MLB Prospect Profiles: Who Will Follow Stephen Strasburg to the Show?
Stephen Strasburg has lived up to the hype in Washington through his first two starts, but don’t forget about some of the other young stars who have gotten their first taste of the Major Leagues in 2010.
Jason Heyward dazzled the Braves out of spring training to earn his spot on the Opening Day roster and Ike Davis has filled in for the Mets' injured Daniel Murphy admirably since getting called up.
Mike Leake, Buster Posey, and Mike Stanton also arrived in the Bigs with much fanfare, and all look set to have promising careers full of seven-figure contracts and awards.
But who’s next? There are still dozens of talented players down on the farm just waiting for their chance to shine on the biggest stage of all. For some, they might impress so much that the organization can’t hold them back any longer. For others, the big club might want to see how they fare under the most intense media scrutiny and expectations of 30,000 screaming fans. It may even come down to an injury for an everyday starter.
Here are the next 10 prospects to keep an eye on who I believe will be called up by Sept. 1.
Tampa Bay have some arms in their rotation right now, but Hellickson is putting them all on notice that he is gunning for his chance in the Show.
The 23-year-old was picked in the fourth round of the ’05 draft, and he has looked fantastic wherever he has pitched. He won 13 games in A-Level ball in 2007 and 11 games at high-A and double-A the following year. He went 9-2 last season, including 6-1 for the triple-A Durham Bulls where he posted a 2.51 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP, and every indication is that his arrival is imminent.
In MLB’s Top 50 Prospects report, they said Hellickson allowed just four hits and two walks in his last 15 innings of 2009, and then followed that with 18 Ks in two International League playoff contests and five scoreless innings in the Triple-A National Championship Game.
When you put it all together, his last five starts posted a line of 32.1 IP, 4R, 6 BB, and 39 Ks.
Wallace is now with his third club in less than 12 months, and after Oakland traded him away from his native California, the 23-year-old is now playing his trade in Toronto’s triple-A system.
He got almost 450 at-bats at this level between Memphis and Sacramento in ’09, and the power he showed has already replicated itself this season in the form of 11 home runs in 62 games.
His swing isn’t the prettiest you’ll ever see and he still has some pretty big holes in his hitting zone, but he could develop into a great player with just a few adjustments.
He strikes out at an alarming rate considering the number of walks he draws, but if he can maintain this type of raw power while inching his batting average back towards the .300 mark, he should be getting a taste of the Majors before the end of the summer.
Wallace would have been one of the steals of the 2005 draft, had he signed with the Blue Jays in the 42nd round. But a first-round selection three years later in 2008 seems to justify his decision.
Parker was a first-round draft pick for the D'Backs in 2007 as well as the highest-selected high school pitcher.
Essentially a project arm, Parker hasn't yet made it to triple-A, but he is still only 20 years old, and there is a chance that he could get some innings out of the bullpen before the year is through. He is probably more useful in a starting role in the long term, but if Arizona decides to promote him out of Mobile and wants to see how he fares against Major League hitters this August, expect to hear him make some noise.
He's a ground ball pitcher with good control, but don't let his small frame fool you. He may only weigh 180 pounds soaking wet, but he's got two plus pitches—he could be on a fast track to success.
After spending most of 2009 playing for the double-A Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League, Morrison jumped straight from high-A to triple-A this year where he continues to hit well.
He's posted a line of .319/.416/.543 through 32 games for New Orleans in 2010 and he does have some power in that long swing despite just three home runs so far. He hit 24 homers in 2007 at A-Level but don't expect him to ever reach that number in the bigs. Something closer to a dozen is a pretty realistic target though once he gets his shot. He's only 22 right now and he could be a fixture for the Marlins for years to come.
He's an outfielder with a rifle for an arm, but he has seen time at first base. The Scouting Book attributes it to "his lack of glovely finesse and some limited mobility." Morrison is ranked anywhere from No. 18 on the rookie prospect chart (Baseball America) to No. 50 (Baseball Prospectus) but he could climb closer to the top 10 with a mid-summer call-up.
Ackley was drafted as the second overall pick of the 2009 draft behind some kid called Stephen Strasburg. Apparently he's going to be pretty big. Ackley has some potential, too.
The second baseman is playing double-A ball right now, and it's going to be interesting to see what the Mariners do with their prized prospect over the next few months.
He has good speed and a decent eye, but he will need to develop his power stroke and get a better feel for the strike zone if he is to get a call up in 2010. His .398 on-base percentage is encouraging, but his inexperience and lack of production could hold him back another year.
ESPN rates him as one of this year's top 10 prospects, while almost every other major scouting organization agrees he is a top 15 rookie to watch. He can play virtually anywhere in the field from the outfield to anywhere in the infield.
The Mariners have a pretty stacked class of outfielders already in the minors, so expect them to continue grooming his as a top-of-the-order middle infielder.
Taylor was arguably a top-30 prospect coming into the season and he's done absolutely nothing to spike his value.
The massive outfielder, at 6'6" and a hefty 260 pounds, was drafted by the Phillies three years ago but traded to Oakland heading into this season.
He has looked good at every level he's played and the 24-year-old masher is getting his first full look at triple-A pitching after playing in 30 games for Lehigh Valley in 2009.
Taylor hit 19 home runs while batting .346 in 2008 and 20 homers and a .320 average last season. He has struggled slightly in the Pacific Coast League with the Sacramento River Cats—Oakland's triple-A affiliate—but his power is legit, his arm is strong, and he even has the ability to swipe a base or leg out a three-bagger on a ball through the gap.
Gabe Gross turns 31 this year and Eric Patterson, while still young, is struggling to put bat on ball in 2010. It's not too much to think Taylor will be taking his spot in the outfield soon.
Jennings has shown elite contact and speed to burn in the minors, and there's no reason to think he won't be called up by the end of August.
His stock went down two years ago when he was only able to play 24 games, but he responded with a fantastic 2009 season which saw him steal 52 bags and hit 11 home runs. He hit .318 between double and triple-A, and more impressive than his 52 swipes was the seven times he was caught.
Jennings has stolen 14 bases in 15 attempts so far this year in 41 games for Durham, and if he continues to do well then comparisons with Carl Crawford might not be too far fetched.
Alvarez is tearing up triple-A pitching this season after lighting up double-A in the second half of '09. He batted .333 for Altoona once he got called up from low A-ball in the second half of last year and he already has 13 home runs and 52 RBI in 64 games for the Pirates' AAA team in the International League.
Alvarez turned 23 this offseason and there is no doubt that he'll be big-league ready by 2011. The question is whether Pittsburgh wants to get the southpaw's power bat in the lineup this season.
It's not like Andy LaRoche is tearing it up in 2010, so it's only a matter of time before he makes is impact in the Majors. Expect it to happen sooner rather than later.
The ball flies out of the Cuban defector's left hand much faster than you would expect for a young kid his size.
His fastball explodes at 100 MPH and while Cincinnati isn't a big-market team, that will probably help when he finally makes the big club. His inexperience at the Minor League level is an obvious concern right now, and while the Reds have decided to bypass low-A ball in favour of triple-A, it's not as if he is a true rookie.
Everything about Chapman says he should be predictable. A left-hander who throws this hard and has this much upside must be pretty special, right?
70 strikeouts and a complete game in 59 innings highlights how overpowering he can be, but he is actually pretty hittable, too. A lot of base hits and a pretty erratic delivery—as a thrower rather than a pitcher—could lead to problems down the road, but right now the future is pretty bright.