Stock Up, Stock Down for MLB's Top 10 Prospects at the Midway Point
We are at the midway point of the minor league season, which generally means two things—the respective leagues are getting ready to hold their All-Star games, and promotions for some of the top performers have begun.
Some of the big league clubs have already started to make some call-ups. Some are players who are considered top prospects, like Gregory Polanco with the Pittsburgh Pirates, while others are just solid ballplayers, like Joe Panik with the San Francisco Giants.
Whether or not many of the top 10 prospects get called up this season has yet to be seen, but regardless of when they do get called up, they should provide their big league club with an added spark.
Without further ado, here is how the MLB’s top 10 prospects are doing at the midway point.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Oscar Taveras was called up to the show in late May, but his stay was short-lived, as he was sent back down to Triple-A about two weeks later. However, it’s only a matter of time before he is up with the Cardinals for good.
Taveras has beat up on minor league pitching this season. He is sporting a .318/.370/.502 slash line in Memphis, and over his past 10 games, he has a .282/.333/.359 slash line, including a four-hit performance on June 26.
Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Archie Bradley is finally making some rehab starts after being sidelined with an elbow injury for the majority of 2014. According to Barry Lewis of Tulsa World, Bradley’s fastball was sitting between 92-96 mph in his first rehab start for Double-A Mobile, which is normal for him.
The slightly alarming statistic was that he allowed four walks over four innings in that game.
If not for the injury, he would probably be with the Diamondbacks by now. However, it shouldn’t be much longer for Bradley, who many consider to be one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners
In his most recent start for Triple-A Tacoma, Taijuan Walker pitched a complete-game shutout for the second time in his career. This game came on the heels of his previous start in which he allowed six earned runs over five innings pitched.
Walker only allowed one walk and four hits while striking out eight in his 109-pitch masterpiece. The call-up watch has already started, and it's only a matter of time before he joins the Mariners.
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
It’s been a bit of a disappointing season for Baez in 2014, but there is no doubting his ability. A testament to this notion was the fact that he was recently named to the Futures Game—a distinction generally reserved for the creme de la creme of baseball prospects.
Baez’s bat is starting to show signs of life. Over the past 10 games, he has a .333/.395/.410 slash line. One of the positive signs from Baez this season has been the amount of success he has had against right-handed pitching—his slash against righties is .238/.303/.434 versus .232/.260/.420 against lefties.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
Carlos Correa will be joining Baez and representing the Houston Astros on the 2014 Futures Game roster (which he will miss due to a fractured fibula).
Correa continued to put up outstanding numbers down in Lancaster. Over his past 10 games, he has a .310/.420/.548 slash line. At only 19 years old, the numbers he is putting up against older players in advanced A-ball has been very impressive.
In addition to some impressive hitting, he also has 20 stolen bases on the year.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant is making minced meat of minor league pitching. He was recently named as one of the Chicago Cubs' two prospects to represent the club at the Futures Game, and for good reason.
Bryant was shredding Double-A pitching, hammering 22 home runs on his way to posting a ridiculous .355/.458/.702 slash line. The Cubs basically had no choice but to promote the slugger to Triple-A Iowa.
Since being called up to Iowa, Bryant hasn’t skipped a beat. His OPS is a stellar 1.243, and he has smoked five homers in his first nine games in Triple-A. That gives Bryant a combined 27 home runs between Double- and Triple-A, and we are only at the midway point of the season.
Stock: On Fire
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Francisco Lindor will represent the Cleveland Indians in this year’s Futures Game. The slick-fielding shortstop is having a very solid season for Double-A Akron.
Halfway through the season, Lindor is sporting a .283/.362/.409 slash line to go along with 19 stolen bases. What makes those numbers even more impressive is the fact that the Eastern League is not known for its outstanding offensive production.
Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets
Syndergaard was recently placed on the seven-day disabled list after a collision at home plate caused a little bit of a scare for the Mets’ top prospect. Since he’s returned from the disabled list, things haven’t gotten much better for the big righty affectionately known as “Thor” by his teammates.
It’s looking less and less likely that Mets fans will see Syndergaard at Citi Field anytime soon. Hitters have simply been teeing off on Syndergaard at Triple-A, and it’s not because the PCL is a hitter’s league.
Syndergaard has been able to blow his fastball by hitters at the lower levels of the minor leagues, but against the more advanced hitters in Triple-A (many of which have had stints in the majors), he hasn’t been able to do that. His fastball is flat with minimal movement, which doesn’t help his cause.
Regardless, Syndergaard’s future is still bright. He will represent the Mets in the 2014 Futures Game along with his fellow teammate, Kevin Plawecki. However, Syndergaard may want to consider adding or using a two-seam fastball a little more in the future, as this will keep hitters off balance when facing him.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
Russell hasn’t had much playing time in 2014 due to a hamstring ailment, but he finally got on the field in June and is heating up.
He has spent all of June with Double-A Midland, and he has been putting up solid numbers since his return. In his last nine games, he has a .294/.385/.500 slash line.
Stock: Heating Up
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Gregory Polanco is very close to being removed from any top prospect lists as he approaches 130 major league at-bats, which will disqualify him from prospect status. But for now, he’s on this list, and after destroying Triple-A pitching, the Pirates had to bring up Polanco to see what he could do against major league pitching.
The adjustment to the major leagues is generally a tough one for most young players getting called up—the bright lights and big crowds can be overwhelming. Polanco is one of the few who hit the ground running—literally. He blasted onto the scene with an 11-game hitting streak.
In 18 games for the Pirates, he is showing an incredible amount of poise and has not looked overmatched against big league pitching. Polanco may be in the major leagues to stay, as the Pirates are now trying to work out a long-term deal to lock up the five-tool talent. However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the two sides are still far apart.