Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
2014 Statistics: .225/.287/.437, 22 R, 17 XBH (7 HR), 25 RBI, 4 SB, 56:12 K:BB (167 PA)
On the whole, Baez's 2014 would be categorized as "cold," but few hitters have been hotter over the past two weeks. The 21-year-old is batting .422 (19-for-45) with four homers among his 12 extra-base hits during an 11-game hitting streak. The strikeout rate (33.5 percent) remain a concern, but they always will with Baez's aggressive approach and violent swing. If he can stay hot, expect Baez to get a look with the Cubs in late summer/early fall in preparation for being on the Opening Day roster next year.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Statistics: .323/.369/.527, 30 R, 22 XBH (7 HR), 40 RBI, 1 SB, 25:14 K:BB (203 PA)
Taveras would be a no-brainer to be up with the Cardinals before he turns 22 on June 19, except there's no easy way to fit him into the big league roster at the moment. That's part of the reason he's been playing center field—his easiest path to St. Louis—on a regular basis since early May, and if he keeps hitting like he has over the past week (15-for-30, four extra-base hits), he may just force the Cardinals' hands.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Statistics: 5 W, 2.90 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 3 HR, 53:32 K:BB (59.0 IP)
The 2010 first-rounder is still walking too many (4.9 BB/9) but has limited the damage by allowing only one run across his last three starts (19.1 innings). That has put Ranaudo, 24, in position for a call-up should the recently recalled Brandon Workman falter or the Red Sox decide, as Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe suggests, they can't take any more of Clay Buchholz (7.02 ERA).
Travis Shaw, 1B, Boston Red Sox
2014 Statistics: .304/.402/.538, 36 R, 20 XBH (11 HR), 37 RBI, 5 SB, 24:29 K:BB (215 PA)
After a down year in 2013 (.221 BA), this 24-year-old returned to Double-A and beat up on the competition, a performance that just got him promoted to Pawtucket over the weekend. Shaw is looking like quite a find as a ninth-rounder in 2009 who could reach Boston as a bat off the bench later in the year.
Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Statistics: 4 W, 4.56 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 5 HR, 40:15 K:BB (53.1 IP)
Lee, 22, had been making steady progress through the Dodgers' system since being taken 28th overall in 2010, but he's struggling in his first taste of the hitter-friendly PCL. He's given up at least as many hits as innings pitched in seven straight starts and his 65 total hits allowed ranks fourth in the circuit behind a trio of major league retreads.
John Lamb, LHP, Kansas City Royals
2014 Statistics: 2 W, 4.59 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 10 HR, 54:23 K:BB (51.0 IP)
Once one of the Royals' most promising pitching prospects (is that an oxymoron?), Lamb's stuff has never fully made it back from Tommy John surgery that cost him most of 2011 and 2012. The 23-year-old has made it to the minors' highest level, but only two pitchers in the PCL have surrendered more than his 10 homers. He's close to becoming an org arm.
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Statistics: 4 W, 4.42 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 10 HR, 43:22 K:BB (57.0 IP)
Cooney, 23, also has given up 10 long balls, five of which have come in his past two outings. In those eight innings, he's allowed 17 hits, seven walk and 12 earned to see his ERA jump from 2.94 to 4.42. That certainly qualifies as "cold."
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Statistics: .345/.408/.558, 36 R, 25 XBH (6 HR), 43RBI, 10 SB, 40:20 K:BB (218 PA)
You might be surprised to see Polanco in this section, but if you've been following the 22-year-old's season, you're aware of just how ridiculous his numbers were only a week ago—and why he fits here for now. The lefty swinger has gone just 3-for-27 (.111) with but one extra-base hit (albeit a homer) over his past seven games. Maybe he's just saving his next hot stretch for Pittsburgh.
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