Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 8
The 2014 season already has seen a collection of notable prospects receive promotions to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are many, many more to come. And soon.
In fact, with the Super Two target deadline approaching by mid-June, there should be plenty of promotions of primo prospects in the coming month.
Already, highly regarded youngsters George Springer, C.J. Cron and Rougned Odor are each starting for their respective clubs following early season call-ups.
More recently, the New York Mets brought up right-handers Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom for their debuts last week, while Trevor Bauer resurfaced in Cleveland and Kolten Wong did the same in St. Louis.
It shouldn't be long until other impact talents join the mix.
So, who will be the next 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 8 of the 2014 season.
Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Alexander Guerrero, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 33 G, .376/.417/.735, 19 XBH (10 HR), 29 RBI, 1 SB, 18:6 K:BB
At the outset of this week, that "Radar" color might have been green for Alexander Guerrero, who has been hitting the ball all over (and out of) the park at Albuquerque. Not only that, but the 27-year-old actually had started seeing some time at shortstop of late and could've become the club's utility infielder sooner than later.
Combine that with Juan Uribe's balky hamstring forcing him to return to the disabled list on Wednesday, and Guerrero may have been the most likely candidate to come up to get a chance to show what he can do. Except he may miss up to five weeks, as Danny Knobler reports for ESPN Los Angeles, after requiring plastic surgery to re-attach the part of his ear that was bitten off by journeyman catcher Miguel Olivo in a dugout altercation on Tuesday. (Yes, really.)
Considering that Guerrero, who signed a four-year, $28 million deal out of Cuba last year, was expected to take over second base to start the season before his transition to the position in America didn't go as smoothly as hoped, it's going to be a while still before he makes it to Los Angeles.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 10 G, 5 W, 53.2 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57:19 K:BB
Mets top prospect—and one of the best in the entire sport—Noah Syndergaard is only a few weeks away from becoming the third young, hard-throwing right-hander in three years to make a midseason debut in Flushing after Matt Harvey (2012) and Zack Wheeler (2013).
That said, Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently indicated he doesn't want to create a "Noah watch" in New York, per Mike Vorkunov of the The Star-Ledger.
The 21-year-old hasn't owned Triple-A in the same way he dominated at Double-A last year and in the low minors before that. This can be attributed in part to pitching in a hitter-friendly league (the Pacific Coast League) and in a hitter-friendly park (Las Vegas). Hence, his .358 BABIP.
Syndergaard has, however, continued to whiff at least a batter per inning, something he's done every season of his pro career. In other words, his stuff is still big league-caliber. Soon, Syndergaard himself will be, too.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 42 G, .313/.361/.512, 20 XBH (6 HR), 34 RBI, 1 SB, 22:12 K:BB
After leading the NL in runs scored in 2013, the Cardinals' offensive production to begin 2014 has been, well, offensive (and not in the good way). The club's 3.8 runs per game ranks as the sixth-lowest total in the majors.
Because they're 25-21 and only 2.5 back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, the Cards can afford to wait on some of their stalwarts, like Allen Craig, Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter, to turn it up a notch or two. But if that doesn't happen over the next two or three weeks, some sort of spark may be required.
That's likely to come from Oscar Taveras, a consensus top-five prospect in the game as a 21-year-old at Triple-A. Taveras is showing he has a sense of timing, too, as he's gone 16-for-41 (.390) over his past 10 games to make sure the Cardinals decision-makers are taking notice.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 44 G, .269/.398/.563, 22 XBH (12 HR), 35 RBI, 0 SB, 46:35 K:BB
Jonathan Singleton has cooled some since his hot start, having gone just 14-for-61 (.230) in May. And yet, his on-base percentage this month remains .397, proving that his plate discipline is still going strong.
The depth chart at first base in Houston is ugly (Chris Carter, Jesus Guzman and Marc Krauss), and the Astros' .276 OBP and .304 SLG out of that position so far are the third and second worst in baseball.
Singleton, 22, would be a massive upgrade tomorrow, and although that won't happen, he will get a chance to make his MLB debut soon enough.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 44 G, .374/.435/.598, 24 XBH (5 HR), 39 RBI, 10 SB, 35:18 K:BB
Despite showing he's more than ready for the majors, Gregory Polanco is an unfortunate casualty of the Super Two date, which usually passes in mid-June. The small-market, fiscally frugal Pirates will call the 22-year-old up at that point, thus allowing them to avoid Polanco gaining a fourth year of arbitration eligibility (instead of the usual three).
Until then, Polanco will keep doing what he's doing at Indianapolis, which is wreak havoc on offense and continue to work on his transition from center field to right field. He'll be taking over that spot in Pittsburgh, just as soon as it's financially convenient for the fourth-place Pirates, who rank in the bottom half of the majors in offense.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
2014 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 18 G, 1 W, 6 SV, 19.2 IP, 1.37 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 39:7 K:BB
The son of Steve Bedrosian, the 1987 NL Cy Young winner with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cam has started to make good on being a first-round selection by the Angels in 2010.
The start of the 22-year-old's pro career was halted by Tommy John surgery in 2011. After he flamed out as a starter upon returning, the club turned Bedrosian into a reliever. His power arm has taken to that role rather well, as you can see by the numbers above.
Promoted to Double-A after all of five appearances at High-A, Bedrosian looks to be on the fast track to the majors if he can keep this up and stay healthy. In fact, general manager Jerry Dipoto told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he's be "surprised" if Bedrosian doesn't reach Los Angeles at some point this season.
With the back of the Angels bullpen still somewhat unsettled, Bedrosian can't get there soon enough.
Ken Giles, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats (Double-A/Triple-A): 18 G, 2 W, 8 SV, 21.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 33:10 K:BB
Outside of closer Jonathan Papelbon, who's been better than you think (2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), the Phillies bullpen has been awful. The club's 4.86 reliever ERA is baseball's fourth worst.
That's where Ken Giles comes in. After dominating at Double-A to start the season, the 23-year-old reliever was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago, putting him one step closer to the bigs. The hard-throwing righty sits in the upper 90s and regularly tickles triple digits, and is working on his control and command at Lehigh Valley, per Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Daily News.
If Giles can harness his stuff (5.5 BB/9 career) over the next few weeks, it won't be long before he reaches Philadelphia to provide some much-needed relief.
Tommy La Stella, 2B, Atlanta Braves
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 42 G, .291/.377/.338, 6 XBH (0 HR), 20 RBI, 1 SB, 13:21 K:BB
The Dan Uggla era in Atlanta is just about over. The veteran slugger hasn't been playing regularly, let alone starting, over the past two weeks as the Braves have given time to the likes of Tyler Pastornicky and Ramiro Pena at second base.
Meanwhile, Tommy La Stella continues to do his on-base thing at Gwinnett, where his .387 OBP this month is just about in line with his career mark of .407. The 25-year-old lefty hitter hasn't done a ton of damage with the stick this year (.338 SLG), but he has a good approach and knows how to make contact (7.4 percent strikeout rate).
"The biggest thing for me," he told Zach Dillard of Fox Sports South, "is even when I'm not hitting the ball well, I want to make sure I'm working the counts, seeing a lot of pitches."
That's something Atlanta could use right now. With the Braves striking out at the highest rate in the majors (23.7 percent) and scoring the second fewest runs per game (3.3), can a switch to see what La Stella can do be that far off?
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (Triple-A): N/A
Remember this guy? You should, because James Paxton kicked off his 2014 season with two strong starts and two wins for the Mariners, the second of which he was forced to leave early due to a strained lat muscle in his right side.
Well, the 25-year-old lefty has been making his way back slowly. Paxton threw a two-inning simulated game last weekend and is in line to start a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma this weekend, per Greg Johns of MLB.com.
If all goes well, Paxton could make his return to Seattle in early June to give the Mariners another quality arm behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 9 G, 5 W, 58.0 IP, 1.71 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 58:17 K:BB
After Jimmy Nelson's ninth straight quality start on Sunday, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted: "If Brewers ever need a starting pitcher, [Nelson's] at top of the list."
As it happens, the Crew just may need a starter in the wake of Yovani Gallardo's ankle injury Tuesday, which Haudricourt reports may cost him a turn.
Nelson is arguably the top prospect in what is, admittedly, one of the worst farm systems in baseball. A second-rounder from 2010 who turns 25 the first week of June, Nelson got a 10-inning taste of the majors last September and has been throwing extremely well at Triple-A at the outset of 2014.
Considering Nelson already is on the 40-man roster, a call-up for a spot start on Sunday makes sense.
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