Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 19
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 (currently on the disabled list), Marcus Stroman, Jonathan Singleton, Gregory Polanco and Ken Giles have been seeing regular time for their respective clubs for quite some time now. Others, like Oscar Taveras, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman, have been shuttling up and down between the minors and majors for much of the year.
With the July 31 trade deadline now in the rearview mirror, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects after the wheeling and dealing opened up 25-man roster spots on teams that are selling and building for the future.
That's just what happened in Chicago, where the Cubs somewhat surprisingly brought up top infield prospect Javier Baez Tuesday, then watched him smack the game-winning home run in extra innings at Coors Field.
It was a busy week of prospect promotions overall, as the likes of James Paxton (Seattle Mariners), Kennys Vargas (Minnesota Twins), Mike Foltynewicz and Domingo Santana (Houston Astros), and Mookie Betts, Anthony Ranaudo and Heath Hembree (Boston Red Sox) all either made their big league debuts or came back up.
Meanwhile, contenders are finding ways to fit youngsters into the mix to help down the stretch. That's the story in Seattle, where the Mariners popped Chris Taylor in late July. The 23-year-old shortstop is getting a chance to prove he can be better than incumbent Brad Miller, who struggled all year in his first full season in the bigs.
Not every call-up works out right away, though, as was the case with the aforementioned Santana. A 21-year-old outfielder with the Astros, Santana went 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts in his initial four games back in early July and was promptly demoted. He worked on some things down in Triple-A, and he's back up—for now.
More young impact talent will join the mix too. 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 top prospect call-up report for Week 19 of the 2014 MLB season.
Others on the Cusp
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Alexander Guerrero, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jake Lamb, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kyle Parker, 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Robert Refsnyder, 2B/OF, New York Yankees
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 15-4, 2.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 135:50 K:BB (127.2 IP)
The Boston Red Sox traded, like, all of their starting pitchers by the end of July, and the club followed that up by promoting Henry Owens, the top pitching prospect in the system, to Triple-A. And then Owens went out and continued his fantastic season by not missing a beat on his way to hurling 6.2 scoreless innings while allowing just five baserunners and striking out nine in his first start on Aug. 4.
So the 6'6" lanky 22-year-old left-hander isn't all that far from joining the Red Sox, right? Well, yes...and no. Here's what general manager Ben Cherington said to Jen McCaffrey of Mass Live about Owens in particular while discussing the franchise's prospect pitching depth as a whole:
He just got to Triple-A, there’s some things that he’ll get out of pitching in Triple-A the rest of the way. They’re making a playoff push themselves so I think we’d like to see him finish out the year there and try to get in the playoffs.
There's no need to rush Owens through the system and jeopardize his development, even if he looks major-league ready.
Sure sounds like Owens is with Pawtucket the rest of the way. But, hey, if he pitches well there, maybe he makes a late-September cameo once the Triple-A season and postseason are over. Otherwise, expect a debut in the first half of 2015.
Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (Rookie/Double-/Triple-A): .369/.462/.769, 27 R, 29 XBH (11 HR), 40 RBI, 0 SB, 31:23 K:BB (156 PA)
In the wake of Javier Baez's surprise call-up and debut Tuesday, it's only natural to wonder if the Chicago Cubs will be bringing up any more of their hotshot prospects. And if so, who's next? Well, it says here that if the answer to the first part of the above is "yes," then the answer to the second part is Jorge Soler.
The 22-year-old Cuba native lost much of the first half of 2014 due to hamstring problems, but since making it back, he's playing as if he's trying to make up for all of that missed action. Soler tore through Double-A in 22 games (.415/.494/.862), and now he's dominating in his first taste of Triple-A (.286/.388/.690 in 14 games)—to the point where fellow stud youngster Kris Bryant must be starting to get jealous.
"He's just an unbelievable talent," Bryant said of Soler, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "We just have to keep him on the field. He's scary."
So, when might Soler be up? Well, the Cubs most likely want to see him continue to kill it at Iowa, so 2015 might be more realistic. But given that he's already on the 40-man roster because he signed a big league deal in June 2012, and given that Chicago recently traded outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and designated outfielder Nate Schierholtz for assignment, per Mark Gonzales of the Tribune, there's room for Soler to show up sooner.
Jacob Lindgren, LHP, New York Yankees
2014 Stats (Rookie/A-/High-/Double-A): 1-0, 0.68 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 30:4 K:BB (13.1 IP)
Almost exactly two months to the day of his being the New York Yankees' top draft pick, Jacob Lindgren was promoted to Double-A Tuesday. Already at his fourth minor league level of the season, Lindgren struck out the side in his first appearance, Teddy Cahill of MLB.com points out.
The 21-year-old was expected to be a rapid riser when he was selected in the second round this past June out of Mississippi State as a polished lefty with a wipeout slider that could get big league hitters out right now.
As Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York wrote after the Yankees took Lindgren:
Considering the Yankees' need for a quality left-handed arm out of their bullpen—Matt Thornton has struggled this season as their “lefty specialist"—some observers have said Lindgren could make it to the major leagues by next year, or perhaps even later this season.
With the club's bullpen having to work so hard after all the injuries to the rotation—not to mention, the trade of fellow lefty Matt Thornton to the Washington Nationals Tuesday—Lindgren could come up in the near future to provide a boost, especially if the Yankees are still in the playoff hunt.
Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): .307/.368/.421, 46 R, 27 XBH (5 HR), 39 RBI, 20 SB, 58:36 K:BB (427 PA)
With Gordon Beckham once again slogging through a lost season (.224/.269/.353), it's clear that he's no longer the future at second base on the South Side. Micah Johnson, however, is.
The 23-year-old speedster topped the minors last year with 84 stolen bases while playing at three different levels. Johnson started 2014 back at Double-A and got a quick promotion to Triple-A after hitting .329 over 37 games.
His numbers have dropped a tad at Charlotte (.293/.337/.392) and he isn't running nearly as much this season, but he's not far off, thanks to his solid plate discipline (36 walks and just 58 strikeouts).
"I matured last year and understood my game is getting on base and running when I can," Johnson told Mark Ambrogi of The Indianapolis Star. "The sooner I realized that, the better I got. That's when my approach to the game really took off."
Johnson also had an impressive month of July, triple-slashing .347/.394/.474 with five steals. More of that from Johnson, and pretty soon there'll be less of Beckham in Chicago.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 8-5, 3.26 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 105:22 K:BB (99.1 IP)
Andrew Heaney's first four starts in the majors were less than good (6.53 ERA), but let's cut the lefty, all of 23 years old, some slack.
Since being demoted in early July, Heaney's performance has been up and down, as he's surrendered 15 earned runs in 22.2 innings over five turns.
Thing is, Henderson Alvarez recently hit the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, and the Miami Marlins just designated Jacob Turner for assignment, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. While fellow lefty Brian Flynn was recalled to help cover some innings, Heaney could put himself back on the map with one good start.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): .270/.343/383., 61 R, 25 XBH (8 HR), 53 RBI, 27 SB, 77:45 K:BB (452 PA)
After getting promoted to Triple-A the last week of July, Francisco Lindor hasn't been very hot while embarking on his tenure at Columbus. The switch-hitter is just 13-for-58 (.224) with an uncharacteristic 16 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances.
Lindor, however, already has reached the minors' highest level at the tender age of 20, and he has scored 10 runs and hit a pair of homers in his initial 14 games.
Plus, the Cleveland Indians traded incumbent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals, thus putting a big ol' carrot in front of Lindor, who is a plus defender—something this team needs, especially at a key up-the-middle infield spot. It's not like Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez are obstacles.
If Lindor can show some consistency over the next couple of weeks, there's a chance the Indians could decide it's time to turn their shortstop of the future into their shortstop of the present, even before rosters expand in September.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 6-4, 3.05 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 128:55 K:BB (112.0 IP)
You'll read more about how bad the Minnesota Twins' pitching has been in a bit, but let's just focus on how good Alex Meyer has been here.
The 6'9" 24-year-old has given up all of eight runs across his last seven starts, registering more than twice as many strikeouts (45) as hits allowed (22) in those 40.2 innings.
As a 2011 draftee, Meyer has to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason to be protected from the Rule 5 draft anyway, so Minnesota could just get that over with sooner than later—and then go one more step by putting Meyer on the 25-man to see what he can do against big leaguers.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .300/.427/.559, 76 R, 42 XBH (24 HR), 58 RBI, 25 SB, 125:78 K:BB (446 PA)
Apparently, Joc Pederson is taking it pretty tough that the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't do anything in terms of moving an outfielder—or even Pederson—by the trade deadline. Since July 31, the 22-year-old has gone into a 1-for-24 slump.
In reality, however, Pederson is sticking this high on the call-up radar because the club could decide at any point to bring him up to man center field, which has been held down lately by regular right fielder Yasiel Puig. While Puig has the speed and athleticism for the position, the Dodgers can't have him doing things like this.
Yes, Matt Kemp has been playing better too, but Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke remain merely semi-regulars. Meanwhile, there's nothing more Pederson can do. He's destroyed Triple-A pitching. He's hitting for average and power and stealing bases. He's playing good defense.
In fact, manager Don Mattingly, speaking on ESPN LA Now recently, called Pederson "probably the best center fielder in our organization."
Even though there isn't a clear spot for Pederson at the moment, he's ready whenever the Dodgers want to give him a try.
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 8-6, 2.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 91:37 K:BB (95.1 IP)
The Minnesota Twins rotation got ever so slightly more stable over the past week, what with the strong return by Kyle Gibson after he missed a start and the acquisition of lefty Tommy Milone from the Oakland Athletics.
Still, the club's five-man is one of the worst in baseball yet again, with a 4.93 ERA that is the third-worst around.
Given how well Trevor May has pitched all year—including a 2.41 ERA in four starts since coming back from calf injury that cost him a month—and that he's already on the 40-man roster, the 24-year-old could be be up "within the next turn or two through the rotation," as Nick Nelson of the Star Tribune writes.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 12-4, 2.41 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 99:49 K:BB (119.1 IP)
After winning his MLB debut by hurling 6.0 innings of two-run ball against the New York Yankees Aug. 1, Anthony Ranaudo was sent back down to Pawtucket. It shouldn't be long before he's back in the bigs, though.
The 24-year-old wasn't exactly dominant while allowing four hits and four walks with only two strikeouts, but he did show good stuff, as Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wrote: "In his first test, Ranaudo beat a solid Yankees lineup, showing good command of his fastball, which sat around 92-93 miles per hour with a high of 94."
Besides, with all the starting pitchers the Boston Red Sox have unloaded recently—Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront—they're going to need arms to fill out the rotation. For now, fellow young right-handers Brandon Workman and Allen Webster are sticking around, but if either has a tough turn, expect Ranaudo to get another shot in short order.
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