Jonathan Gray will be pitching for the Rockies very, very soon.
While some clubs can afford to wait for their 2013 MLB draft picks to develop, there are others that need their selections' services as soon as possible. Some top prospects will be in the big leagues before you know it.
Which of these top prospects will make their MLB debut first?
There are certainly a couple of prospects that have enough experience and talent to rise through their respective organization’s ladder quite quickly. But teams will be sure not to rush anyone because coming up too quickly can plague a player’s future, as he may or may not be completely ready yet.
It’s important to keep in mind what immediately means in terms of prospects. If you ask MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds, he might tell you that a player will be in the majors in the next couple of weeks. That’s incorrect. At the earliest, immediately means toward the middle of the 2014 season, give or take a few months.
There are prospects that appear to be close to making their debut, but still need a bit of time to develop in the minors and get acclimated to life as a professional baseball players. Ahead are three top prospects that are well on their way to getting another big call in the near future.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford—No. 1, Houston Astros
As Reynolds said on the MLB draft broadcast, he believes that Mark Appel will be making his major league debut with the Houston Astros sometime in July. Not next July, though. July meaning in like two-and-a-half weeks. Sorry Harold, but that’s not going to happen.
I would like to wager whatever Harold Reynolds would like that Mark Appel will not be in the majors in July. Seriously, anything he wants.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) June 6, 2013
Appel will, however, be in the big leagues before the majority of the players selected after him. He was the top pitcher in this year’s draft class and had just as much experience heading into the draft as any other prospect. The extra year of college—deciding against signing a pro contract a year ago—helped him progress.
In Appel’s four years at Stanford, he’s gone 28-14 with a 2.91 ERA in 71 games (50 starts) and 377.2 innings of work. Not many other pitchers in this year’s class have logged that many innings, if any. Playing for one of the top programs in the country, Appel has faced plenty of great hitters and should do just fine in the minors to start.
If you ask B/R MLB lead 2riter Zach Rymer, he’d guess that Appel gets promoted to the Astros in late 2014. I think that’s a fair timeline. He’ll likely pitch the rest of 2013 in Single-A or Double-A, move up a level next year and get promoted somewhere in August or September. He only needs about a year until he’s big league ready.
Dominic Smith, 1B, Junipero Serra (Calif.) HS—No. 11, New York Mets
Dominic Smith may just be graduating high school in the next couple of weeks, but don’t be surprised if you see him in Queens within the next year or so. The New York Mets desperately needed someone to play first base in the future and taking Smith with the No. 11 pick in the draft was a no-brainer.
New York has no one to play first base right now. Ike Davis has been absolutely horrible this season and is hitting just .164/.245/.262 through 54 games. The Mets only have two or three somewhat notable first basemen in their system. Smith now becomes the easy long-term solution.
Smith was one of the top high school bats in this year’s draft class, and if he continues to hit like he did as a prep player in the minors, the Mets may move him up quickly. Smith will likely go to the rookie ball or Single-A to finish out this year and depending how he does, could be in Double-A by July 2014.
The Mets know that Smith’s bat is likely ready to face major-leading pitchers, but New York can’t afford to risk anything with him. He’s their lone option. But if he continues to hit like I said and his glove improves a bit, the Mets will have no other choice to bring him up and see what he can do.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma—No. 3, Colorado Rockies
I doubt there was much of a conversation in the Colorado Rockies’ war room once the Chicago Cubs took Kris Bryant with the second overall pick in the draft. Colorado needed a star pitching prospect and there was no question that Jonathan Gray would be the Rockies’ guy.
Gray has gotten better and better with experience, pitching for the Oklahoma Sooners the last two seasons. He could’ve been the No. 1 overall pick, but Houston opted to go with Appel instead. Nonetheless, Gray is just as good of an arm and will be in Colorado starting rotation very soon.
What makes Gray such a good prospect who can move his way up the ladder quickly is his repertoire. He throws his fastball in the triple digits, he has a great slider and his changeup has been very good as well. He has three plus pitches that he uses to blow away opposing hitters.
We’ll have to wait and see how minor league batters fare against Gray in the coming months, but the Rockies should have a good feeling about what his future holds. With around a year of minor league experience, Gray should be ready to pitch at Coors Field. He’s about as close as anyone to playing in the majors.
Complete First Round Results
|1||Houston Astros||Mark Appel||RHP||Stanford|
|2||Chicago Cubs||Kris Bryant||3B||San Diego|
|3||Colorado Rockies||Jonathan Gray||RHP||Oklahoma|
|4||Minnesota Twins||Kohl Stewart||RHP||St. Puis X HS (Houston)
|5||Cleveland Indians||Clint Frazier||OF||Loganville (Ga.) HS|
|6||Miami Marlins||Colin Moran||3B||North Carolina|
|7||Boston Red Sox||Trey Ball||LHP||New Castle (Ind.) HS|
|8||Kansas City Royals||Hunter Dozier||SS||Stephen F. Austin|
|9||Pittsburgh Pirates||Austin Meadows||OF||Grayson (Ga.) HS|
|10||Toronto Blue Jays||Phil Bickford||RHP||Oaks Christian (Calif.) HS|
|11||New York Mets||Dominic Smith||1B||JSerra Catholic (Calif.) HS|
|12||Seattle Mariners||DJ Peterson||3B||New Mexico|
|13||San Diego Padres||Hunter Renfroe||OF||Mississippi State|
|14||Pittsburgh Pirates||Reese McGuire||C||Kentwood (Wash.) HS|
|15||Arizona Diamondbacks||Braden Shipley||RHP||Nevada|
|16||Philadelphia Phillies||J.P. Crawford||SS||Lakewood (Calif.) HS|
|17||Chicago White Sox||Tim Anderson||SS||East Central CC|
|18||Los Angeles Dodgers||Chris Anderson||RHP||Jacksonville|
|19||St. Louis Cardinals||Marco Gonzales||LHP||Gonzaga|
|20||Detroit Tigers||Jonathon Crawford||RHP||Florida|
|21||Tampa Bay Rays||Nick Ciuffo||C||Lexington (S.C.) HS|
|22||Baltimore Orioles||Hunter Harvey||RHP||Bandys (N.C.) HS|
|23||Texas Rangers||Alex Gonzalez||RHP||Oral Roberts|
|24||Oakland Athletics||Billy McKinney||CF||Plano West Sr. HS (Texas)|
|25||San Francisco Giants||Christian Arroyo||SS||Hernando (Fla.) HS|
|26||New York Yankees||Eric Jagielo||3B||Notre Dame|
|27||Cincinnati Reds||Phillip Ervin||CF||Samford|
|28||St. Louis Cardinals||Rob Kaminsky||LHP||St. Joseph Regional School (N.J.)|
|29||Tampa Bay Rays||Ryne Stanek||RHP||Arkansas|
|30||Texas Rangers||Travis Demeritte||SS||Winder Barrow (Ga.) HS|
|31||Atlanta Braves||Jason Hursh||RHP||Oklahoma State|
|32||New York Yankees||Aaron Judge||OF||Fresno State|
|33||New York Yankees||Ian Clarkin||LHP||James Madison (Calif.) HS|
*For selections from all 40 rounds, check out MLB.com.