-hander registered a 2.26 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in nearly 100 innings.

    However, given his extreme success against left-handed hitters, the Angels saw enough value in that split to call him up on Sept. 1. Mardone made an immediate impact out of the team’s bullpen, posting a 1.50 ERA and 7/3 K/BB over 12 appearances.

    Grade: B

5. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers

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    The top prospect in baseball, Profar, 19, enjoyed a tremendous season at Double-A, performing well above his age against advanced competition. The switch-hitting shortstop batted .281/.368/.452 with 47 extra-base hits, 16 stolen bases and 79/66 K/BB in 126 games.

    Given the Rangers’ loaded infield, it was surprising that the organization opted to promoted the teenager to the major leagues in September.

    Although his playing time was limited, understandably, Profar was still highly impressive in his opportunities—remember: The kid homered in his first professional at-bat.

    Overall, the immensely talented prospect posted a .647 OPS with three extra-base hits in nine games. He also collected a hit in the postseason when he singled late in the American League wild-card play-in game.

    Grade: B

4. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

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    Pitching in just his first full professional season, Cingrani, 23, breezed through the minors this past season, making a stop at Double-A after opening the year in High-A.

    Overall, the left-hander’s numbers were astonishing: 10-4, 1.73 ERA, .191 BAA, 172/52 K/BB in 146 innings.

    Even though he was dominating in the minor leagues, the southpaw still was an unexpected call-up in early September. Used in a middle relief role, Cingrani pitched in three games for the Reds, posting a 1.80 ERA with 9/2 K/BB in five innings. Of his 11 ball-in-play outs, seven were ground balls.

    Grade: B+

3. Avisail Garcia, OF, Detroit Tigers

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    Garcia isn’t technically a Sept. call-up considering that he was promoted to the major leagues and made his debut on Aug. 31. However, that’s close enough for me!

    Only 21 years old, the athletic, 6’4” outfielder has been lauded for his defense in right field and plus arm. At the plate, the right-handed hitter’s hit tool continues to improve, though his power still hasn’t truly blossomed.

    Splitting the season between High-A and Double-A, Garcia batted .299/.333/.455 with 39 extra-base hits (14 home runs), 23 stolen bases and 95/18 K/BB.

    Since the big league promotion, he’s played a major role in the Tigers’ playoff surge as well as their postseason success. Appearing in 23 games over the final month of the regular season, Garcia batted .319/.373/.319 with seven runs scored and three RBI.

    And in the postseason, he’s appeared in seven games with three hits, three RBI and a clutch outfield assist in Game 2 of the ALDS.

    Grade: B+

2. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    It seemed doubtful that Miller would be a Sept. call-up after a miserable first half of the season. However, the 21-year-old right-hander righted the ship following the All-Star break, going 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA, .217 BAA and 70/7 K/BB.

    His performance ultimately earned him a big league promotion, as he debut on Sept. 5 and appeared in six games for the Cardinals down the stretch of the season.

    Miller closed the regular season on an impressive note when he fired six one-hit innings in a no-decision against the Reds on the final day of the season. Overall, the right-hander finished his first crack at the big leagues with a 1.32 ERA and 16/4 K/BB in 13.2 innings.

    Grade: A-

1. Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    An undersized, left-handed hitting outfielder, Eaton had a tremendous minor league season batting .375/.456/.523 with 130 runs scored, 198 hits, 59 extra-base hits, 44 stolen bases and 76/59 K/BB in 130 games, 119 of which where at Triple-A. The 23-year-old was subsequently named the rookie of the year and MVP of the Pacific Coast League.

    Debuting on Sept. 4, Eaton made a strong case to be the team’s everyday center fielder in 2013 by batting .259/.382/.412 with 19 runs scored, seven extra-base hits and 15/14 K/BB in 22 games.

    Equally important is the fact that his defense in center field saved two runs.

    Grade: A-