Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 15
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.
Highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, C.J. Cron, Marcus Stroman, Jonathan Singleton and Gregory Polanco have been starting for their respective clubs for quite some time now. Others like Oscar Taveras, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman (no longer prospect eligible) have been shuttling up and down between the minors and majors.
With less than a month to go until the trade deadline, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects once the wheeling and dealing opens up 25-man roster spots. That's just what's starting to happen with the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, who announced Wednesday they've brought up infield/outfield prospect Arismendy Alcantara.
Also on Wednesday the Boston Red Sox decided to designate veteran backstop A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. They'll be turning the job over to prospect Christian Vazquez, a stellar defensive catcher who can handle the bat.
As we saw with Andrew Heaney of the Miami Marlins and Domingo Santana of the Houston Astros, not every call-up works out right away. Heaney, a 23-year-old left-hander, went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in his first four big league starts. Meanwhile Santana, a 21-year-old outfielder, went 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts in his initial four games. Both received return tickets to Triple-A to work on some things.
Regardless, they could be back in the bigs soon enough and more impact young talent will 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.
- 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 15 of the 2014 MLB season.
Others on the Cusp
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Robert Refsnyder, 2B, New York Yankees
Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners
Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Alex Colome, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (High/Double-A): .260/.357/.370, 7 R, 5 XBH (1 HR), 9 RBI, 4 SB, 18:10 K:BB (84 PA)
Addison Russell is a consensus top-10 prospect in all of baseball, but any possibility that we might've seen him get a September shot as the Oakland Athletics make another push to win the AL West went out the window with his trade to the Chicago Cubs.
Starting out at Double-A as a 20-year-old was an aggressive assignment, but Russell lost two months of development to a torn hamstring. The A's might have had ambitions of bringing him up late in the season to be exposed to pennant-race baseball, provided he was healthy and playing well. The Cubs will just be happy if Russell stays healthy the rest of the way.
"It's been a crazy year so far, and it hasn't even been a full season," Russell told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "It's just all finally settling down now."
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats (Rookie/Double/Triple-A): 1-4, 3.95 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 33:22 K:BB (41.0 IP)
The Arizona Diamondbacks, fresh off losing Bronson Arroyo to Tommy John surgery and trading right-hander Brandon McCarthy to the New York Yankees for lefty Vidal Nuno, have stretched their rotation about as thin as it can go. Plus, they could stay active between now and July 31, as general manager Kevin Towers indicated, which might bring even more changes.
That could mean Archie Bradley, the club's top prospect who would have debuted by now had he not missed two months with an elbow injury, gets a start or three in Arizona as the season winds down. Maybe. After all, there's no real motivation on Arizona's part to push Bradley, 21, before he's ready. His first big league pitch ultimately might come in 2015.
Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .234/.287/.368, 37 R, 30 XBH (6 HR), 40 RBI, 1 SB, 55:24 K:BB (362 PA)
As great as the 2013 campaign was for Maikel Franco, the 2014 one has been equally disappointing. The 21-year-old started off slowly and has only a few very brief stretches over which he's been hot.
Luckily, one of those is happening right now, as Franco has gone 15-for-32 (.469) with five doubles, two triples and a homer in his past seven games. That's coming at a time when Ruben Amaro Jr., the general manager of the floundering Philadelphia Phillies, is looking to make some changes, as he indicated recently.
"He's swinging the bat well," Amaro said about Franco, via Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Hey, listen, I'm looking for people who can swing the bat. Because we're not doing it here. If he gets to the point where he starts swinging the bat consistently, he's a guy who could be in play, too."
If that happens, the logical way to deploy Franco in Philly would be to use his righty bat as a platoon partner for Ryan Howard and Cody Asche, both of whom hit from the left side, because Franco can play both first and third base.
Alexander Guerrero, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .376/.417/.735, 20 R, 19 XBH (10 HR), 29 RBI, 1 SB, 18:6 K:BB (127 PA)
You already know all too much about that ugly incident in which former minor league teammate Miguel Olivo bit off part of Alexander Guerrero's ear back in May. What you might not know, however, is that the Cuba native is getting back into playing form at the Los Angeles Dodgers' training facility in Phoenix, according to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
The Dodgers are in need of depth in the infield, particularly on the left side, where shortstop Hanley Ramirez and third baseman Juan Uribe have had trouble staying healthy at times. And backups Justin Turner and Erisbel Arruebarrena are on the disabled list, too.
If Guerrero, 27, can return to games and get his rhythm back soon, he could be up to aid the club's drive for a second straight NL West crown.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 9-4, 2.66 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 87:43 K:BB (101.2 IP)
The Boston Red Sox are in last place in the AL East—and a state of flux. As mentioned in the intro, Christian Vazquez is now the catcher with A.J. Pierzynski having been DFA'd, and there are rumors that right-hander Jake Peavy could be traded (perhaps to the St. Louis Cardinals), according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.
Such a move would open up another spot in a rotation that recently brought back Rubby De La Rosa. Brandon Workman likely is next in line, but it seems a good chance that Boston will give some run to its deep pool of young pitching talent, especially now that any hopes of competing this season are just about over.
Unlike Matt Barnes, another former first-round pick by the Red Sox, Anthony Ranaudo is on the 40-man roster, making his chances of getting a look a bit higher. Of course, this spot could just as easily go to Allen Webster, a fellow right-hander who already has limited MLB experience from 2013. The 24-year-old Ranaudo, though, has pitched really well at Pawtucket and is big league ready at this point.
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)
A separated shoulder kept Joc Pederson out of action for a little more than two weeks, but he's been activated from the minor league disabled list, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, and hit a triple in his first at-bat back on July 9.
That's good timing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, what with the trade deadline approaching. If the club is active over the next few weeks, the 22-year-old Pederson is likely to get a clearer path to playing time in Hollywood—or find himself on a new team that doesn't have quite the Dodgers' outfield depth.
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 0-0, 6.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 5:2 K:BB (3.0 IP)
Taijuan Walker looked good if a little shaky in his first two starts with the Seattle Mariners since recovering from shoulder problems, but he was sent back to Triple-A Wednesday. Don't worry: The move was more about ensuring the right-hander gets regular work during the All-Star break than anything else.
While Walker is sure to be back at the start of the second half, he may soon be joined in Seattle by left-hander James Paxton. The 25-year-old, who made two strong starts with the M's in April before a lat injury cut him down, threw a two-inning simulated game Tuesday. Paxton told Greg Johns of MLB.com that he came away in good shape:
I feel like I'm right where I should be, or better right now. My cutter was coming out really well. I was throwing it for strikes and my curveball as well. My changeup, I was getting in the dirt a little bit, but I'd rather be in the dirt right now than leaving it up. Another sim game and some rehab starts and I should be able to fine tune things and be ready to go.
Because Paxton suffered a setback during his initial rehab assignment in May, the Mariners will be cautious here. But they could have him back by the end of July if everything goes well.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 5-4, 3.43 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 103:43 K:BB (89.1 IP)
On one hand, the Minnesota Twins are out of the race, so there's no need for Alex Meyer to make his debut. On the other hand? Well, the club's rotation is once again terrible—the 4.84 ERA by the team's starters is third-worst in MLB—and "prized" offseason acquisition Ricky Nolasco and his 5.90 ERA just hit the DL.
That leaves a foursome of Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Kevin Correia and Yohan Pino at the moment. In other words, Meyer, a 24-year-old who has allowed just four runs on only 10 hits to go with 20 strikeouts in his past 18.0 innings at Rochester, just might be the club's best starting pitcher if he gets called up.
A recent addition to the U.S. Team's roster for the Futures Game, which will be held at Target Field in Minnesota on Sunday, July 13, Meyer could find himself back in the Twin Cities soon thereafter.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 10-2, 1.46 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 114:32 K:BB (111.0 IP)
As much as we've been waiting for Marco Estrada to allow that last-straw home run to provide Jimmy Nelson with another opportunity to join the Milwaukee Brewers, there's also now concern over the recent struggles of Wily Peralta, culminating in his nine-run loss against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 8.
Between Estrada, who has given up an MLB-high 27 homers, and Peralta, who's in only his second full big league season, something has to give to get Nelson up. In the meantime, the 25-year-old will continue to work on his 21.2-inning scoreless streak.
Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 10-5, 3.59 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 97:23 K:BB (102.2 IP)
When a major league team trades two starting pitchers in one fell swoop, as the Chicago Cubs did on July 4 by dealing Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics, opportunity arises. That's just what's happening for Kyle Hendricks, who is set to make his major league debut Thursday, according to Manny Randhawa of MLB.com.
The 24-year-old profiles as a back-of-the rotation arm who can eat innings by limiting damage, as his career 0.4 homers-per-nine and 1.6 walks-per-nine ratios indicate. For a Cubs club that's teeming with position player prospects, it's time to see what one of their young arms can do.
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