Predicting MLB Arrival Date of Each Prospect in the All-Star Futures Game
The baseball world is still buzzing following Tuesday’s announcement of the 2014 Futures Game rosters, as this year’s collection of talent will feature as many familiar names and fresh faces.
Trying to determine when a player might arrive in the major leagues is an important part of evaluating prospects, as it forces one to consider a player’s future potential in relation to his organization’s current outlook.
Though call-ups during the season tend to be at least partially tied to a player’s preseason development timeline, there also are many unexpected promotions that come from out of nowhere. (Marco Gonzales, anyone?)
So when can fans expect to see this year’s Futures Game selections in the major leagues? Here’s a breakdown of each team’s roster complete with ETAs for every player.
US Team: Catchers
Kevin Plawecki, New York Mets
Plawecki is likely to be promoted soon to Triple-A Las Vegas, according ESPN New York. The news doesn’t come as a surprise, as the 23-year-old catcher has batted .326/.378/.478 with six home runs and 43 RBI in 58 games. Unfortunately, Plawecki currently has Travis d’Arnaud blocking his path to the major leagues, and the Mets have no intention of giving up on him anytime soon.
Plawecki likely will spend the rest of the season at Las Vegas but could conceivably receive his first taste of the major leagues should d’Arnaud hit the disabled list for an extended period of time. However, a debut at some point during 2015 is more realistic, as the Mets have no need to rush Plawecki’s development this season.
Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay Rays
O’Conner takes home honors as the most unexpected selection to this year’s Futures Game, as we all know his spot should have went to Blake Swihart. That said, the 22-year-old backstop still was worth consideration for the roster, as he’s in the midst of a long overdue breakout campaign this year at High-A Charlotte.
O’Conner has tremendous arm strength behind the plate, evidenced by his 58 percent caught stealing rate this season, and overall he projects to be an above-average defender by the time he reaches the major leagues.
However, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the right-handed hitter’s raw approach and high strikeout rate (60-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55 games) may require a few more years of refinement in the minor leagues.
World Team: Catchers
Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers
Although Alfaro flashes huge potential on both sides of the ball, the 21-year-old’s overall game still is both raw and inconsistent and leaves something to be desired, especially as it relates to his ability as a blocker and receiver.
Alfaro likely will need at least two more seasons in the minors to refine his defense and approach, which means he could be ready to debut with the Rangers at some point during the 2016 season.
Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
ETA: Debuted in 2013
After getting a cup of coffee with the Braves last season as a September call-up, Bethancourt, 22, is almost a lock to see time in the major leagues this year, even if it’s only to serve a limited role as the team’s third-string catcher.
US Team: Infielders
Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
ETA: Late 2015
Seager has nothing left to prove this season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, as the 20-year-old has already mastered the California League with a 1.033 OPS, 44 extra-base hits and 53 RBI in 66 games.
However, if the Dodgers stick to their usual developmental timeline for top prospects, Seager may not receive his promotion to Double-A Chattanooga until the season’s final months—similar to how he was moved from Low- to High-A last year in early August.
Seager’s arrival in the major leagues seemingly will depend on whether the Dodgers agree to a contract extension with Hanley Ramirez. If the team ends up having to replace Ramirez next season, then it might be more inclined to challenge Seager and accelerate his timeline. That said, I’d still be surprised to see him in the majors before late 2015.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
J.P. Crawford has proved to be more advanced than expected in his brief professional career, as the 19-year-old shortstop has already received a promotion to High-A Clearwater just halfway into his first full season.
While he obviously won’t be ready to replace Jimmy Rollins at next season, Crawford is already on the fast track to the major leagues and, assuming his development goes as planned, could be ready to debut during the 2016 season.
Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
ETA: Late 2014
After doing unkind things to Eastern League pitchers for the first 54 games of the season, Betts was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket in early June and is now playing at his fourth full-season level in the last two years.
More significantly, Betts has played center field in 14 of his 20 games with Pawtucket, which suggests the Red Sox could be considering the 21-year-old as an option at the position as early as this season. Even if the team’s outfield situation was to miraculously improve on its own, it’s going to be hard for it to suppress Betts and his impact potential in the minors.
Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
Johnson took home Minor League Player of the Year honors last year in his full-season debut, and he’s now knocking on the door of the major leagues after a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte in late May.
The 23-year-old second baseman has shown better plate discipline this season while trimming some of the swing-and-miss from his game, but he’s also struggled on the basepaths with 14 stolen bases in 23 attempts over 61.
The resurgence of Gordon Beckham this season means Johnson is unlikely to reach the major leagues before September save for an injury or trade. However, he should be ready to take over at second base in 2016 should Beckham end up leaving via free agency.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
ETA: Late 2014
So, have you heard about this Kris Bryant guy? Yeah, me either.
Last week Cubs president Theo Epstein stated (via Jesse Rogers on Twitter) that he doesn’t “foresee” Bryant playing in the major leagues this season—which is what any wise front office official would say when trying to temper expectations.
While it makes sense to let him develop in the minor leagues for the entire season, there’s also no way officials let him approach 40 home runs while at Triple-A. I predict Bryant will ultimately force the organization’s hand and spend the final month of the regular season in the major leagues.
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners
ETA: Early 2015
Regarded as the most advanced college hitter in the 2013 draft class, D.J. Peterson’s advanced approach and impressive bat already have him moving up the organizational ladder, as the 22-year-old was promoted (via Peterson himself on Twitter) to Double-A Jackson on Tuesday after putting up huge numbers in the California League.
I don’t think he’ll reach the major leagues this year, but Peterson should still hit his way into a call-up with the Mariners during the 2015 season.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
Gallo is currently tied with Kris Bryant for the minor league lead with 27 home runs, with six of them coming in his first 13 games at Double-A Frisco following his promotion to the level in mid-June.
The 20-year-old slugger is a long shot to reach the major leagues this season, but one has to believe it’s at least on the Rangers’ mind given the recent promotion. It’s a fun thought to entertain, but I wouldn’t expect Gallo to arrive until 2015.
Peter O’Brien, 3B/C/OF, New York Yankees
ETA: Late 2015
O'Brien, like Bryant and Gallo, has put up monster numbers this season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, but his inability to control the strike zone suggests that his current level of production is likely to regress over the remainder of the season.
He doesn’t profile cleanly at any one position, but the Yankees still are likely to try to get his right-handed power in their lineup at some point next season.
World Team: Infielders
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
ETA: Late 2014
Baez’s highly anticipated season at Triple-A Iowa hasn’t gone as expected, but that shouldn’t make him any less likely to receive a call-up later this season. The 21-year-old has a track record of putting up big numbers during the second half of a season, so expect him to finally get a look with the Cubs once he’s officially righted the ship.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
ETA: Late 2014
Like I’ve said since the beginning of the season, all signs point to the Indians giving the 20-year-old shortstop a second-half promotion to the major leagues before taking over at the position in 2015.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Atlanta Braves
Peraza, 20, has jumped on the fast track to the major leagues—indicated by his shift from shortstop to second base in deference to Andrelton Simmons—this season with his outstanding performance at a pair of advanced levels.
Having already received a promotion to Double-A Mississippi in the last week, Peraza shows no signs of slowing down until he reaches the major leagues, which could happen as early as mid-2015.
Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies
With Troy Tulowitzki under contract through the 2020 season, being a shortstop in the Rockies’ system can’t be an easy gig. The 21-year-old switch-hitter is currently playing for High-A Modesto but will need a few more years in the minor leagues to develop. And with Tulo locked in at the position for the foreseeable future, it might make sense for the Rockies to dangle Herrera as trade bait later this season.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
ETA: Late 2014
Franco, 21, is yet to emerge from his season-long funk at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, as he’s struggled to the tune of a .595 OPS and hit only five home runs through 74 games. The Phillies won’t have to rush him to the major leagues this season so long as Cody Asche stays healthy. Though at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if they audition him at the hot corner as a Sept. call-up.
Kennys Vargas, 1B, Minnesota Twins
ETA: Late 2015
While Vargas stands out for his plus raw power as 6’5”, 275-pound first baseman, the 23-year-old switch-hitter actually is a much more mature and disciplined hitter than people realize. Beyond his potential to hit 20-25 home runs in a given season, Vargas also projects as at least an average hitter with strong on-base skills at the highest level.
With Joe Mauer now serving as the Twins’ everyday first baseman, Vargas’ clearest path to the major leagues will likely come as a designated hitter, though that will also depend on what the organization does with Kendry Morales.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
Correa once again turned in a better than expected first half of the season at High-A Lancaster, as the 19-year-old appeared poised to receive a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi in late June/early July.
Unfortunately, the remainder of Correa’s season—which potentially could have concluded with a brief taste of the major leagues had things gone well at Double-A—is now in jeopardy after he suffered a serious ankle injury on Sunday while sliding into third base. I guess we have no choice but to come to terms with the idea of Correa not taking the field until next season.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Oakland Athletics
Nunez, 20, is showing more consistent power and a better approach this season at High-A Stockton, while the presence of Josh Donaldson in the major leagues will give the A’s freedom to ensure he develops thoroughly in the minors.
US Team: Outfielders
Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds
ETA: Late 2015
One of the more underrated hitters in the minor leagues, Winker, 20, quietly has jumped on the major league radar this season by hitting both for average and power at a pair of advanced levels, including Double-A. He won’t reach the major leagues this season, but Winker’s bat could have him in the mix for time in left field during the 2015 season.
Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals
ETA: Late 2014
After years of flashing his potential in the low minors, Taylor, 23, appears to finally be putting it all together this season, as he’s doing a little bit of everything offensively while offering his usual plus defense in center field.
Though he’s on the Nats’ 40-man roster, creating space for Taylor in the outfield this season prior to his inevitable call-up in September is likely to cause more bad than good unless it’s in response to an injury. However, the Nats are big believers in the kid (so am I), so expect him to be in the mix once there’s a vacancy in the outfield.
James Ramsey, St. Louis Cardinals
Ramsey, the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is hitting for both average and power this season in his second tour of the Double-A level. However, the 24-year-old won’t have a clear path to the major leagues anytime soon with Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk ahead of him on the organizational depth chart.
Given the aforementioned talent, Ramsey’s only chance at cracking the big league roster will be as a fourth outfielder possibly next season.
Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
ETA: Late 2015
Moved up to High-A Bradenton for his 2014 campaign, Bell, 21, has made offensive strides in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, as he’s hitting for a high average, showing improved power and handling the strike zone.
Bell is developing a track record of strong performances in challenging environments, so expect him to receive a promotion to Double-A in the near future, thus setting him up for a potential late 2015 debut with the Pirates.
Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres
ETA: Late 2015
Selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Renfroe, 22, has excelled this year in his first full professional season while proving to be less raw than expected.
His approach and pitch recognition both need considerable refinement, but the power-starved Padres may try to expedite his arrival in the major leagues, which would support the organization’s decision to promote Renfroe last week to Double-A San Antonio. Still, I wouldn’t expect to see him in a Padres uniform at any point this season.
World Team: Outfielders
Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
ETA: Late 2014
Santana, 21, is on pace to put up career-best numbers across the board this season while serving as one of the youngest everyday players at the Triple-A level. His hit tool is still suspect due to his penchant for whiffing, but the right-handed batter’s power is legit and should translate to 20-plus home runs annually at the highest level.
Santana lacks a clear path to playing time in the Astros outfield and could use the full season in the minor leagues; however, I still think he gets a look later in the year, even if it’s only in September.
Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Seattle Mariners
The nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, Gabriel, 20, has shown more consistent power as well as better plate discipline this season at High-A High Desert, and he could be in store for a promotion to Double-A at some point later in the summer. If he continues down his current development path, Guerrero potentially could be ready for an audition with the Mariners in 2016.
Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
ETA: Late 2015
Pompey, 21, has made a name for himself this season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, as he’s shown a high-end combination of hit/power potential and speed while also playing a solid center field. Toronto has a few intriguing prospects at the position, but Pompey should be the first to reach the major leagues, possibly as early as late next season.
Dariel Alvarez, Baltimore Orioles
ETA: Late 2014
Signed by the Orioles last July after defecting from Cuba, Alvarez is putting together a surprisingly productive first full season in the states, as the 25-year-old is hitting for both average and power in the Eastern League. His swing and approach both will be exploited by big league pitching once he arrives, though it’s still likely the Orioles call him up at some point this season.
Steven Moya, Detroit Tigers
Moya, 22, is enjoying a breakout season this year at Double-A Erie but still has a long, long way to go in terms of improving his approach and plate discipline before the Tigers will deem him ready for the major leagues.
US Team: Pitchers
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
ETA: Late 2014
Noah Syndergaard's performance at Triple-A Las Vegas this season has been up and down, as he's maintained solid strikeout and walk rates but also been knocked around at times in the Pacific Coast League. Go figure. As long as the 21-year-old’s minor elbow injury from last month is a non-issue moving forward, he should still make his highly anticipated debut with the Mets in late 2014.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Even though Stephenson, 21, has held his own this season at Double-A Pensacola, the right-hander has shown varying command from start to start and run into trouble when working up in the zone with his explosive fastball. There’s no denying that Stephenson’s pure stuff gives him impact potential, but don’t expect the Reds to call on him this season unless they’re in a serious bind due to injuries.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
ETA: Late 2014
Despite his impressive numbers at Double-A Portland, Owens, a 6’6” left-hander, has struggled with his command this season and lacked consistency from start to start.
That said, the 21-year-old southpaw has continued to both avoid and miss barrels this season—as he does so well when his secondary pitches are sharp—and, in my opinion, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Owens doesn’t reach the major leagues before the end of the season.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Few pitchers in the low minors have been as impressive as Hunter Harvey this season, as the 19-year-old—this is his full-season debut—has dominated older hitters in the South Atlantic League. As was the case with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in recent years, Harvey should be able to move quickly through the minor leagues compared to his peers.
Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Braden Shipley, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has already received a promotion to High-A Visalia, and he should continue to move up the ladder in a hurry thanks to his power arsenal and hugely underrated feel for pitching.
Much like the Dodgers, Orioles and Tigers, Arizona doesn’t mess around with its pitching prospects (think Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs). So expect Shipley, as long as he stays healthy, to get to the majors sometime during the 2015 season.
Jake Thompson, RHP, Detroit Tigers
ETA: Late 2015
Moved up to High-A Lakeland for the 2014 season, Thompson, 20, has thrived against advanced hitters in the Florida State League and will likely get a taste of Double-A before the season ends.
If he handles the Eastern League as he did the FSL, then it’s possible the Tigers—an organization known for getting its top pitching prospects to the major leagues ahead of schedule—will audition him at the highest level at some point next season.
Christian Binford, RHP, Kansas City Royals
A 30th-round draft pick in 2011, Binford has quietly emerged as one of the best pitchers at the High-A level this season, as the 21-year-old right-hander has dominated opposing hitters with his plus command of a three-pitch mix.
While he lacks a true plus offering, Binford’s impressive feel for pitching could have him pitching in Double-A by the All-Star break, thus setting him up for potential major league debut in late 2015 or 2016.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals
Giolito, 19, is simply too good to spend much time in the minor leagues, as he possesses arguably the highest ceiling among all pitching prospects to go along with the potential to make an immediate impact in the major leagues.
Unfortunately, at least for baseball fans, the right-hander is unlikely to join the Nationals until late 2015 at the earliest, as the organization has and will continue to dictate his workload like it has in the past with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Daniel Norris quietly has emerged as one the game’s better left-handed pitching prospects this year thanks to a mechanical adjustment he made late last season, as the 21-year-old is already on his second level this season after a promotion from High- to Double-A in mid-June.
Given his overwhelming success at both stops and the Blue Jays' chances of winning the AL East this season, it’s not crazy to think the Blue Jays might continue to challenge the left-hander over the remainder of the season while he’s hot. However, a debut at some point next season probably is more realistic.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
ETA: Um, today. Seriously.
With left-hander Jaime Garcia back on the disabled list, the Cardinals have decided to call up Gonzales (per Dan McLaughlin on Twitter), the No. 19 overall pick in the 2013 draft, from Double-A Springfield to start Wednesday at Colorado.
World Team: Pitchers
Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Julio Urias isn’t your average pitching prospect, so don’t expect the Dodgers to treat him as such. The 17-year-old left-hander, who’s currently holding his own in the High-A California League, is a safe bet to reach the major leagues as a teenager, with the only question being whether it happens when he’s 18 (2015) or 19 (2016).
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Berrios has nothing left to prove at High-A Fort Myers, though I’m sure the Twins have their reasons for keeping him at the level for as long as they have. The organization is known for slowly developing its better pitching prospects, as it tends to make sure the player receives the right amount of experience in the minor leagues before challenging him at the highest level.
That said, Berrios is potentially a special talent and could possibly jump on the fast track to the major leagues next season should the Twins emerge as playoff contenders.
Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
ETA: Late 2016
Severino, 20, has seen his stock take off this year thanks a dominant showing at Low-A Charleston to begin the season and now at High-A Tampa after a recent promotion. Though he’s undersized at 6’0”, 195 pounds, the right-hander’s impressive command of an electric three-pitch mix gives him undeniable impact potential at any level.
Severino could be ready to debut at some point next season if he continues to develop and move up the ladder at his current pace.
Francellis Montas, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Montas, a 6’2”, 185-pound right-hander, features a fastball in the upper 90s that eats up opposing hitters, and he’s developed a better feel for his curveball, slider and changeup since joining the White Sox’s organization.
Last season was Montas’ first with more than 100 innings pitched (111 to be exact), so expect the organization to make sure he has the proper amount of experience before turning him loose in the major leagues.
Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
ETA: Debuted with Rays in 2013
Even though Romero pitched well in a spot start for the Rays late last season, the 23-year-old left-hander is still more of a thrower than a pitcher, as he’ll struggle to repeat a consistent release point and in turn miss his spots both inside and outside the zone. He should return to majors at some point this season but not before he shows improved control and a more consistent third pitch.
Jorge Lopez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Lopez may be enjoying a breakout performance this season at High-A Brevard County, but the highly projectable right-hander is still somewhat of a project with a large gap between his present ability and overall potential. The Brewers aren’t known for rushing their pitching prospects, so don’t expect to see the 21-year-old in the major leagues before the 2017 season.
Tayron Guerrero, RHP, San Diego Padres
The only reliever to make a Futures Game roster, Guerrero, a 23-year-old right-hander, is only in his first full professional season, but his ability to consistently miss bats and induce weak contact could have him in the Padres’ big league bullpen by next season.
Domingo German, RHP, Miami Marlins
ETA: Late 2016
German, 21, finally is making his full-season debut this year after four strong seasons between the Rookie and Short Season levels, which makes it difficult to project his future timeline. However, the Marlins' recent history of challenging their better pitching prospects could lead to German moving up the organizational ladder and reaching the major leagues earlier than expected.
Edwin Escobar, LHP, San Francisco Giants
ETA: Late 2014
Escobar, a 22-year-old left-hander with a good command profile and the potential for three average-or-better offerings at maturity, hasn’t progressed this season as expected—which is easier said than done in the Pacific Coast League—but he’s still the Giants’ closest-to-the-majors pitching prospect and likely to get the call at some point during the second half of the season.
Alfonso Alcantara, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Currently making his full-season debut at Low-A Burlington, Alfonso Alcantara, 21, is the kind of raw, hard-throwing prospect who may take years to figure things out in the minor leagues, at least as a starter.
However, the Angels also could decide to expedite Alcantara’s upper-90s fastball to the major leagues by moving the right-hander to the bullpen. If that’s how it eventually goes down, then Alcantara could be ready to debut in late 2015/early 2016.