5 Potential MLB Call-Ups Who Could Be Showcased for Winter Trades
Not all prospects who'll receive regular playing time in September will be auditioning for 2014 jobs with their current organizations. In some cases, their path to the majors is much smoother on another team, and a strong performance could boost their trade value in the upcoming offseason.
While a prospect like Mets infielder Wilmer Flores, who is playing regularly at third base because of David Wright's injury, is already in that position of possibly showcasing his talent for a team that has a regular spot for him, there are several other potential September call-ups who could get a chance to do the same.
Here are five close-to-MLB-ready prospects who could find themselves with a late-season chance to create interest around the league.
Brian Flynn, SP, Miami Marlins
You'd think the Marlins would have plenty of space for a lefty starter who is having plenty of success in Triple-A. And while it's not out of the question that there's a spot for Brian Flynn in Miami's 2014 rotation, the truth is that there are two other outstanding lefty pitching prospects—Double-A starters Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino—who could surpass him in the near future.
The 23-year-old Flynn, who was acquired last July in the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit, has a 2.80 ERA with 40 walks and 122 strikeouts in 23 starts for Triple-A New Orleans. He has a 1.49 ERA over his last 10 starts.
Combined with four Double-A starts early in the season, he's over 160 innings and might be nearing the point where the Marlins would want to shut him down. Even if he has just three more starts in him—he pitched 152 innings in 2012, so 180 innings could be a realistic cap in 2013—teams would get a much better idea of what the 6'7" Flynn is capable of if at least two of those starts are made in the majors.
Johnny Monell, C, San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey could very well move to a corner infield spot down the road, creating an opening at catcher for the Giants. That's unlikely to happen, though, in 2014 or probably even 2015. So while prospect Johnny Monell continues to put up solid numbers in the minors, the chances of him becoming the regular catcher in San Francisco anytime soon are slim-to-none.
A left-handed hitter whose defense was described as a work in progress during an impressive spring in which he went 10-for-21 with two doubles and a homer, the 27-year-old has carried his success over into his first Triple-A season (.281 BA, 20 HR, 62 RBI, 27 2B, 56 BB in 115 games).
His defensive struggles continue, however, as he's thrown out just 10 of 61 attempted base stealers and has played nearly as many games at first base as behind the plate. If the Giants bring Monell up in September where Manager Bruce Bochy, a former big league catcher, and his staff can work closely with him, maybe he can be good enough to draw interest from teams with little catching depth this offseason.
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
After general manager Kevin Towers spent last offseason acquiring shortstops—he traded for Cliff Pennington, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed—he now finds himself in a position of having an abundance of depth at the position with Chris Owings emerging as a candidate for the starting job in 2014.
While Towers and the D'backs might be happy with a spring competition between Owings and Gregorius, who has struggled at the plate since a hot start, it's also possible that he takes advantage of the lack of shortstop depth around the league by trading Owings in a deal for an impact big leaguer.
Inserting the 22-year-old Owings, who has a .329 batting average, 12 homers, 27 doubles, seven triples and 17 stolen bases in Triple-A, into the starting lineup with the team within reach of a playoff spot might not be ideal. Or maybe it would give the team a spark. Or maybe the team will fall out of contention shortly and Owings gets a shot with little pressure.
Regardless, a few weeks of big league success could make him a hot commodity this winter.
Marcus Semien, SS/2B, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox's farm system, which has been considered one of the worst in baseball the last couple of years, got a boost when the team acquired prospects Leury Garcia from the Rangers and Avisail Garcia from the Tigers in recent deals. The emergence of prospect Marcus Semien has also given the team some depth in the middle infield, which could lead to a trade this winter.
While the Sox might prefer to shop second baseman Gordon Beckham or shortstop Alexei Ramirez in order to go with a younger and much cheaper option like Semien, a 22-year-old who has played mostly shortstop and second base in the minors, they could find it difficult to get good value on their vets because of the salary commitments.
With the ability to include Semien, a potential leadoff man in the majors who is hitting .280 with 19 homers, 94 walks and 22 stolen bases between Triple-A and Double-A, as the centerpiece to a trade for an impact major leaguer, the Sox could better position themselves to bounce back quicker from a poor season.
Both Beckham and Ramirez have played well as of late, but it's possible to get Semien in a rotation where he can showcase his skills at either middle infield spot.
Tyler Skaggs, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have pitching depth to spare, which was the case last offseason when they dealt top prospect Trevor Bauer to the Indians. With Archie Bradley jumping to the head of the organization's prospect list, it's possible that lefty Tyler Skaggs heads into the offseason as the seventh starter on the team's depth chart.
While pitching depth can disappear in a hurry—Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy both had stints on the disabled list this season while Daniel Hudson had his return from Tommy John surgery cut short because of another elbow injury and subsequent surgery—Towers could choose to deal Skaggs while his value is still high.
Not unlike Bauer, the 22-year-old Skaggs' development is taking longer than expected. He's had some very good starts in the majors, along with some really bad ones. If the team can find the opportunity to let him finish the season in the big league rotation in the hope he can string together a few strong starts, his value could peak and he could likely headline a blockbuster trade this winter.