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6 Young MLB Stars in Danger of Demotion

Christopher CzarContributor IMay 13, 2011

6 Young MLB Stars in Danger of Demotion

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves hits a three home run in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Seldom is there anything good associated with the word demotion. 

    Maybe a demotion is your boss telling you, "you're just not good enough for this job."  Try again next year, now off the to mailroom.

    Maybe it's the girl you're dating demoting you to the "friend zone."  No sex—but plenty of "Sex in the City" marathons are in your future.

    The word demotion holds an equally depressing meaning in baseball. 

    Once a player makes it to the majors, there's really no circumstances where he wants to hear "Glad you liked the bright lights of Philadelphia, now welcome to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs."

    There's plenty of guys so far this season in need of a demotion. 

    The following list contains six players who are very talent but not living up to their previous performance in their young careers. 

    While some of these players might simply be in extended slumps, and some are showing signs already of pulling out of them, the fact that they're being mentioned for a demotion means that they're their off to disappointed starts.

    Granted, a couple of these guys are too important to their teams to be demoted this early in the season—despite their struggles—so I've included a "Demotion Meter" to measure the likelihood of their being sent down.

Chris Sale

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the New York Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field on August 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The White Sox phenom was dubbed as the savior of the White Sox bullpen before the season.

    Unfortunately for the fans on the South Side of Chicago, four of the team's primary relievers have ERAs over 6.5, including Chris Sale.

    At least Sale has an excuse as he's only had 23 innings of big league experience before the season.

    Sale was dynamic for the White Sox in a short stint last season, posting a 1.93 ERA, but he's been awful this year.

    He's not doing the White Sox any good in the majors now and needs to get sent down to Charlotte. 

    He'll be back up before too long, but the Sox risk damaging Sale's confidence if they continue to let him get shelled.

    DEMOTION METER: VERY HIGH

Mat Latos

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    PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 06:  Starting pitcher Mat Latos #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 6, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    After going 18-10 to start his promising young career, Latos has lost 10 consecutive decisions for the Padres.

    Thought to be one of the top young pitchers in baseball going into the season, Latos has struggled mightly this year.

    He's failed to pitch into the seventh inning in any game this year and has already let up six home runs.

    To Latos' defense, he's had virtually no offensive support from his teammates in San Diego as he receives just over two runs of support per start.

    Let less heralded Clayton Richard continue to absorb loses for the Padres and give Latos a break. 

    The Padres probably won't do it soon since technically he's their ace but if 0-5 turns into 0-10 there needs to be heavy consideration given to it.

    DEMOTION METER: LOW

Austin Jackson

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    DETROIT - APRIL 26: Austin Jackson #14 of the Detroit Tigers is tagged out at home by Miguel Olivo #30 of the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Comerica Park on April 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The runner-up to the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year was incredible last year.

    To start the season, Jackson had been unwatchable—hitting a ridiculously terrible .152 as recent as April 18.

    However, Jackson has very steadily raised his average to .227 thanks to eight multi-hit games in his last 18 games.

    Despite his recent surge, Jackson doesn't walk much and leads the universe in strikeouts. 

    The Tigers have been itching to get center fielder Andy Dirks a shot at the majors and another extended slump by Jackson might open up that opportunity.

    The team has been more than willing to give young players a tour in Toledo to work on their game (see Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello last year) and Jackson wouldn't be an exception.

    DEMOTION METER: MEDIUM—IF HE SLUMPS AGAIN

Jason Heyward

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves in action against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Jason Heyward has been doing the opposite of fellow sophomore Austin Jackson.

    After getting off to a great start to the season, Heyward has had a nightmarish May.  He's 2-28 this month with 13 strikeouts and zero RBIs.

    The highly touted Heyward was ultra hyped last year as a rookie and enjoyed a solid first season but his recent slump and nagging injuries have to have the Brave's brass concerned.

    Seeing as how important Heyward is to the Braves franchise, they might be wise to handle him carefully and give him some time to correct himself if he continues to struggle.

    DEMOTION METER: LOW—LOOK FOR A DL-STINT IF HE CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE

Chris Johnson

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    HOUSTON - MAY 11:  Third baseman Chris  Johnson #23 of the Houston Astros fields a ground ball during a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on May 11, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    After bursting out last season for 11 HRs and 54 RBIs in a little over a half of a season, Chris Johnson has been brutal this year, hitting a putrid .185 this year.

    Maybe the 316 carries the Titans gave him last year are taking their toll—seriously, I wonder if two dudes with the same name have ever looked so completely different.

    Despite their terrible record, the Astros can't continue to put a guy with his numbers in the lineup everyday...the problem is that they might not have any one else to play at third.

    DEMOTION METER: VERY HIGH

Andrew McCutchen

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 01:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates takes an at bat against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 1, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Pirates defeated the Rockies 8-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The athletic McCutchen is having a rough season.

    Although he has some decent power numbers and RBIs, McCutchen sees his average at .235 despite a hot first couple of weeks.

    McCutchen has heated up a bit over the past couple weeks hitting over .300 with some power but was just benched by manager Clint Hurdle for a lack of effort on the diamond.

    McCutchen failed to hustle on a passed ball following a strikeout and Hurdle expressed his displeasure.

    Not a good sign for the Buc's young superstar.

    McCutchen appears to have taken the benching in stride, however, and it appears to be out of character for him.

    If McCutchen doesn't get it going, though, don't be surprised if he's made an example of again.

    DEMOTION METER: VERY LOW

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