Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 14
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 less than a month to go until the trade deadline, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects, especially once all the wheeling and dealing starts opening up 25-man roster spots.
Highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, Gregory Polanco and Jonathan Singleton have been starting for their respective clubs for quite some time now.
And over the past week or so, Oscar Taveras, Mookie Betts and Domingo Santana, a trio of top outfielders with the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, respectively, were called up. While Betts debuted on June 29 and Santana's first game was July 1, this is Taveras' second stint after he first got the call at the very end of May.
Meanwhile, Seattle Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker, who had been battling shoulder trouble since spring training, made his return to the majors on Monday and earned a victory.
In other prospect transaction action, Atlanta Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt, as well as Nick Ahmed and Christian Colon, a pair of infielders with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals, all made it to The Show, too.
More impact young talents will continue to join the mix. Who will be the next to reach the major leagues? In order to predict estimated times of arrival this season, we've classified the prospects on this list using the following color-coded 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 14 of the 2014 MLB season.
Others on the Cusp
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs
Kyle Parker, 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
Alexander Guerrero, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats (Double-A): 7-3, 3.76 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 73:22 K:BB (79.0 IP)
The Colorado Rockies have been ravaged by injuries over the past several weeks, and their rotation has been hit hardest. Fact is, only Jorge De La Rosa remains from the expected five-man rotation, as Brett Anderson, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Chatwood and now Jhoulys Chacin have hit the disabled list. Heck, even the fill-in arms like rookies Christian Bergman and Eddie Butler, one of their top prospects, have suffered injuries.
And still, it's unlikely that Jon Gray, last year's No. 3 overall selection, will be up any time soon. The 22-year-old has had a strong first full pro season, but with the Rockies having dropped completely out of the playoff race—they're now just 36-49 after going 8-20 in June—there's simply no reason to add him to the 40-man roster and rush the hard-throwing right-hander to the majors before he's absolutely ready.
That's likely to be some time in 2015—not 2014.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 6-4, 5.70 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 74:23 K:BB (72.2 IP)
News came out this week, via Roger Rubin and Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, that Noah Syndergaard might not make his big league debut in 2014 after all. "There's a possibility we might not see him," manager Terry Collins said.
That's a far cry from how this season was supposed to go for Syndergaard, 21, who was the top prospect in the New York Mets' system—and one of the best in baseball—entering the season. A mid-June debut was the goal, until the 6'6" right-hander missed time with right elbow soreness and then injured his left shoulder in a collision immediately upon his return. Plus, his performance hasn't been helped by pitching in the hitter-friendly PCL and at the bandbox that is his home park in Las Vegas.
A late-season promotion isn't out of the question, but seeing Syndergaard before September now seems unlikely, and even that would depend on whether he can turn himself around over the next month or so.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
2014 Stats (Double-A): .280/.360/.404, 47 R, 19 XBH (6 HR), 43 RBI, 19 SB, 51:36 K:BB (323 PA)
Francisco Lindor's drive toward the majors hit a speed bump when he suffered a non-displaced nasal fracture after a grounder took a wicked hop and hit him directly in the nose on June 25, per Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. You can see the video of the play at that link.
Although he returned Wednesday, the injury cost the 20-year-old a week of action at a time when his shortstop-of-the-future title soon could turn into "of-the-present." It also might give the Cleveland Indians some pause about moving him too quickly. That said, if they intend to trade shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera—a free agent at year's end—this month, Lindor still could be up early in the second half.
Robert Refsnyder, 2B, New York Yankees
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): .342/.408/.549, 52 R, 39 XBH (9 HR), 39 RBI, 7 SB, 56:31 K:BB (338 PA)
It's pretty obvious that the New York Yankees could shake things up one way or another this month, whether via a trade or two or a promotion from within the organization. The club has plenty of question marks, but the infield has been a particular problem spot, what with the injuries, age and performance of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Kelly Johnson, Yangervis Solarte and Brian Roberts.
If the Yankees want to make an internal move to try for a spark, then there's a good chance they could call on Robert Refsnyder for a look at second base, where Roberts is both aging (36) and injury-prone. Perhaps the 23-year-old Refsnyder, a righty hitter, could form a platoon with Roberts, a switch-hitter who's better from the left side, as a way to keep the veteran fresher and get more production from the position.
An outfielder in college who has converted to second after going in the fifth round in 2012, Refsnyder has been hot all season and was promoted to Triple-A in mid-June. In fact, his batting average has been exactly the same (.342) at both Trenton (60 games) and Scranton Wilkes-Barre (23).
General manager Brian Cashman has noticed, too, recently telling Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that Refsnyder is "rising like a meteor."
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .319/.437/.568, 58 R, 31 XBH (17 HR), 42 RBI, 20 SB, 95:57 K:BB (332 PA)
Arguably the Los Angeles Dodgers' top prospect, Joc Pederson hasn't played since June 24 because of a separated right shoulder, the result of diving for a ball in the outfield, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes.
The injury, which isn't considered serious, initially was expected to keep the 22-year-old out for at least 10 games. Provided that's about the extent of things, Pederson still could make his big league debut in the second half one way or another: either if the Dodgers manage to trade away one of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford, or if they wind up dealing Pederson to a team that would call him up.
Alex Colome, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Stats (High-/Triple-A): 4-2, 2.74 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 43:15 K:BB (46.0 IP)
Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays have played much better of late, having won seven of their last eight games and pushing the Boston Red Sox for fourth place in the winnable AL East. But it's still more likely than not that they'll be sellers in July given how much misfortune the club has endured this year.
Former Cy Young winner David Price is the most coveted player on the trade market, and if he is actually traded over the next few weeks, the Rays will need a new arm in their rotation. That very well might be Alex Colome, a 25-year-old who's been pitching well at Triple-A since coming back from a 50-game suspension at the outset of the season for a performance-enhancing drug.
Colome already has some limited big league experience, including last week's spot start in which he beat the Baltimore Orioles with 5.2 innings of two-hit, one-run ball.
Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .322/.393/.520, 46 R, 29 XBH (5 HR), 30 RBI, 11 SB, 54:27 K:BB (262 PA)
It's amazing the Seattle Mariners haven't suffered more for having received the least production at shortstop in the American League. In fact, their .598 OPS from the position, which comes almost entirely from second-year man Brad Miller, is dead last in the Junior Circuit.
And yet, the M's have been hot of late, having won four straight and eight of 10, keeping them in a tight battle with their AL West rival, the Los Angeles Angels, for the top seed in the wild-card race.
In some warped way, the club might see this as a don't-fix-what-ain't-broke situation, especially since Miller had a productive June (.298/.355/.512). But it can't hurt to have a little insurance in case Miller goes in the tank again, and Chris Taylor might make sense as a possible platoon mate, considering they swing from opposite sides.
With the 23-year-old hitting well over his past 10 games (13-for-41, .317 BA with 12 R), Taylor can't be that far off.
Christian Vazquez, C, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .275/.331/.384, 34 R, 19 XBH (3 HR), 19 RBI, 0 SB, 48:19 K:BB (253 PA)
Speaking of a team getting little out of a particular position, the Boston Red Sox rank third worst among all teams in on-base percentage at catcher. So much for that offseason signing of A.J. Pierzynski, eh?
While the veteran backstop struggles through what looks to be his worst-ever season at age 37, the club may turn to defensive whiz Christian Vazquez this summer, reports Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal.
"I think people sell [Vazquez's] bat short because the defense is that good," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said of his catcher with the quick release and bit-time arm (see video above). The 23-year-old also has picked it up on offense, hitting .296 with a .363 OBP and all three of his homers since June 1.
Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 1-2, 4.05 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 38:10 K:BB (33.1 IP)
Although Sergio Romo's demotion from the closer gig likely is a temporary one, it still leaves the San Francisco Giants bullpen in a bit of a state of flux.
The club has plenty of other late-inning options to turn to, including right-handers Santiago Casilla and Jean Machi, as well as lefty Jeremy Affeldt. But Heath Hembree could be added to the mix for depth while Romo tries to right himself.
The 25-year-old hasn't thrown especially well lately, allowing eight hits and five runs in his past six appearances, but he also has a tidy nine-to-one strikeout-to-walk rate in that time. Plus, Hembree has major league experience, having pitched with the Giants last September.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 10-2, 1.56 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 110:30 K:BB (104.0 IP)
Even though Marco Estrada has pitched better recently, the light is staying green for Jimmy Nelson because of how well the Milwaukee Brewers' top prospect continues to throw.
The 25-year-old hurled 6.2 more shutout frames Wednesday, bringing his streak of scoreless innings to 14.0 and earning him his third straight win, as Teddy Cahill of MLB.com notes.
Estrada, meanwhile, has made two consecutive quality starts for the first time since his fifth and six turns back on April 26 and May 1. The Brew Crew may not need any immediate rotation alterations while they're in first by 5.5 games in the NL Central—that's the largest lead in baseball—but Nelson is ready. And he has been for some time.
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