Anthony Rendon and 4 NL East Prospects Who Can Impact Teams in Second Half
Anthony Rendon is back in the big leagues.
The Washington Nationals' top prospect, according to MLB.com, was called up on June 5 to help provide a spark for the struggling Nationals. Washington is currently 31-32 and in second place in the NL East standings.
Besides Rendon, what other NL East prospects could have a similar impact on their respective clubs in the second half of the MLB season?
Here is a list of five NL East prospects—including Rendon—who can impact the second half of this season. The list includes one prospect from each team, listed with their position, name of their parent club and their rank in MLB.com's 2013 Prospect Watch.
Note: All statistics updated through June 11 courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.
5. J.R. Graham RP, Atlanta Braves: 93
The Braves also have another excellent relief pitcher developing at Double-A Mississippi who could be the next Craig Kimbrel.
J.R. Graham is 1-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched over eight starts at Mississippi. Graham has 28 strikeouts to go with only 10 walks and a groundout-to-flyout ratio of 2.04. While teams are batting .283 against the 23-year-old right-hander, Graham has yet to surrender a home run.
Graham has been sidelined with a shoulder strain since May 16. The good news, as Braves general manager Frank Wren told Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was that “the prognosis was excellent that he’ll be back pitching in about a month.”
According to my calculations, Graham should be pitching again sometime next week.
4. Jesse Biddle SP, Philadelphia Phillies: 55
Jesse Biddle pitching for Philadelphia Phillies' Double-A affiliate the Reading Fighting Phils against Washington Nationals' Double-A affiliate the Harrisburg Senators.
The 2013 Philadelphia Phillies do not have the excellent starting rotation of years past.
The Phillies currently rank eighth in the NL in starter ERA at 3.99.
Thankfully for Philadelphia, the organization has a left-hander in Double-A Reading who could jump start their rotation.
Jesse Biddle is 21 years old, a native of Philadelphia, and ranked 55th on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects. Biddle is 3-6 for the Fightin' Phils, with a 3.03 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 33 walks in 68.1 innings. Biddle has also thrown two complete games and has a .176 opponents' batting average.
Biddle may be just what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel needs to start a second-half push towards the postseason.
3. Anthony Rendon IF, Washington Nationals: 26
If the return of top prospect Anthony Rendon is any indication, the second half of the Washington Nationals' season has already begun.
Rendon has seven hits in 20 at-bats since his second call-up began on June 5, providing just the spark the Nationals have been desperately seeking.
In Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins on June 9, he had two hits with one double and drove in three runs in a 7-0 win.
The Nats were in such need of this type of jolt that they have moved Rendon—normally a third baseman—to second base just to get him in the lineup. Washington should do whatever it takes to get the sweet-swinging Rendon his four at-bats a game.
2. Christian Yelich OF, Miami Marlins: 12
The California native is the top prospect in Miami's system, one that boasts four players in MLB.com's Top 100. Yelich also ranks fourth among MLB's top outfield prospects.
Yelich played only one game at Single-A Advanced Jupiter this season before being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville. In 41 games with the Suns, Yelich is hitting .262 in 164 at-bats. The left-handed Yelich has hit 12 doubles, six triples and six home runs for 85 total bases. He has scored 25 runs while driving in 28 and has a .342 on-base percentage with a .518 slugging percentage.
Yelich was injured on June 3, as tweeted by MiLB.com:
This injury stunts Yelich's growth, since "Yelich had been playing well with Jacksonville, and many were speculating that he's due for a call-up to the majors at some point this summer. Depending on the severity of his injury, though, that may not be in the cards for a while" (via KFFL.com).
Once Yelich is called up to Miami, the rest of the Marlins will soon reap the rewards.
1. Zack Wheeler SP, New York Mets: 7
Most MLB teams would kill to have the same quality of problems with their farm system as the Metropolitans.
Zack Wheeler is the second-best prospect in the Mets organization behind only d'Arnaud, his battery mate at Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler ranks as the third-best MLB prospect among right-handed pitchers.
Through 12 starts at Las Vegas, Wheeler is 4-1 with a 4.14 ERA in 63.0 innings pitched. The 23-year-old has struck out 66 and walked 25, and has surrendered eight home runs with opponents batting .248 against him.
The Mets will call up Wheeler on June 18 to give him a taste of the big show, according to a tweet by Adam Rubin of ESPN, and to give Mets fans a taste of the wicked one-two punch at the front of their rotation that could dominate for years to come: