It’s eight weeks into the minor league season, and we‘re already starting to see some of Major League Baseball’s top prospects working their way to the show.
Monday’s recall of top prospect Jurickson Profar marks the first major league call-up of a top-10 prospect this season. With teams like the Miami Marlins proving to be the furthest thing from contenders, we may see a few more top prospects get the call in the coming weeks.
However, it’s been rather quiet on the prospect front this week. The Marlins’ Christian Yelich saw his average slip under .300, and even red-hot Francisco Lindor’s average took a hit.
It’s been an unusually rough week for the top pitching prospects as well.
All minor league stats are courtesy of MiLB.com.
1. Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers
2013 Stats (MLB): .222/.200/.222, 1 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB, 0 BB (3 G)
Ah, yes, the much anticipated major league arrival of Jurickson Profar is finally here. Nervousness and eagerness have perennially plagued some top prospects’ performance upon their arrival to the majors, and it’s beginning to look like Profar may be falling into that category.
Granted, it has only been three games, but so far Profar looks uncharacteristically uncomfortable at the dish. For Triple-A Round Rock this season, Profar was able to work deep into counts, fighting off pitches and working a decent number of walks.
Overall, his early struggles are simply rookie jitters. Profar will improve, and the Texas Rangers will have a big decision to make once Ian Kinsler returns from the disabled list. (Update: Profar went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI against Seattle on Saturday night.)
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats (Triple-A): .317/.351/.480, 17 R, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 5 SB, 6 BB (31 G)
After suffering an ankle injury two weeks ago, things are looking up for Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras. The 20-year-old outfielder has been running agility drills and will likely return to the lineup on Sunday, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com (h/t CBSSports.com).
Up until his injury, Taveras was living up to expectations, and a major league call-up seemed imminent. In his last 15 at-bats before his injury, Taveras was 7-for-15. If he can pick up right where he left off, he’ll find his way to the Cardinals outfield in the next few weeks.
3. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats: N/A
There is still no set date for the return of Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy. Yesterday, the 20-year-old right-hander began testing his full range of pitching motions in his right arm with positive results. That’s good news for the Orioles, whose rotation's 4.79 ERA currently ranks 25th in baseball.
Bundy received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right arm last month after being diagnosed with right flexor mass tightness in his elbow.
4. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats (Triple-A): .242/.333./.388, 25 R, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 3 SB, 23 BB (43 G)
Last week’s struggles have carried over into Week 8 for Rays top prospect Wil Myers. In his last 40 at-bats, Myers has just seven hits with one homer. His 53 strikeouts on the season is another ugly mark that needs improvement. Still, Myers remains part of a select group of prospects that teeter on the edge between the majors and minors.
With Desmond Jennings struggling at the plate and Ben Zobrist's positional flexibility, the Rays are keeping the outfield warm for a potential Myers call-up. Nevertheless, if the 22-year-old outfielder continues to lack offensive production, general manager Andrew Friedman won’t hesitate to give Myers more time to develop in Triple-A Durham.
5. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats (Triple-A): 48.0 IP, 3.75 ERA, .214 AVG, 35 K, 23 BB (9 GS)
Pittsburgh Pirates top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole has displayed a serious lack of control in 2013. Cole is walking 2.5 batters a game, while his strikeout totals haven’t been anything impressive. In his last start on Sunday, Cole allowed eight earned runs in 5.2 innings.
Cole isn’t in jeopardy of drastically losing his stock this early in the season, but he isn’t where he should be at this point in his minor league career. He has the stuff to be a successful major league middle-of-the-rotation guy if he can fix his command.
With the Pirates staff pitching well, don’t expect a call-up any time soon.
6. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats (Double-A): 52.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, .197 AVG, 57 K, 25 BB (9 GS)
After an excellent start to the minor league season for Taijuan Walker, the Mariners' top pitching prospect has tailed off a bit over his last few starts. Last Sunday, Walker allowed seven runs (five earned) in 4.2 innings. Like Cole, though one or two bad starts every so often won’t hurt a young pitching prospect.
Walker’s strikeout totals have been excellent, and he’s been showing he has the stuff to compete at a high level. Even with the success, don’t expect Walker in the big leagues until later in the season, if at all.
However, Walker should be promoted from Double-A to Triple-A in the coming months.
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats (Double-A): .276/.353/.423, 28 R, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 4 SB, 19 BB (39 G)
Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts continues to post consistent numbers in Double-A Portland. This week, Bogaerts is hitting just .222, but has proved clutch, knocking in five RBI.
Bogaerts is still a year away from the majors, but he’s shown vast improvement from last year in Single-A at the dish. Even with the low average this week, he’s making solid contact and keeping the strikeouts to a minimum—an area where he’s struggled in his young career.
It’s only a matter of time until this guy catches fire and gets promoted to Triple-A. For the remainder of this season, the Red Sox will continue to rely on Jose Iglesias and Stephen Drew for production from the left side of the infield.
8. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats (Triple-A): 48.1 IP, 3.91 ERA, .246 AVG, 49 K, 20 BB (9 GS)
Zack Wheeler has been flaunting his stuff so far this season and lies on the verge of his first major league call-up in the next two weeks. The Mets’ top pitching prospect is expected to make his debut after two or three more minor league starts, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (via CBSSports.com).
The Mets, who currently sit at a 17-27 record, have little to lose and everything to gain from promoting Wheeler to the bigs. In his start on Wednesday, Wheeler picked up the win and allowed three earned runs over five innings.
Outside of Jon Niese and dominant youngster Matt Harvey, the rest of the Mets rotation combines for a horrendous 2-15 record. Wheeler has a chance to add some stability to a desperate rotation upon his call-up.
9. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
2013 Stats (Single-A): .324/.393/.453, 26 R, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 11 SB, 19 BB (44 G)
Cleveland top prospect Francisco Lindor is shaping into one of the premier young talents in the minors. He continues to outhit virtually every one of the top-10 prospects.
Lindor, just 19, is at the very least a year away from the majors. His hot start to the season could have him jumping to Double-A in the coming months. Over his last 10 games, the average is down but remains respectable at .282.
10. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (Double-A): .296/.359/.589, 24 R, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 4 SB, 14 BB (30 G)
Like most hitters on this list, Christian Yelich is having a down week at the plate. The Marlins prospect is just 4-for-22 at the dish after starting the month off red-hot. Still, due to the Marlins' struggles, Yelich could be on his way up to the majors sooner rather than later.
Whether owner Jeffrey Loria wants to admit it or not, this is undoubtedly a rebuilding year for Miami. Like the Astros in Houston, the situation gives prospects like Yelich the perfect opportunity to exhibit their talent at a major league level with little cost to the organization. If he continues hitting, expect Yelich in the majors before the All-Star break.
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