Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 7
The 2014 season already has seen a collection of notable prospects receive promotions to the major leagues, and undoubtedly, there will be many, many more to come.
Highly regarded prospects George Springer, C.J. Cron and Rougned Odor are each starting for their respective clubs following early season call-ups, and it shouldn't be long until they're joined by impact talents such as Oscar Taveras, Jonathan Singleton and Gregory Polanco.
On the pitching front, a pair of promising young arms debuted for the Mets this week in right-handers Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, and both pitchers have the potential to emerge as fixtures in the rotation moving forward.
So, who will be the next high-profile prospect to reach the major leagues?
In order to predict estimated time of arrivals in the majors this season, we've classified prospects using the following scale:
Red: September call-up at best
Orange: Second-half call-up
Yellow: Call-up within a month
Green: Call-up within a week/call-up is imminent
Here's a look at the prospect call-up report for Week 7 of the 2014 season.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox
Tommy La Stella, 2B, Atlanta Braves
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats (Triple-A Indianapolis): 39 G, .370/.436/.604, 21 XBH (5 HR), 35 RBI, 9 SB, 17 BB, 30 K
Polanco has played like a man among boys this season for Triple-A Indianapolis, as the 22-year-old currently leads the International League in most offensive categories, including batting average (.370), on-base percentage (.436), slugging (.604), total bases (93), triples (five), runs scored (28) and RBI (35).
It’s seemingly only a matter of time until the Pittsburgh Pirates call up Polanco, especially in the aftermath of last week’s news that they offered him a seven-year contract with three club options that would have guaranteed him nearly $25 million, via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. He’d be in the major leagues right now had he accepted, but the 22-year-old (and his agent) clearly believes he’ll be worth more than that down the road.
The Pirates have always been deliberately slow in promoting their top prospects, but the fact that they’re currently fourth in NL Central with a 17-23 record makes it impossible to ignore the reality that promoting Polanco will improve the club.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Stats (Triple-A Memphis): 37 G, .303/.354/.517, 18 XBH (6 HR), 31 RBI, 11 BB, 22 K
Taveras has been on a tear this season at Triple-A Memphis, which isn’t all that surprising if you’re at all familiar with his offensive prowess. The 21-year-old outfielder is currently riding a five-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .400 with three doubles, one home run and six RBI.
Taveras continues to see playing time at all three outfield positions, though Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak mentioned last week, via Drew Silva of NBC Sports, that the top prospect is “average at best” in center, which is another way of saying he needs further work at the position before there’s talk of a promotion.
Taveras lost almost a full year of development due to an ankle injury, so it’s important right now that he receives consistent at-bats at Triple-A. While it’s clear he won’t join the Cardinals as soon as originally expected, Taveras is still likely to get the call in late May/early June when the Super Two deadline has passed.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 39 G, .294/.404/.622, 22 XBH (12 HR), 34 RBI, 27 BB, 38 K
Singleton had a down season in 2013 following his return from a 50-game suspension, but he rediscovered his power stroke during the offseason in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The 22-year-old first baseman has been one of the most productive hitters in the minor leagues through the season’s quarter mark, with a gaudy 1.026 OPS, 12 home runs and 34 RBI in 39 games.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow stated Wednesday that Singleton is “on deck” for a call-up to the major leagues, via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. As for what that means in terms of a specific timetable, Luhnow added that Singleton’s promotion will come “when the time is right.” However, with Springer now serving as the team’s everyday right fielder, my guess is that the slugging duo will be reunited in Houston sometime in June.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A Albuquerque): 39 G, .361/.475/.680, 35 R, 21 XBH (13 HR), 25 RBI, 11 SB, 32 BB, 47 K
Joc Pederson is yet another Triple-A outfielder with nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. The 22-year-old has been a well-rounded, offensive force this season for Albuquerque, as he currently leads the Pacific Coast League in OPS (1.155), total bases (100) and steals (11). He also ranks second in slugging (.680), runs scored (35), hits (53) and home runs (13).
Pederson represents an elite safety net at Triple-A given the Dodgers’ overcrowded, veteran outfield, and he almost certainly will be the first player summoned from the minors should the team need a replacement at either three positions. Regardless, Pederson still should get his first taste of the major leagues at some point this season, though probably not until after the All-Star break.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (Double-A Tennessee): 38 G, .324/.425/.620, 35 R, 20 XBH (11 HR), 33 RBI, 5 SB, 20 BB, 46 K
Kris Bryant continues to pass every test the organization throws his way, and he’s done nothing but surpass all expectations since the Cubs selected him second overall in last year’s draft.
The 22-year-old slugger has put up monster numbers this season in his first taste of the Double-A level, as he currently leads the Southern League in home runs (11), OPS (1.045), total bases (88), runs scored (35) and RBI (33). Bryant will always have some swing and miss to his game as a power hitter who works deep counts, but his on-base skills and underrated feel for hitting makes him more than a one-dimensional player.
The Cubs have no reason to rush Bryant to the major leagues this season, especially with Mike Olt auditioning for a future role with the club. However, considering the speed at which he’s adjusted to Double-A pitching this season—and every level at which he’s played—they may have no choice but to challenge him with a September call-up.
Ken Giles, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats (Triple-A/Double-A): 16 G, 7 SV, 18 IP, 1.50 ERA, .161 BAA, 6 BB, 31 K
Ken Giles, 23, jumped on the big league radar last fall in the Arizona Fall League, as he opened opened eyes with improved command of his triple-digit fastball and ability to put away opposing hitters. The right-hander parlayed his AFL success and impressive showing during spring training into an Opening Day assignment to Double-A Reading, and he’s now at Triple-A.
Giles has been scored on three times this season through 16 appearances, and he's now fanned multiple batters on 11 occasions. Additionally, the flame-throwing right-hander has allowed 10 hits this season, only two of which have gone for extra bases (both doubles).
With Giles’ success through the first quarter of the season and overall potential (12.6 K/9 in 130.1 career innings) as a late-inning weapon, it seems highly unlikely that the Phillies will keep him in the minors for much longer. Plus, the team’s bullpen is overdue for a shake-up, as it’s allowed an NL-leading 17 home runs and currently ranks 14th in ERA (4.68)
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats (Double-A): 8 G/7GS, 3-2, 46 IP, 2.35 ERA, .216 BAA, 12 BB, 44 K
After allowing three runs on a career-worst 10 hits in his season debut for Double-A Jacksonville, Andrew Heaney has been on fire in his last seven outings, registering a 1.99 ERA and a 41/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 40.2 innings. Since his selection by the Marlins with the ninth-overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft, Heaney, 22, has compiled a 2.23 ERA and a 154/42 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 161.1 innings across three full-season levels.
Heaney’s chances of making a significant impact in the major leagues this season improved this week with the news that ace Jose Fernandez will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery Friday, as per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heaney would have spent at least the second half of the season in the Marlins starting rotation, but one has to assume that the left-hander’s estimated time of arrival has improved in the wake of Fernandez’s injury.
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