2011 MLB Predictions: Each Team's Prospect Who Will Reach the Majors First
With every team in Major League Baseball now about 30 games into their season, there has already been some roster surprises and injuries which have facilitated the call-ups of some young prospects.
Just this past Saturday, the Cleveland Indians, on the heels of the Carlos Carrasco elbow injury, called up 22-year-old Alex White to make his major league debut. The young man did nothing to warrant displeasure from Cleveland fans, throwing six strong innings and giving up just two runs.
The Los Angeles Angels have also gone to the minors to pluck prospects, with 21-year-old Tyler Chatwood and 22-year-old Alexi Amarista. In both cases, the upside was evident as well.
So, with the first month of the season in the books, and many teams looking at what could be very long seasons, there will be ample opportunity to see the next crop of major leaguers in action.
We will take a look at which prospect from each team may be the next to be called into action with their big league clubs.
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Arizona Diamondbacks: Jarrod Parker, Pitcher
Jarrod Parker was taken with the ninth overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 MLB draft. Even though he went through Tommy John surgery last season, Parker is still the top prospect in the D-Backs' organization and rated 29th overall by MLB.com.
Parker recently picked up his first victory since his surgery, giving up one run on five hits over five innings. It was the second consecutive good outing for Parker following a rough start.
With the Diamondbacks not going anywhere this season, Parker could get the opportunity to show his stuff at the major league level sooner rather than later.
Atlanta Braves: Julio Teheran, Pitcher
Is there any doubt that the Atlanta Braves have one of the best scouting departments in the majors?
Julio Teheran, Baseball America’s fifth highest rated prospect, is mowing down hitters at the Triple-A level and was just named the International League Pitcher of the Week.
Teheran is 3-0 in five starts with a 1.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 30 innings. He will definitely get a look at some point soon on the big league level.
Baltimore Orioles: Dan Klein, Pitcher
Dan Klein, the Orioles’ third-round draft pick last year, has already made a steady climb in the O’s organization. He was promoted to Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, after dominating at the Single-A level, giving up just two runs on nine hits in 15 innings, striking out 21.
Klein will absolutely continue his rapid ascent in the O’s system, and could very well see time shortly if he continues dominating at Double-A with Bowie. He very well could be the closer of the future for the Orioles.
Boston Red Sox: Josh Reddick, Outfielder
While many may believe that hot Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias is the popular choice here, with Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s more likely that Reddick will get the call first.
Reddick, who has seen limited action at the major league level the last two seasons, is currently hitting .260 for Triple-A Pawtucket, with eight home runs. The Sox still remain high on Reddick’s potential and could very well get the call again if any Sox outfielders go down with an injury.
Chicago White Sox: Gregory Infante, Pitcher
The Chicago White Sox kicked the tires on Venezuelan import Gregory Infante last September, and they liked what they saw. In five appearances, Infante did not allow a run, striking out five in 4.2 innings.
Infante thus far has been lights out at Double-A Birmingham, giving up just four hits in 11.1 innings over nine appearances, striking out eight.
General manager Kenny Williams could very well look to bring up Infante soon to perk up a bullpen that has been positively woeful thus far for the White Sox.
Chicago Cubs: Brett Jackson, Outfielder
Brett Jackson, the first-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2009, was asked to work on patience at the plate. The young speedy slugger has seemed to respond well thus far, hitting .297 for Double-A Tennessee, with three home runs, 12 runs batted in and 16 walks, good for a .404 on-base percentage.
Jackson is clearly the center fielder of the future for the Cubs, and with his continued progression and development, that future could start this season.
Cincinnati Reds: Devin Mesoraco, Catcher
Can you honestly name the last long-time Reds’ catcher other than Johnny Bench? The Reds are hoping that Devin Mesoraco will be that man, and soon.
Currently at Triple-A Louisville, Mesoraco has a .307-.404-.520 line, with three HRs and 12 RBIs and an 18-12 K/BB rate.
At 34 years of age, Ramon Hernandez is not the future for the Reds, and Ryan Hanigan is a capable backup, but he’s just that, a backup. The future could be bright for the Reds at the backstop position with Mesoraco.
Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall, Third Baseman
It’s hard to think that the Indians wouldn’t be calling up Chisenhall at some point soon. While current third baseman Jack Hannahan has performed well thus far, he is a career .229 hitter and not viewed as the answer for the future at third base.
Chisenhall has put up impressive numbers at Triple-A Columbus, with a .278 average, two homers and 15 runs batted in, and just three errors in 22 games.
The Indians are not afraid to bring up youngsters and let them play. If Chisenhall can add value to a team that has already overachieved, they will not hesitate.
Colorado Rockies: Wilin Rosario, Catcher
One would have to think that Rosario could very well get a look very soon, considering the inability of current Rockies’ catchers to hit thus far. Chris Iannetta has struggled mightily, currently hitting just .183 with 24 strikeouts in 60 at-bats, and his backup, Jose Morales, hasn’t fared much better, hitting just .217.
Rosario is currently hitting .295 at Double-A Tulsa, and the 22-year-old prospect from the Dominican Republic has an excellent arm, throwing out 40 percent of would-be base stealers during his minor league career.
The Rockies, at 17-10, could decide to make the move, especially considering that they clearly have a chance to contend in the National League West this season. They don’t need an automatic out at the catcher’s position.
Detroit Tigers: Andrew Oliver, Pitcher
The Tigers brought Andrew Oliver up during midseason last year, and it appeared that they may have rushed the young hurler. In five starts, Oliver put up a 7.36 ERA and walked 13 in 22 innings.
The Tigers sent Oliver back down to Toledo for more seasoning, and in nine starts Oliver posted a 3.23 ERA. Thus far this season in five starts, Oliver is 3-1 with a 3.64 ERA, and 31 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 29.2 innings.
While manager Jim Leyland continues tinkering with a sputtering offense, the pitching staff hasn’t been exactly lights out, either. Oliver could certainly get another look, especially if Phil Coke continues to be unimpressive, or if Brad Penny’s surgically repaired body fails to hold up.
Florida Marlins: Matt Dominguez, Third Base
For the moment, the Florida Marlins are fine with Greg Dobbs at third base. For now.
The Marlins are patiently awaiting the return of Matt Dominguez from a broken elbow suffered in early April. With Donnie Murphy recently hitting the disabled list with inflammation in his right wrist, the same wrist he dislocated last year, Dobbs and Wes Helms will likely split time at third base.
However, Dominguez is the future at the hot corner for the Marlins, and once he returns from his injury and successfully rehabs, he will see action at third base sometime in the near future.
Houston Astros: Jordan Lyles, Pitcher
There appears to be nothing stopping the rapid ascent of young 20-year-old pitcher Jordan Lyles, especially considering the Astros aren’t going anywhere.
Lyles has impressed thus far at Triple-A Oklahoma City with a 3.67 ERA in five starts. Lyles has terrific command for such a young pitcher, with a career 3.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer, First Baseman
It is going to be very hard for the Kansas City Royals to keep Eric Hosmer in Triple-A Omaha for too long, especially considering he’s tearing apart pitching down there. Thus far, Hosmer is hitting .430, with a .518 on-base percentage and a 1.099 OPS.
With Kila Ka’aihue hitting just .205 thus far, Hosmer could certainly be getting the call sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout, Outfielder
This kid is just not going to last in the minors very long. Mike Trout is everything you would ever want in an outfielder, and he has quickly shown the ability to adapt at every level.
Trout is now hitting .293 at Double-A Arkansas. While the Angels appear set in their outfield, they have shown no hesitation in going with youth already this season, with 21-year-old Tyler Chatwood, 23-year-old Hank Conger, 23-year-old Jordan Walden and 24-year-old Mark Trumbo.
They won’t hesitate to do the same with Trout if he continues to excel at the minor league level.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trayvon Robinson, Center Field
With two superstars like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the outfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers, there is little room for a young prospect to make his mark. However, Trayvon Robinson is stating an excellent case.
Currently at Triple-A Albuquerque, Robinson is hitting .307 with four home runs, 19 runs batted in, and an .865 OPS. With Jerry Sands already in the fold for the Dodgers, it might be a bit more difficult for Robinson to make his ascent to Dodgertown. However, Sands has been seeing time at first base with James Loney currently slumping and Sands himself only hitting .188.
Robinson’s time could come sooner than he thinks, as left field is certainly open at this point.
Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Rogers, Pitcher
The Milwaukee Brewers took a huge hit to their farm system with the trades that brought Shawn Marcum and Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, leaving the upper minor league levels pretty bare.
Mark Rogers may have the best chance of making it to the bigs. Rogers went through two full seasons of major shoulder issues and is currently at Triple-A working on his control issues. However, scouts still love his potential and if he can work on his mechanics and harness his control, Rogers could see time in Milwaukee at some point this season.
GM Doug Melvin mortgaged the future for the present, so don’t look for help from the minors anytime soon.
Minnesota Twins: Kyle Gibson, Pitcher
Given the current struggles of the Minnesota Twins, is it far-fetched to think that young prospect Kyle Gibson could get a look in the very near future?
With a rotation that has an ERA of 4.87 and an 8-15 record, that answer would be no.
Gibson is continuing to impress at the minor league level, with a record of 1-1 and an ERA of 3.46 in five starts for Triple-A Rochester. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.75 is outstanding, and at this point, manger Ron Gardenhire will be looking for anyone that can show command on the mound.
New York Mets: Anyone but Jenrry Mejia
Could the news get any worse for the New York Mets?
The young 21-year-old fireballer, Jenrry Mejia, is likely out for at least the next 9-12 months after being diagnosed with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right elbow and will need Tommy John surgery.
Mejia had been impressive at Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 1-2 record with a 2.86 ERA in five starts.
Chris Schwinden could possibly provide some relief for the Mets. Schwinden is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA at Buffalo and could certainly be in the mix in terms of starting pitching options for the Mets.
New York Yankees: Andrew Brackman, Pitcher
Andrew Brackman is one of the three “Killer B’s,” a trio of young pitchers in the Yankees’ organization that includes Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos. While Banuelos and Betances are currently developing their skills at Double-A Trenton, Brackman is seeing action at Triple-A Scranton.
Both Banuelos and Betances were slowed by blisters, and each have only thrown two starts. Brackman, a Tommy John surgery survivor, so to speak, is 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in five starts at Scranton.
I would think that Brackman would get the call before Banuelos or Betances, only because of experience and the Yankees’ wish not to rush their youngsters.
Oakland Athletics: Chris Carter, Left Field
Chris Carter was the A’s top prospect last year, and when he was called up originally in 2010, he promptly went 0-for-17 before being sent back down. When called up again, Carter extended his hitless streak to 33 at-bats before going 13 for 37 (.351) with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 13 games.
However, there are still defensive and consistency issues to contend with, but if Carter can somehow figure it out, the A’s will have that middle of the order slugger they have long been looking for.
Philadelphia Phillies: Domonic Brown, Right Fielder
There is really no question that Domonic Brown will get his chance in Philadelphia. Brown, who broke his hamate bone two months ago, is currently at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and will no doubt get a call sooner rather than later.
Brown, who struggled last year when called up by the Phillies, is no doubt their right fielder of the future. Once completely healthy with a few minor league games under his belt, he could very well get called up with Raul Ibanez mired in a horrible slump.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Justin Wilson, Pitcher
Justin Wilson, a fifth-round selection in the 2008 Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, has pitched very well in Triple-A Indianapolis, with a 2-2 record and 2.70 ERA in five starts.
Wilson has held opposing hitters to a .214 average and has displayed excellent command. Part of the ongoing Pittsburgh youth movement (some would say that’s been going on since 1993), Wilson could easily see time in Pittsburgh by midseason.
San Diego Padres: Anthony Rizzo, First Baseman
Anthony Rizzo was part of the package of prospects sent to the San Diego Padres by the Boston Red Sox for Adrian Gonzalez, and the young first baseman has already become prized in the eyes of San Diego management.
Rizzo is tearing up the Pacific Coast League, hitting .398 with eight home runs and 36 runs batted in for Tucson thus far. With the pitiful hitting display currently being turned in by current regulars in the Padres lineup, Rizzo cold absolutely see a call-up very shortly to provide a much needed lift.
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt, First Baseman/Outfielder
All indications are that general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy are leaning towards bringing Brandon Belt back up to help spark an anemic offense. Since being sent down, Belt has hit .517 in nine games.
Belt struggled somewhat with the Giants on his first go-around, hitting .192 in 17 games. However, with Pablo Sandoval sidelined for at least the next six weeks, Aubrey Huff hitting just .190, Miguel Tejada at .200 and Pat Burrell at .226, Bochy clearly is looking for a spark.
Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley, Second Baseman
Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, is a call-up just waiting to happen.
Ackley, the 12th highest rated prospect overall by Baseball America, is currently hitting just .211 at Triple-A Tacoma. However, Ackley hit .274 at Tacoma last season, and with older stars Jack Wilson and Adam Kennedy currently manning the second base position for the Mariners, my guess is that Ackley’s ascent to the majors will not be blocked by either one of those players.
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter, Third Base
With the hand injury that has knocked Cardinals’ third baseman David Freese out of the lineup for 2-3 months, the Cardinals are currently going with a trio of Daniel Descalso, Allen Craig and Nick Punto at third.
But, with prospect Matt Carpenter at Triple-A, who nearly made the team coming out of spring training, how much longer will they wait? Carpenter is hitting .280 and has yet to commit an error. Carpenter very well could be a better long-term answer for the Cardinals.
Tampa Bay Rays: Desmond Jennings, Outfielder
Many people expected that Desmond Jennings’ time in Tampa Bay would start as soon as Carl Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox. However, with the signing of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, the Jennings era was delayed.
The Rays won’t delay that era for much longer, however. Jennings is currently hitting .273 for Triple-A Durham and is literally just biding his time until he gets his call shortly from Joe Maddon.
Texas Rangers: Neil Ramirez, Pitcher
Ramirez, a first-round selection by the Rangers in the 2007 MLB draft, has been quite impressive at Triple-A Round Rock thus far, with a 2-1 record and 1.69 ERA in four starts, striking out 25 in 21.1 innings.
Ramirez is highly regarded, along with prospect Tanner Scheppers. Scheppers, however, has spent time on the DL already, and his progress has been set back.
Toronto Blue Jays: Brett Lawrie, Second Baseman
Lawrie was one of the key prospects included in the trade that sent Shawn Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers, and Lawrie’s future in Toronto appears bright.
Lawrie’s future is likely at third base, where he has been working out at Triple-A Las Vegas. Edwin Encarnacion and John McDonald are literally just holding the bag for now until Lawrie’s expected arrival.
Washington Nationals: Yunesky Maya, Pitcher
Cuban signee Yunesky Maya may just be the best bet to get a call-up before too long. However if the Nationals’ pitching staff keeps rolling along as well as they have thus far, it might be a little while.
Maya is 1-2 with a 3.73 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse, with 26 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. Maya was signed after he was suspended by the Cuban national baseball team, and then fled the country.
Maya did see action late last season for the Nationals, going 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA.