Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 12
The 2014 season has seen a number of notable prospects receive call-ups to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are more to come—and soon.
In fact, with the Super Two cutoff now in the rear-view mirror, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects arriving over the coming days.
Already, highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Gregory Polanco are starting for their respective clubs.
Over the past week or so, the injury-riddled Colorado Rockies called up left-hander Tyler Matzek and first baseman/outfielder Kyle Parker, just as the floundering Philadelphia Phillies gave a shot to hard-throwing closer of the future Ken Giles.
The Boston Red Sox brought back third baseman Garin Cecchini, and the Miami Marlins did the same with outfielder Jake Marsnick, who debuted late in the 2013 season, to help cover for the injured Christian Yelich.
It shouldn't be long until other impact talents join the mix as well.
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 the prospects on this list 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 12 of the 2014 MLB season.
Others on the Cusp
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs
Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners
Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants
Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats (Low-A): 0-1, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 0 HR, 6/0 K/BB (5.0 IP)
Guess who's back? That's right: Dylan Bundy, once the preeminent pitching prospect in baseball before Tommy John surgery robbed him of his entire 2013 season.
The 21-year-old's recovery has reached the rehab-start phase, and he threw well during his first time out on Sunday, posting five innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts and no walks in the short-season New York-Penn League.
The plan is to have Bundy make two more starts for Aberdeen, at which point he'll be re-evaluated and pushed up to a higher affiliate, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
The Orioles already have six starters vying for five major league rotation spots now that fellow top right-handed prospect Kevin Gausman is showing his stuff with three consecutive great outings. That's OK, though, because Bundy isn't going to be ready to return to the majors any time soon.
He could, however, be a possibility as a late-season addition for the bullpen, which has had its struggles outside of new-found closer Zach Britton. After all, that was Bundy's role when he made his big league debut in September of 2012 while the O's were fighting for a postseason berth. Could history repeat itself?
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (Double-A): .355/.458/.702, 61 R, 42 XBH (22 HR), 58 RBI, 8 SB, 77:43 K:BB (297 PA)
The song remains the same for Kris Bryant, which is simultaneously both incredible and disappointing for different reasons.
Last year's No. 2 overall pick continues to demolish minor league pitching, a point he underscored by beating down the competition to win the Southern League All-Star Game Home Run Derby with 16 taters on Monday at spacious Engel Stadium.
After playing in the circuit's All-Star Game on Tuesday, Bryant was promoted to Triple-A, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
What could possibly be disappointing about all this, then? Well, the Cubs continue to insist that Bryant—like many of their other prospects—needs to conquer each level of the minors before getting a shot at The Show.
"We tell every prospect to go dominate," general manager Jed Hoyer told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. "[Bryant is] obviously doing that. We probably want to see it for a little while longer."
In other words, the 22-year-old Bryant will have to keep his hot hitting up at Iowa for at least another month or two if he wants to get to Chicago before September.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
2014 Stats (Double-A): .280/.365/.387, 45 R, 15 XBH (5 HR), 38 RBI, 19 SB, 45:35 K:BB (300 PA)
With Xander Bogaerts already in the majors and Javier Baez, Carlos Correa and Addison Russell still to come, there's a ton of young talent at the shortstop position across the league. While it might be a stretch to say that Francisco Lindor often gets forgotten about, it would not be inaccurate to say that he might occasionally be overlooked.
The thing is, Lindor just might beat Baez to the Bigs, and he's the best of the bunch from a defensive standpoint, as Baseball America can vouch (subscription required):
Lindor shines even brighter on defense, where he has the potential to be a Gold Glove shortstop. Beyond just his soft hands and above-average arm, Lindor has an advanced feel for anticipating plays. He slows the game down and always plays under control. His work ethic is second to none as well. He doesn’t just settle with getting by on talent and is driven to be a complete player.
The Indians have Asdrubal Cabrera, but he's been dreadful on defense for a team that's had all sorts of issues with the leather, as Jim Ingraham writes for the Morning Journal. Besides, the free-agent-to-be very easily could be traded by the end of July. If that happens—and frankly, even if it doesn't—Lindor is a near-guarantee to make his debut in Cleveland this season so he can be groomed to take over in 2015.
Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 29:9 K:BB, 13 SV (26.2 IP)
San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo got off to a fabulous beginning in 2014, but you may not have noticed just how much he's struggling lately. Over his past eight innings (stretched across nine appearances), Romo has given up 11 hits and 11 runs while blowing three of eight save opportunities.
He's still secure in his gig, but if the team wants some late-inning reinforcements to give Romo a chance to get back in rhythm, or if another injury knocks one of the veteran relievers out again (Santiago Casilla spent a month on the disabled list), Heath Hembree is a phone call away.
The 25-year-old was once considered the club's closer of the future, and while he still might be, his power arm would at least provide quality depth for now. Plus, he already has some big league experience, having made nine scoreless appearances for the club last September.
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 2-7, 2.65 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 64:26 K:BB (85.0 IP)
Injuries to Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano, who were only expected to be the Pittsburgh Pirates' top-two starting pitchers this year, have left the rotation in shambles. Seriously, try to name more than two Pirates starters.
As the team fights to stay in the playoff picture for a second straight season, it's hard to see that continuing with the likes of—drum roll, please—Charlie Morton, Edinson Volquez, Brandon Cumpton, Vance Worley and Jeff Locke holding down the fort.
The Pirates might as well call up Nick Kingham, their most major-league-ready pitching prospect who was just promoted to Triple-A. He threw seven innings of shutout ball in his first start there last week and followed that up with seven more frames of one-run ball Wednesday.
The 22-year-old profiles as a mid-rotation arm and is, in fact, a candidate in consideration for a call-up, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. With Gregory Polanco already up with the big league club and performing well, it's time to get all hands—and arms—on deck.
Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): .346/.434/.537, 64 R, 32 XBH (8 HR), 43 RBI, 26 SB, 29:44 K:BB (320 PA)
You've heard by now that the Boston Red Sox have put an end—mercifully—to the Grady Sizemore Experiment. The team designated the injury-prone outfielder for assignment on Tuesday, per Kyle Brasseur of ESPN Boston.
The corresponding move was to recall third baseman Garin Cecchini, who debuted for a hot minute earlier in the year, to fill the roster spot. It's unlikely that Cecchini, a solid prospect in his own right, is going to be long for the 25-man roster, however, because he's a third baseman—a position that happens to be inhabited by Xander Bogaerts.
By comparison, Boston's outfield situation remains a bit of a wreck, and now there's an even bigger need in center field with Sizemore gone and the struggling rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. being the only other legitimate option (apologies to Brock Holt).
Can it be much longer before the Sox take a chance on Mookie Betts, a natural second baseman who has been playing center regularly since being bumped up to Pawtucket in early June?
Maybe the answer is to bring up Betts, 21, and put his righty bat in a platoon with the lefty-hitting Bradley. That way, neither youngster would be overexposed and Boston could see if Betts can provide a spark.
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 7-4, 2.77 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 78:29 K:BB (74.2 IP)
Once an intriguing arm in the Philadelphia Phillies system because of his strikeout potential, Trevor May was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the December 2012 trade of Ben Revere.
Between his advancing age (25 in September) and a couple of seasons plagued by poor control and command (career 4.5 BB/9), May's prospect stock has taken a hit since. But he's been much better and much more consistent this year during his first stint in Triple-A, to the point where the Twins have to consider seeing what he can do in the majors.
As fate would have it, there's an opening now that the club decided enough is enough with Samuel Deduno in the rotation, as Derek Wetmore of ESPN 1500 reports. The replacement? Some 30-year-old minor league veteran named Yohan Pino. Please.
While Alex Meyer is the bigger name, he's also not on the 40-man roster. May is, however, so expect him to get a shot in short order.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (Single-/Double-/Triple-A): 2-1, 3.12 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 34:10 K:BB (26.0 IP)
Expected to make the Mariners' five-man out of spring training, top prospect Taijuan Walker instead had to be shut down due to shoulder inflammation and discomfort.
Although the 21-year-old's rehab has had some fits and starts along the way, he now appears on the verge of making his 2014 major league debut after a very strong turn his last time out at for Tacoma. Walker had a no-hitter heading into the seventh inning on Saturday and wound up throwing 6.2 frames, allowing just one run on one hit and three walks with seven strikeouts.
While Seattle's front four of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, out-of-nowhere rookie Roenis Elias and surprise bounce-back veteran Chris Young, Erasmo Ramirez is more or less a placeholder in the fifth spot at the moment.
As manager Lloyd McClendon said to Adam Lewis of MLB.com:
I don't have a timetable for when Taijuan Walker is coming here. Contrary to popular belief, I don't make that decision to when he's coming here. I've said this time and time again, my job is to take the players that the general manager gives me and help them to perform to the best of their ability. I don't pick the roster. Do I have a say? Yes. But do I dictate when Taijuan Walker is coming here? No.
Paging Mr. Zduriencik.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 7-2, 2.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 79/15 K/BB (76.2 IP)
This one is cheating a little bit, because we already know that Andrew Heaney is set to make his MLB debut for the Miami Marlins on Thursday night against the New York Mets. In fact, it was reported Monday by Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, among others.
This is a much-anticipated decision not only because Heaney, 23, is arguably the top lefty pitching prospect in the game, but also because the back of the Marlins rotation—namely, Randy Wolf and Jacob Turner—has been shaky at best.
With Miami right there in a very winnable NL East, designating Wolf for assignment and bringing Heaney aboard is addition by subtraction and addition.
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