Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 10
The 2014 season has already seen a collection of notable prospects receive promotions to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are many, many more to come. And soon.
In fact, with the Super Two target deadline approaching (likely around mid-June), there should be plenty of promotions of primo prospects over the next weeks or two.
Already, highly regarded youngsters George Springer, Rougned Odor and Tommy La Stella are starting for their respective clubs following early season call-ups.
More recently, the St. Louis Cardinals promoted consensus top-five prospect Oscar Taveras over the weekend, while the Houston Astros gave first baseman Jon Singleton a long-term extension and brought him up Tuesday. As if on cue, both players homered in their very first big league game.
Beyond those two top young hitters, a pair of hard-throwing late-inning relievers debuted—Shae Simmons of the Atlanta Braves last week and Cam Bedrosian of the Los Angeles Angels this one—while Toronto Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman reappeared and looked good in his first start in the majors.
It shouldn't be long until other impact talents join the mix.
So, who will be the next to reach the major leagues? In order to predict estimated times of arrival in the majors this season, we've classified prospects using the following scale:
Red: September call-up at best
Orange: Second-half call-up
Yellow: Call-up within a month
Green: Call-up within a week/call-up is imminent
Here's a look at the prospect call-up report for Week 10 of the 2014 season.
Others on the Cusp
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (Double-A): .348/.456/.690, 50 R, 34 XBH (19 HR), 51 RBI, 7 SB, 67:37 K:BB (252 PA)
Despite what former big leaguer and current Cubs TV analyst Todd Hollandsworth says about Kris Bryant's being ready, per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the No. 2 overall pick last June remains a long shot to debut before the second half.
Those in charge of the actual decision-making for the rebuilding club continue to reiterate they're in no rush to push the Southern League's home run, RBI and OPS leader to the majors, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
That said, with how much the 22-year-old Bryant has been dominating Double-A, his debut ETA radar color is changing from red (September call-up) to burnt orange (late second half).
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 4 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 4 HR, 55:24 K:BB (55.2 IP)
With Jon Singleton having teamed back up with George Springer in Houston this week, it might not be long before another of the Astros' top prospects joins the party.
After a pair of poor outings back in early April, Mike Foltynewicz has been throwing really well—and, as usual, really hard—in his first year at Triple-A. His last start was arguably his best yet: 7.2 innings of six-hit, one-run ball with 10 strikeouts and no walks (see video).
The 22-year-old has put himself in a position where the Astros will bring him up at some point in the near future to see how he fits into a burgeoning rotation that currently features underrated young arms like Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Jarred Cosart.
Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Double/Triple-A): .353/.439/.554, 58 R, 28 XBH (7 HR), 35 RBI, 22 SB, 21:36 K:BB (264 PA)
Mookie Betts has followed his 2013 breakout with an even better showing so far this season. That, as well as the Boston Red Sox's struggles at the big league level, got the 21-year-old promoted to Triple-A last weekend.
While Betts has played second base (his natural position) in each of his first two games with Pawtucket, he had been getting time in center field during the end of his stay at Double-A. With Shane Victorino still out with a hamstring injury, the Grady Sizemore experiment not working out and Jackie Bradley Jr. continuing to hover around .200, Betts is now a step closer to Boston.
If Betts keeps playing and hitting this well—he homered in his second game at Triple-A—he just might force the Red Sox's hand.
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats (Double/Triple-A): 3 W, 4.47 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7 HR, 57:17 K:BB (56.1 IP)
The San Diego Padres passed over Matt Wisler in favor of Jesse Hahn for a spot start earlier this week, but don't read too much into that.
For one, Wisler is the much more highly regarded prospect, so the club is going to be more conservative with him. For another, Hahn's debut didn't go well: He lasted only 3.2 frames before departing after allowing four earned runs on six hits (two homers) and two walks.
With Andrew Cashner expected to make his return this weekend, per Will Laws of MLB.com, the need for another starter might not be quite as great. Even so, the 21-year-old Wisler, who has started to figure out Triple-A after initially struggling upon his early season promotion, could be next in line—and up before June is over.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (High-/Double-/Triple-A): 1 W, 3.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 2 HR, 24:6 K:BB (14.1 IP)
Taijuan Walker's radar color is green—for now. His return to the Seattle Mariners appears imminent, but it also depends entirely on how his right shoulder holds up through another rehab outing or two.
The 21-year-old was expected to break camp in the five-man rotation, but an impingement in the shoulder caused him to be first shut down and then set him back during his initial rehab process.
Walker's most recent start for Tacoma on Tuesday was so-so, as he threw 56 pitches but made it through only two frames, per Teddy Cahill of MLB.com. He allowed one run on two hits, and while he struck out four, he also walked four.
The biggest thing, though, is that Walker came away feeling fine. At this point, he still may need another couple turns at Triple-A to build up his pitch count and sharpen his stuff so he can be ready to go once the M's insert him into the rotation. Barring any more setbacks, that should happen sooner than later. Emphasis on "should."
Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 5 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 7 HR, 52:29 K:BB (60.2 IP)
While many will start calling for the Colorado Rockies to call up last year's No. 3 pick, Jon Gray, in the wake of Jordan Lyle's broken left (non-throwing) hand, the hard-throwing right-hander is only at Double-A and hasn't even reached 20 pro starts yet. Also? He's not on the 40-man roster.
Aside from Eddie Butler (more on him in a moment), another—and perhaps more likely—candidate to get a rotation shot in Denver first is Tyler Matzek, the team's top pick (No. 11 overall) back in 2009, as Nick Groke of The Denver Post speculates.
It's taken the 23-year-old a while to rise through the ranks because he's constantly battled control problems, as his career 6.1 walks per nine rate shows. That mark, though, is down to a career-best (although still not good) 4.3 per nine this season.
Matzek is the kind of enigmatic pitcher who will throw a gem followed by a dud, so if he does get a chance with the Rockies, the length of his stay will be determined by whether he can avoid the latter result.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 6 W, 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 3 HR, 70:14 K:BB (70.2 IP)
Thursday is Andrew Heaney's 23rd birthday. For a present, he would no doubt like a call-up to the major leagues, which could happen very, very soon.
The top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball at the moment, Heaney has thrown well in two of his first three starts at Triple-A after he made quick work of the level below to begin the season.
With Jacob Turner and Randy Wolf (yes, really) barely holding down the back end of the Marlins rotation, an arm like Heaney, who has both strikeout stuff and great command, would be a big lift for a team that lost Jose Fernandez for the year and still is very much in the thick of things in a winnable NL East.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 1 W, 2.98 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4 HR, 44:18 K:BB (42.1 IP)
With the possibility that right-hander Miguel Gonzalez could be headed to the disabled list if he can't make Saturday's start due to pain in his right side, as Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun reports, the Orioles could once again dip down to Norfolk to bring up Kevin Gausman.
Their top take—and No. 4 overall—in 2012, Gausman pitched both in the rotation and out of the bullpen last season for Baltimore, and he made one spot start in mid-May this year.
The 23-year-old's most recent Triple-A outing was cut short after just one inning and 26 pitches, a sign the O's have him pegged as the backup plan if Gonzalez can't go.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats (Tripe-A): .355/.412/.550, 45 R, 28 XBH (6 HR), 48 RBI, 14 SB, 40:22 K:BB (255 PA)
OK, Pittsburgh Pirates, enough toying with Gregory Polanco—and everyone else, for that matter.
Wednesday brought news of reports, like this one from PiratesProspects.com, that the 22-year-old was going to—finally—get the call to join the club Thursday, making everyone all hot and bothered. But then came the team's denial of said rumors, via Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which went and made everyone even more hot and bothered.
While all of that may, in fact, be nothing more than a frustrating tease with arguably the most big league-ready elite prospect in the sport, one thing's for sure: Polanco will be up any darn day now.
Polanco has been playing right field all season long and, more recently, he's been hitting leadoff for Indianapolis as part of his preparation to become a Pirate and take on both of those roles. By the time you read this, Polanco may have already been called up. Or, you know, not.
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats (Double-A): 4 W, 2.49 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 3 HR, 40:19 K:BB (68.2 IP)
Unlike the dilly-dallying going on in Pittsburgh, we know—like, for certain—that Eddie Butler will be making his Rockies debut Friday in a start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports.
Butler, 23, throws hard and has a deep repertoire of stuff that moves, cuts and dances. Yet, somehow, he's only struck out 5.2 batters per nine innings with Tulsa so far this season. He did, though, whiff at least 8.1 per nine at each of his three stops in the minors during last season's breakout campaign.
What's interesting here is that the Rockies are calling on Butler after his shortest and arguably worst start of the season (4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 4:2 K:BB). Then again, he's one of the more big league-ready arms at the Double-A level, and Colorado needs help on the mound, with Franklin Morales and his 5.85 ERA no longer capable of pitching out of the rotation and Tyler Chatwood and now Jordan Lyles hurt.
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