Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 11
The 2014 season has already seen a collection of notable prospects receive promotions to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are more to come. And soon.
In fact, with the Super Two cutoff coming right around this time, there should be plenty of promotions of primo prospects over the coming days.
Already, highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, Oscar Taveras, Jonathan Singleton and Marcus Stroman are starting for their respective clubs following call-ups.
The big news this week, of course, was the Pittsburgh Pirates' promotion of elite prospect Gregory Polanco, who had been tearing up the International League.
Beyond that, the Baltimore Orioles once again recalled hard-throwing Kevin Gausman, who will make another spot start this week for the injured Miguel Gonzalez; and fellow righty Eddie Butler made his debut for the Colorado Rockies, only to get hit around and then land on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
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 times of arrival 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 11 of the 2014 season.
Others on the Cusp
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
2014 Stats (High-/Double-A): .320/.459/.745, 56 R, 36 XBH (23 HR), 56 RBI, 5 SB, 69:53 K:BB (259 PA)
Ladies and gents, hail Joey Gallo—the current home run leader, not only in the minors but in all of baseball. A 2012 first-round pick, the lefty slugger already has mashed 23 four-baggers, including one in each of his first two games upon being promoted to Double-A earlier this week.
The 20-year-old has the most power in the minors and, frankly, might give Giancarlo Stanton a run for his money among major league hitters, too. And with all of the injuries that have befallen the Texas Rangers all season long, there's been some speculation—more like wishful thinking—that Gallo could get a shot in Arlington to help replace Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland at first base. You know, typical save-the-fate-of-the-franchise stuff.
Thing is, the Rangers have no reason to rush Gallo, given their current circumstances, just to put him at an unfamiliar position when he's barely out of A-ball and still has some serious swing-and-miss to his game (26.6 percent strikeout rate). There have been noticeable improvements in Gallo's plate discipline, and the power is incredible, but giving him anything more than a cup of September java would be shortsighted.
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .273/.309/.515, 39 R, 31 XBH (8 HR), 30 RBI, 10 SB, 62:13 K:BB (249 PA)
Everyone's always wondering about Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, but one of the Chicago Cubs' "other" infield prospects is more likely to make his MLB debut before either of those elite youngsters.
Arismendy Alcantara, 22, might not have the upside of the "BB Boys," but he's closer to joining the North Siders. The switch-hitter brings extra-base pop (14 2B, 9 3B and 8 HR) at an up-the-middle position, which makes him a valuable piece.
What's interesting, though, is that over the last two weeks or so, the Cubs have had Alcantara play up the middle, not at second base but in center field. He made his first ever start there at the end of May and has since roamed the spot twice over the last week, including Wednesday.
While Alcantara has shown he's nearly ready to take over for the offensively challenged Darwin Barney at second, this new development puts his inevitable role in Chicago a bit more up in the air. A little versatility never hurts, though, especially if it helps Alcantara get the call.
Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .322/.381/.442, 45 R, 19 XBH (4 HR), 36 RBI, 1 SB, 31:23 K:BB (287 PA)
The Giants have been baseball's best team through two-plus months, but second base is clearly their weakest spot. Apologies to Brandon Hicks, who does have eight home runs, but he's also a journeyman sporting a sub-.200 average and an on-base percentage that's hovered around .300 the past few weeks.
At Triple-A, Joe Panik, a 23-year-old who was the club's top pick in 2011, is having a quality campaign in his first taste of the level. The numbers are inflated by the hitter-friendly PCL, and the profile is more utility man or capable backup/fill-in than starting second sacker for a contender, but Panik makes a lot of contact (9.9 percent strikeout rate for his career) and could help.
In fact, Panik brings a skill set similar to that of Marco Scutaro, who was expected to be the team's starter at the keystone before injury derailed him.
"This is a bit of a breakout season for Panik," Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Him having struggled the last two years, it's not the most strategic thing to disrupt his season now and throw him into the fire of a pennant race."
That's fair, but since Hicks (righty) and Panik (lefty) bat from opposite sides of the dish, this could be a platoon by the All-Star break or shortly thereafter.
Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .362/.406/.579, 30 R, 22 XBH (3 HR), 21 RBI, 9 SB, 31:13 K:BB (170 PA)
The Mariners have gotten MLB-worsts in each of batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage from their shortstop position. The main culprit? Second-year man Brad Miller (.175/.249/.279).
Despite that, Seattle enters Thursday in possession of the second wild card in the AL at 34-31. Some production from short would be nice, though, right?
That's where Chris Taylor, a 23-year-old drafted in the fifth round in 2012 out of Virginia, just might come into play. The speedy right-handed hitter looked to be on the verge of a call-up back in mid-May, but he broke a finger while sliding (a trendy injury this season) and spent almost a month on the disabled list at Triple-A.
Now healthy, if Taylor can get his rhythm back in short order—and Miller keeps doing next to nothing—something should give.
Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .289/.363/.486, 36 R, 28 XBH (10 HR), 39 RBI, 2 SB, 77:28 K:BB (278 PA)
Two of the three outfield positions in Houston are settled, with veteran Dexter Fowler in center and hot-shot rookie George Springer in right. That leaves the possibility open that left field soon could belong to Domingo Santana.
The spot currently is occupied by Robbie Grossman, who is in only his second year and has solid on-base ability. However, the 24-year-old already was demoted earlier in the season after a slow start to the year, and if he doesn't get and stay hot, Santana is waiting in the wings.
Acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies (perhaps as a stroke of luck) as part of the July 2011 Hunter Pence trade that also brought rookie first baseman Jonathan Singleton to Houston, the 21-year-old has some holes in his swing (27.7 percent strikeout rate) but possesses big-time power.
Santana is likely to factor in at some point in the second half, and when he does, the young, energetic, streaking Astros will become that much more fun to watch.
Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): .343/.434/.527, 59 R, 28 XBH (7 HR), 36 RBI, 22 SB, 23:41 K:BB (290 PA)
As a whole, the Boston Red Sox continue to flounder at 29-36 and five games out of a playoff spot, and their center field situation has been especially ugly.
The combination of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore has compiled an OPS of .576 on the season—dead last in the majors at that position. It's become such a problem that Mookie Betts, a natural second baseman who was bumped up to Triple-A at the beginning of June, has played seven-straight games in center for Pawtucket.
The Red Sox continue to insist that Bradley, who recently was benched for two consecutive games, is their center fielder, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Perhaps the qualifying phrase "for now" should be tacked on to the end of that, though.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 4 W, 3.30 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 4 HR, 75:28 K:BB (62.2 IP)
If their recent signing of Kendrys Morales is any indication, the surprising Minnesota Twins are going for it this season. And if that's the case, then Alex Meyer might not be far behind.
The 24-year-old is a monster on the mound, standing 6'9" with a high-90s fastball and killer curveball (see video). Meyer possesses the kind of power arm that the Twins are lacking—and have been since, like, forever—so getting him to Minnesota to pitch in what looks like a playoff push is only a matter of time.
Plus, the Twins' five-man rotation is sporting a 4.81 ERA that is the worst in the AL (and just about the worst in the sport), so if they're really serious about contending, Meyer needs to be in the mix.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 7 W, 1.51 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 1 HR, 86:23 K:BB (77.2 IP)
Back in late May, Jimmy Nelson made a scoreless spot start after Yovani Gallardo injured his ankle and had to miss a turn. He could be in line for a more permanent position in the rotation pretty soon.
The 25-year-old has been flat-out fantastic with 12 quality starts out of 13—and in the only miss in late May, he didn't give up a single run but only pitched 5.2 frames. He struck out 10 Wednesday night for his second start, with double-digit whiffs in his past three.
At first glance, there isn't an easy fit for Nelson in Milwaukee, where all five starters are healthy. But after a strong beginning to 2014, Marco Estrada's season has taken a turn for the worse. Over his past five starts, he's given up 22 earned runs in 29.2 innings (6.67 ERA), and the right-hander already has surrendered an astounding—and MLB-high—20 home runs.
If the Brewers want to maintain their NL Central lead going forward, Nelson is going to factor in at some point.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .325/.436/.603, 50 R, 30 XBH (16 HR), 37 RBI, 15 SB, 80:45 K:BB (280 PA)
Putting a "green" on Joc Pederson might be pushing it, but only because the Dodgers have more than enough outfielders at the moment. Here's Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles on the club's overcrowding:
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly concedes he is considering a Van Slyke-Andre Ethier platoon in center, which could pair up nicely with a Matt Kemp-Carl Crawford platoon in left, presuming the latter two can function as selflessly as the center fielders seem to be doing.
That might be a big if. Just Monday, Crawford admitted to some frustration about his unsettled role now that Kemp has been shifted. Kemp called it “a little weird” when he was asked to move positions and seemed to pout on the days he was held out of the lineup during the transition.
While that doesn't sound like the sort of scenario into which a team would want to insert one of its top prospects, the 22-year-old Pederson makes sense because he would be the Dodgers' best defensive center fielder. Plus, he's just about conquered the minor leagues' highest level.
Should L.A.—plodding along and stuck in second in the NL West at 35-32—want to shake things up, Pederson is ready.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 7 W, 2.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 3 HR, 79:15 K:BB (76.2 IP)
Andrew Heaney has been a regular on this list, and deservedly so. Not only has the 23-year-old continued his impressive campaign with dominant outings in three of his first four starts since being promoted to Triple-A, but there also isn't much in his way in Miami.
While Heaney has been showing just how ready he is at New Orleans, the trio of Tom Koehler, Jacob Turner and Randy Wolf have been struggling at the back of the Marlins five-man rotation of late. Turner had another rough turn Wednesday against the Texas Rangers, and Heaney is slated to start Thursday for the Zephyrs. It wouldn't be at all surprising if that's his last one on the farm.
As Mike Redmond, manager of the in-the-thick-of-the-NL-East-race Marlins, told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com earlier in the week:
I know there's been a lot of speculation of when he's coming to the big leagues. I'm not sure when that's going to happen. But I know he's pitched down there, he's done a nice job, and when that day comes, you guys will be the first to know. But it's not today.
Pretty soon, however, it will be.
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