MLB Prospects Proving They're Ready for Their Big League Shot

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2015

MLB Prospects Proving They're Ready for Their Big League Shot

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    Minnesota's Jose Berrios should make an appearance at Target Field sometime soon.
    Minnesota's Jose Berrios should make an appearance at Target Field sometime soon.Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Whether it's with a contending team looking for a shot in the arm or a rebuilding club evaluating talent for the future, prospects often get their first taste of big league action over the final two months of the season.

    Many times, a top prospect will enter The Show down the stretch with an eye toward taking on a bigger role the following campaign.

    Whatever the situation, there are a number of highly regarded minor leaguers currently playing at either the Double-A or Triple-A levels who have proven they're ready for a shot at the majors. Here is a look at 10 such players, based on their performance so far this year.

    *Note: Only players with zero big league experience were considered for inclusion.

SS Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Michael Spooneybarger/Associated Press

    2015 Stats (Double-A)

    385 AB, .306/.349/.447, 29 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 53 RBI, 58 R, 20 SB

    Blocked By: Jean Segura

    355 AB, .259/.286/.327, 6 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 33 R, 16 SB, 0.3 WAR

    Player Overview

    While he was the top prospect in a relatively weak Milwaukee Brewers system entering the season, Orlando Arcia has taken a big step forward in his development and now ranks as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

    A slick fielder whose bat needed to catch up to his glove for him to be an everyday guy, Arcia hit .289/.346/.392 with 38 extra-base hits in a full season at High-A Brevard County last year.

    Those numbers represented progress at the plate. But the 21-year-old has made tremendous strides this season, checking in as the No. 8 prospect in the league in Baseball America's midseason top 50.

    Jean Segura looked like a future star at shortstop with a breakout performance in 2013, but he's hit just .251/.288/.326 with a 0.9 WAR since the start of the 2014 season.

    The 25-year-old Segura is still under team control through 2018, but expect him to slide to second or third base in the near future to open things up for Arcia.

SP Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    2015 Stats (Double-A and Triple-A)

    21 GS, 10-4, 3.23 ERA, 1.130 WHIP, 35 BB, 126 K, 128.1 IP

    Blocked By: Tyler Duffey (recently promoted, MiLB stats)

    21 GS, 6-8, 2.66 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, 30 BB, 117 K, 132.0 IP

    Player Overview

    When the Minnesota Twins selected Jose Berrios with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2012 draft, he became the highest-drafted Puerto Rican pitcher of all time.

    Since making his full-season debut at Single-A Cedar Rapids in 2012, he's moved quickly through the system, and all signs point to a September call-up this year at the very least.

    MLB.com's Prospect Watch ranks him as the No. 26 minor leaguer in baseball (No. 3 in the Twins system) and said the following about the 21-year-old right-hander:

    He has a live, quick arm that fires fastballs that touch 95-96 mph regularly and easily sits in the low-90s. His changeup is his best secondary offering, a sinking offspeed pitch which is very effective against left-handed hitters. His breaking ball is a hard slurve, thrown with good deception, and he'll vary the velocity and size of it to throw hitters off. Berrios is very athletic, repeating his delivery well and staying in and around the strike zone consistently.

    Whether he steps into a role in the bullpen or takes over as the team's No. 5 starter, Berrios has the electric stuff to make an impact in the Twins' push for a playoff berth.

SS Gavin Cecchini, New York Mets

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    2015 Stats (Double-A)

    387 AB, .315/.372/.447, 22 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 56 R, 2 SB

    Blocked By: Ruben Tejada

    255 AB, .255/.322/.341, 16 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 24 R, 2 SB, -0.3 WAR

    Player Overview

    There has been a good deal of shuffling in the New York Mets infield this season as the team tries to deal with the loss of David Wright (spinal stenosis).

    At the moment, the club is using the likes of Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy as well as deadline additions Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson alongside first baseman Lucas Duda in the infield.

    Manager Terry Collins' mixing and matching with that group has led to an increase in production of late, but the team adding Gavin Cecchini to the rotation before the campaign is over is not out of the question.

    The 21-year-old was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2012 draft, but his pro career had been something of a disappointment heading into this season.

    He hit .247/.328/.378 in 2014 over three levels. However, he returned to Double-A this year where he has really turned a corner at the plate.

    Cecchini will never be much of a power threat, but he has the plus approach and good contact skills to profile as a No. 2 hitter. Fellow prospect Amed Rosario may have a higher ceiling among shortstops, but Cecchini is on the cusp of making a big league impact. And considering the Mets' hitting woes, any injection of offensive skill would be a welcome sight as the team battles for a playoff spot.

2B Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2015 Stats (Triple-A)

    378 AB, .275/.321/.413, 14 2B, 10 3B, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 53 R, 29 SB

    Blocked By: Neil Walker

    374 AB, .270/.328/.420, 24 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 49 R, 3 SB, 1.5 WAR

    Player Overview

    Dominican-born Alen Hanson joined the top-prospect ranks with a breakout season in 2012 when he hit .309/.381/.528 with 33 doubles, 13 triples and 16 home runs as a 19-year-old at the Single-A level.

    He's progressed steadily through the system in the years since, and he is holding his own so far this season at Triple-A Indianapolis.

    The switch-hitter has more pop than his 5'11", 180-pound frame would indicate. And his plus speed makes him a weapon on the bases, as he projects to be the next in a line of homegrown position-player talents in Pittsburgh.

    A lack of arm strength necessitated his moving from shortstop to second base and in the process left him blocked by Neil Walker at the big league level.

    Walker reaches free agency following the 2016 season, so the 22-year-old Hanson may have to wait until then to step into a full-time role. However, he doesn't have much left to prove at the minor league level, and he should be able to contribute in some capacity down the stretch. 

CF Travis Jankowski, San Diego Padres

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    2015 Stats (Double-A and Triple-A)

    330 AB, .336/.412/.427, 15 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 59 R, 26 SB

    Blocked By: Will Venable

    260 AB, .250/.313/.377, 9 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 33 R, 9 SB, 0.3 WAR

    Player Overview

    Travis Jankowski hit .414/.475/.620 during his junior season of college, helping lead Stony Brook to a surprise trip to the College World Series in the process.

    The San Diego Padres grabbed him with the No. 44 overall pick in the draft that June, and he's slowly progressed through the system since.

    After stealing 71 bases and hitting .286 during his first full pro season in 2013, he dealt with a broken wrist last year that limited him to just 46 games.

    He began the season as the team's No. 29 prospect, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, but he has quickly established himself as the center fielder and leadoff hitter of the future with a breakout season.

    With Justin Upton and Will Venable both headed for free agency, there figures to be an open spot for Jankowski in the outfield next year alongside Wil Myers and Matt Kemp.

SP Frankie Montas, Chicago White Sox

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    2015 Stats (Double-A)

    18 GS, 3-2, 2.43 ERA, 1.124 WHIP, 32 BB, 82 K, 89.0 IP

    Blocked By: SP John Danks

    20 GS, 6-8, 4.80 ERA, 1.443 WHIP, 34 BB, 83 K, 114.1 IP

    Player Overview

    Technically, Frankie Montas has already spent time in the big leagues as the Chicago White Sox called him up as the 26th man for a double-header earlier this season. However, he did not pitch in that game and has yet to make his big league debut, so he still qualifies here.

    Originally signed by the Red Sox, the hard-throwing Montas came to the Chicago White Sox in the three-team deadline deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston, Jose Iglesias to Detroit and also brought Avisail Garcia to Chicago in 2013.

    After pitching to a 5.43 ERA at the Single-A level in 2013, he opened 2014 as the No. 29 prospect in the White Sox system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Suffice to say he was well off the top-prospect radar.

    That changed last season, though, as he was one of the breakout minor leaguers of 2014, posting a 1.44 ERA, 0.914 WHIP and 80 strikeouts in 81 innings of work.

    He's been equally impressive this year while making the jump to Double-A, and he showed off his power stuff during the Futures Game when he touched 101 with his fastball.

    His future is in the rotation, but he could help out in the bullpen right now if and when the White Sox decide to promote him.

SS Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    2015 Stats (Double-A and Triple-A)

    378 AB, .296/.349/.492, 28 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 54 RBI, 61 R, 3 SB

    Blocked By: Jimmy Rollins

    370 AB, .219/.273/.362, 16 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 46 R, 8 SB, -0.3 WAR

    Player Overview

    Alongside center fielder Joc Pederson and left-hander Julio Urias, shortstop Corey Seager is one of three high-ceiling prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization expected to emerge as bona fide stars.

    Pederson was the first to reach the majors, earning a spot on the NL All-Star team with a strong first half this season, and it may not be much longer before Seager joins him.

    The No. 18 overall pick in 2012, Seager put up huge numbers between High-A and Double-A last season, hitting .349/.402/.602 with 50 doubles, 20 home runs and 97 RBI.

    "Seager has a smooth, balanced lefty swing as well as bat speed, strength and a mature all-fields approach. He can get a bit aggressive at times but has what it takes to hit for both average and power," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    His 6'4" frame is probably better suited for the hot corner, but the Dodgers have a long-term need at shortstop, so he'll get every chance to stick there. He can be one of the game's elite offensive producers, at least relative to the position.

    Offseason acquisition Jimmy Rollins has been largely disappointing this year, but it appears the team will stick with him for the duration. The 36-year-old is a free agent this winter, and all signs point to Seager stepping into the everyday job in 2016.

SP Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

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    2015 Stats (High-A, Double-A and Triple-A)

    19 G, 17 GS, 10-4, 1.30 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, 43 BB, 126 K, 103.2 IP

    Blocked By: SP Matt Moore (recently optioned to minors)

    6 G, 6 GS, 1-3, 8.78 ERA, 2.063 WHIP, 13 BB, 17 K, 26.2 IP

    Player Overview

    A supplemental-round pick in 2011, going No. 52 overall, left-hander Blake Snell has a chance to be the next in a line of impressive, homegrown arms to come out of the Tampa Bay Rays' farm system.

    The 22-year-old went 8-8 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.309 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 115.1 innings last season between Single-A and High-A. That was enough for him to open the season as the No. 9 prospect in the Rays' system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

    Back at High-A Charlotte to open this season, it didn't take Snell long to earn a promotion. He began the year with an impressive 49-inning scoreless streak, and he's continued to thrive on his way to reaching Triple-A.

    Snell has improved his command each of the past three years, and he has a strong three-pitch repertoire with a mid-90s fastball backed by a plus slider/changeup combination.

    With Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly both sidelined and Matt Moore recently demoted after struggling in his return from Tommy John surgery, there is a chance Snell could see some time in the rotation down the stretch.

SP Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    2015 Stats (Double-A and Triple-A)

    20 G, 20 GS, 8-7, 3.23 ERA, 1.155 WHIP, 56 BB, 125 K, 114.1 IP

    Blocked By: Raisel Iglesias, Keyvius Sampson and David Holmberg

    Iglesias: 10 G, 8 GS, 2-3, 5.13 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, 15 BB, 47 K, 47.1 IP

    Sampson: 2 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 0.667 WHIP, 1 BB, 8 K, 6.0 IP

    Holmberg: 1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 3 BB, 4 K, 6.0 IP

    Player Overview

    Since the winter meetings, the Cincinnati Reds have traded four out of the five pitchers of their starting rotation (Alfredo Simon, Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake), and the last man standing, Homer Bailey, is currently sidelined while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

    That has opened the door for young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, 25, and Michael Lorenzen, 23, to show they can be solid rotation pieces, but someone will need to step into the role of staff ace.

    All signs point to that someone being Robert Stephenson.

    The No. 27 pick in the 2011 draft, Stephenson can dial his fastball up to the high 90s. And he pairs it with one of the better curveballs in the minors, helping him to a career 9.9 strikeouts-per-nine-inning mark during his pro career.

    Control is the big question for the 22-year-old, as he posted a 4.9 BB/9 mark last season.

    However, since making the jump to Triple-A, he's improved his command with a 3.2 BB/9 mark. That may be a sign he's ready to join the big league rotation.

SS Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    2015 Stats (Double-A and Triple-A)

    400 AB, .325/.376/.473, 21 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 52 RBI, 61 R, 25 SB

    Blocked By: Ian Desmond

    387 AB, .214/.261/.354, 17 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 46 R, 6 SB, 0.0 WAR

    Player Overview

    Shipped to the Washington Nationals as part of the three-team, Wil Myers-to-San Diego trade during the offseason, Trea Turner has quickly become the top position-player prospect in a system loaded with pitching talent.

    After a standout career at NC State, he's quickly adjusted to life in the pros, hitting .324/.389/.462 with 37 doubles, nine triples and 13 home runs in 173 games.

    Speed is his biggest weapon, and some grade his wheels as a legitimate 80 out of 80. But he has the tools to be the complete package at shortstop both offensively and defensively.

    He made the jump to Triple-A shortly after joining the Nationals organization in June, and he's hit .321/.363/.463 with 10 extra-base hits in 36 games at the level.

    All signs point to Ian Desmond departing in free agency this coming offseason, and Turner appears ready to step into the everyday job when Opening Day rolls around next year.

    That being said, if Desmond continues to struggle like he has and the Nationals find themselves in a tight race down the stretch, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think Turner could see some important playing time in 2015.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted, and current through Tuesday, August 5.

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