2014 MLB All-Star Futures Game: Predicting MLB ETAs for Each Top Prospect

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJuly 10, 2014

2014 MLB All-Star Futures Game: Predicting MLB ETAs for Each Top Prospect

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    In addition to offering fans a unique opportunity to watch baseball’s brightest prospects on the same field, the annual All-Star Futures Game serves as a stepping stone for young players destined for greatness in the major leagues.

    However, trying to determine when a certain prospect might arrive in the major leagues can be challenging, as it forces one to evaluate the player’s overall potential in context of his organization’s long-term outlook.

    So when can fans expect to see this year’s Futures Game participants in the major leagues?

    Here’s a breakdown of the rosters for the U.S. and World teams complete with estimated times of arrival (ETAs) for every player.

US: Catchers

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    Kevin Plawecki, New York Mets

    ETA: 2015

    Plawecki, 23, was recently promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after he batted .326/.378/.478 with six home runs and 43 RBI in 58 games at Double-A Binghamton. Unfortunately, Plawecki currently has Travis d’Arnaud blocking his path to the major leagues, and the Mets have no intention of giving up on him anytime soon. 

    Plawecki likely will spend the rest of the season at Las Vegas but could conceivably receive his first taste of the major leagues should d’Arnaud hit the disabled list for an extended period of time. However, a debut at some point during 2015 is more realistic, as the Mets have no need to rush Plawecki’s development this season.


    Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay Rays

    ETA: 2016

    O’Conner was an unexpected selection to the U.S. team’s roster despite the fact he’s turned in an overdue breakout performance this year at High-A Charlotte. The 22-year-old has tremendous arm strength behind the plate, evidenced by his 53 percent caught-stealing rate this season, and overall he projects to be an above-average defender by the time he reaches the major leagues. However, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the right-handed hitter’s raw approach and high strikeout rate (68-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 277 plate appearances) suggests he may need a few more years of refinement in the minor leagues.

World: Catchers

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    Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers

    ETA: 2016

    Although Alfaro flashes huge potential on both sides of the ball, the 21-year-old’s overall game is still both raw and inconsistent and leaves something to be desired, especially as it relates to his ability as a blocker and receiver.

    Alfaro likely will need at least two more seasons in the minors to refine his defense and approach, which means he could be ready to debut with the Rangers at some point during the 2016 season.


    Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox

    Christian Vazquez was selected to replace Christian Bethancourt on the World team’s roster, but he won’t appear in the game after making his major league debut on Wednesday. Meanwhile, it’s yet to be announced who will take his place on Sunday.

US: Infielders

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    D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, Seattle Mariners

    ETA: Early 2015

    Regarded as the most advanced college hitter in the 2013 draft class, D.J. Peterson’s advanced approach and impressive bat already have him moving up the organizational ladder, as the 22-year-old was promoted to Double-A Jackson last week after putting up huge numbers in the California League. It's doubtful he reaches the major leagues this year, but Peterson should hit his way into a call-up with the Mariners during the 2015 season.


    Peter O’Brien, C/1B/OF, New York Yankees

    ETA: Late 2015

    O'Brien, like Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo, has put up monster numbers this season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, but his inability to control the strike zone suggests that his current level of production is likely to regress over the remainder of the season. He doesn’t profile cleanly at any one position, but the Yankees still are likely to try to get his right-handed power in their lineup at some point next season.


    Sean Coyle, 2B, Boston Red Sox

    ETA: Late 2015

    Coyle, 22, is an undersized, bat-first second baseman with an intriguing combination of power and speed from the left side of the plate, and his breakout performance this season at Double-A Portland has him within striking distance of the major leagues. However, he’s unlikely to get the call anytime soon with both Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts ahead of him on the organizational depth chart.


    Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Johnson took home Minor League Player of the Year honors last year in his full-season debut, and he’s now knocking on the door of the major leagues after a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte in late May. The 23-year-old second baseman has shown better plate discipline this season while trimming some of the swing-and-miss from his game, but he’s also struggled on the basepaths with 16 stolen bases in 27 attempts after going 84-for-110 in 2013.

    The resurgence of Gordon Beckham this season means Johnson is unlikely to reach the major leagues before September save for an injury or trade. However, he should be ready to take over at keystone in 2016 should Beckham end up leaving via free agency.


    J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

    ETA: 2016

    J.P. Crawford has proved to be more advanced than expected in his brief professional career, as the 19-year-old shortstop has already received a promotion to High-A Clearwater just halfway into his first full season. While he obviously won’t be ready to replace Jimmy Rollins at short next season, Crawford is already on the fast track to the major leagues and, assuming his development goes as planned, could be ready to debut during the 2016 season.


    Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

    ETA: Late 2015

    Seager has nothing left to prove this season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, as the 20-year-old has already mastered the California League and is ready for a greater challenge. However, if the Dodgers stick to their usual developmental timeline for top prospects, Seager may not receive his promotion to Double-A Chattanooga until the season’s final months—similar to how he was moved from Low- to High-A last year in early August.

    Seager’s arrival in the major leagues seemingly will depend on whether the Dodgers agree to a contract extension with Hanley Ramirez. If the team ends up having to replace Ramirez next season, then it might be more inclined to challenge Seager and accelerate his timeline. That said, I’d still be surprised to see him in the majors before late 2015.


    Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Gallo currently leads the minor leagues with 31 home runs, and he's already hit 10 bombs in his first 26 games at Double-A Frisco. The 20-year-old slugger is a long shot to reach the major leagues this season, but one has to believe it’s at least on the Rangers’ mind given the recent promotion. It’s a fun thought to entertain, but I wouldn’t expect Gallo to arrive until 2015.


    Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

    ETA: Late 2014

    Cubs president Theo Epstein recently stated, via Jesse Rogers on Twitter, that he doesn’t “foresee” Bryant playing in the major leagues this season—which is what any wise front-office official would say when trying to temper expectations.

    While it makes sense to let him develop in the minor leagues for the entire season, there’s also no way the organization lets him approach 40 home runs while at Triple-A. Therefore, I predict Bryant will ultimately force the Cubs' hand this year and spend the final month of the regular season in the major leagues.

World: Infielders

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    Kennys Vargas, 1B, Minnesota Twins

    ETA: Late 2015

    While Vargas stands out for his plus raw power as a 6’5”, 275-pound first baseman, the 23-year-old switch-hitter actually is a much more mature and disciplined hitter than people realize. Beyond his potential to hit 20-25 home runs in a given season, Vargas also projects as at least an average hitter with strong on-base skills at the highest level.

    With Joe Mauer now serving as the Twins’ everyday first baseman, Vargas’ clearest path to the major leagues will likely come as a designated hitter, though that will also depend on what the organization does with Kendry Morales.


    Maikel Franco, 3B/1B, Philadelphia Phillies

    ETA: Late 2014

    Franco, 21, has yet to emerge from his season-long funk at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, as he’s struggled to the tune of a .656 OPS and has hit only six home runs through 85 games. The Phillies won’t have to rush him to the major leagues this season so long as Cody Asche stays healthy. Though at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if they audition him at both corner infield positions as a September call-up.


    Jose Peraza, 2B, Atlanta Braves

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Peraza, 20, has jumped on the fast track to the major leagues—indicated by his shift from shortstop to second base in deference to Andrelton Simmons—this season with his outstanding performance at a pair of advanced levels.

    Having already received a promotion to Double-A Mississippi a few weeks back, Peraza shows no signs of slowing down until he reaches the major leagues, which could happen as early as mid-2015.


    Jose Rondon, SS, Los Angeles Angels

    ETA: Late 2016

    Rondon has an advanced approach for his age (20) to go along with good contact skills, but he’s unlikely to offer more than gap power at maturity. He’ll need a few more years to develop on both sides of the ball, but it’s worth noting he has a relatively clear path to the major leagues and could be ready to replace Erick Aybar as the Angels’ everyday shortstop in 2017.


    Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

    ETA: Late 2014

    Baez’s highly anticipated season at Triple-A Iowa hasn’t gone as expected, but that shouldn’t make him any less likely to receive a call-up later this season. The 21-year-old has a track record of putting up big numbers during the second half of a season, so expect him to finally get a look with the Cubs once he’s officially righted the ship.


    Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

    ETA: Late 2014

    Like I’ve said since the beginning of the season, all signs point to the Indians giving the 20-year-old shortstop a second-half promotion to the major leagues before taking over for soon-to-be free agent Asdrubal Cabrera at the position in 2015.


    Rosell Herrera, SS/3B, Colorado Rockies

    ETA: 2016

    With Troy Tulowitzki under contract through the 2020 season, being a shortstop in the Colorado system can’t be an easy gig. The 21-year-old switch-hitter is currently playing for High-A Modesto but will need a few more years in the minor leagues to develop. And with Tulo locked in at the position for the foreseeable future, it might make sense for the Rockies to dangle Herrera as trade bait later this season.


    Renato Nunez, 3B, Oakland Athletics

    ETA: 2016

    Nunez, 20, is showing more consistent power and a better approach this season at High-A Stockton, while the presence of Josh Donaldson in the major leagues will give the A’s freedom to ensure Nunez develops thoroughly in the minors.

US: Outfielders

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    Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates

    ETA: Late 2015

    Moved up to High-A Bradenton for his 2014 campaign, Bell, 21, has made offensive strides in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, as he’s hitting for a high average, showing improved power and handling the strike zone.

    Bell is developing a track record of strong performances in challenging environments, so expect him to receive a promotion to Double-A in the near future, thus setting him up for a potential late 2015 debut with the Pirates.


    James Ramsey, St. Louis Cardinals

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Ramsey, the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is hitting for both average and power this season in his second tour of the Double-A level. However, the 24-year-old won’t have a clear path to the major leagues anytime soon with Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, not to mention the team’s host of outfielders already residing in the major leagues.


    Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres

    ETA: Late 2015

    Renfroe, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is putting together an impressive first full professional season, as the 22-year-old outfielder has already received a promotion to Double-A San Antonio. His approach and pitch recognition both need considerable refinement, but the power-starved Padres may try to expedite his arrival in the major leagues, which would support the organization’s decision last week to promote him. Still, I wouldn’t expect to see him in a Padres uniform at any point this season.


    Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals

    ETA: Late 2014

    After years of flashing his potential in the low minors, Taylor, 23, appears to be finally putting it all together this season, as he’s doing a little bit of everything offensively while offering his usual plus defense in center field.

    Though he’s on the Nats’ 40-man roster, creating space for Taylor in the outfield this season prior to his inevitable call-up in September is likely to create more problems than solutions, unless it’s in response to an injury. However, the Nats are big believers in the kid (so am I), so expect him to be in the mix once there’s a vacancy in the outfield.


    Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds

    ETA: Late 2015

    One of the more underrated hitters in the minor leagues, Winker, 20, quietly has jumped on the major league radar this season by hitting both for average and power at a pair of advanced levels, including Double-A. He won’t reach the major leagues this season, but Winker’s bat could have him in the mix for time in left field during the 2015 season.

World: Outfielders

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    Dariel Alvarez, Baltimore Orioles

    ETA: Late 2014

    Signed by the Orioles last July after defecting from Cuba, Alvarez is putting together a surprisingly productive first full season in the states, as the 25-year-old is hitting for both average and power in the Eastern League. His swing and approach both will be exploited by big league pitching once he arrives, though it’s still likely the Orioles call him up at some point this season.


    Domingo Santana, Houston Astros

    ETA: Already debuted in 2014

    Santana, 21, is on pace to put up career-best numbers across the board this season while serving as one of the youngest everyday players at the Triple-A level. His hit tool is still suspect due to his penchant for whiffing, but the right-handed batter’s power is legit and should translate to 20-plus home runs annually at the highest level.

    Santana received his first taste of the major leagues last week following an unexpected promotion, but he failed to make the most of the opportunity by going 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts while appearing in three games. However, he’s likely to get a longer look at the highest level later this season.


    Gabby Guerrero, Seattle Mariners

    ETA: 2016

    The nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, Gabby, 20, has shown more consistent power as well as better plate discipline this season at High-A High Desert, and he could be in store for a promotion to Double-A at some point later in the summer. If he continues down his current development path, Guerrero potentially could be ready for an audition with the Mariners in 2016.


    Dalton Pompey, Toronto Blue Jays

    ETA: Late 2015

    Pompey, 21, has made a name for himself this season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, as he’s shown a high-end combination of hit/power potential and speed while also playing a solid center field. Toronto has a few intriguing prospects at the position, but Pompey should be the first to reach the major leagues, possibly as early as late next season.


    Steven Moya, Detroit Tigers

    ETA: Late 2015

    Moya, 22, is enjoying a breakout season this year at Double-A Erie but still has a long, long way to go in terms of improving his approach and plate discipline to the point where the Tigers feel comfortable promoting him to the major leagues.

US: Pitchers

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    Christian Binford, RHP, Kansas City Royals

    ETA: 2016

    Binford, a 30th-round draft pick in 2011, breezed through the Carolina League this season thanks to his plus command of a three-pitch mix, and he recently was rewarded for his strong performance with a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

    While he lacks a true plus offering, the 21-year-old’s impressive feel for pitching should at least allow him to hold his own at the more advanced level, thus setting him up for a potential major league debut in late 2015 or early 2016.


    Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

    ETA: Late 2015

    Giolito, 19, is simply too good to spend much time in the minor leagues, as he possesses arguably the highest ceiling among all pitching prospects to go along with the potential to make an immediate impact in the major leagues.

    Unfortunately, at least for baseball fans, the right-hander is unlikely to join the Nationals until late 2015 at the earliest, as the organization has and will continue to dictate his workload like it has in the past with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.


    Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

    ETA: 2016

    Few pitchers in the low minors have been as impressive as Hunter Harvey this season, as the 19-year-old—this is his full-season debut—has dominated older hitters in the South Atlantic League. As was the case with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in recent years, Harvey should be able to move quickly through the minor leagues compared to his peers.


    Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins

    ETA: Late 2014

    Meyer, 24, has been impressive at Triple-A Rochester this season, as it’s become increasingly clear that he has little left to prove in the minor leagues. The 6’9” right-hander seemingly is next in line to be called up by the Twins, and it could happen sooner rather than later given the current state of the team’s starting rotation.


    Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Daniel Norris quietly has emerged as one the game’s better left-handed pitching prospects this year thanks to a mechanical adjustment he made late last season, as the 21-year-old is already on his second level this season after a promotion from High- to Double-A in mid-June.

    Given his overwhelming success at both stops and the Blue Jays' chances of winning the AL East this season, it’s not crazy to think the organization might challenge the left-hander with a call-up later this summer. However, a debut at some point next season probably is more realistic.


    Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox

    ETA: Late 2014

    Owens, a 6’6” left-hander, has continued to both avoid and miss barrels at Double-A Portland this season—as he does so well when his secondary pitches are sharp—and, in my opinion, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Owens, 21, doesn’t reach the major leagues before the end of the season. With a mostly veteran starting rotation, it’d be wise of the Red Sox to start getting their young arms acclimated to the major leagues this year.


    Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Braden Shipley, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has already received a promotion to High-A Visalia, and he should continue to move up the ladder in a hurry thanks to his power arsenal and hugely underrated feel for pitching.

    Much like the Dodgers, Orioles and Tigers, Arizona doesn’t mess around with its pitching prospects (think Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs). So expect Shipley, as long as he stays healthy, to get to the majors sometime during the 2015 season.


    Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

    ETA: Late 2014

    Noah Syndergaard's performance at Triple-A Las Vegas this season has been up and down, as he's maintained solid strikeout and walk rates but has also been knocked around at times in the Pacific Coast League. As long as the 21-year-old’s minor elbow injury from last month is a non-issue moving forward, he should still make his highly anticipated debut with the Mets in late 2014, despite the organization’s best efforts to temper expectations.


    Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

    ETA: Mid-2015

    Even though Stephenson, 21, has held his own this season at Double-A Pensacola, the right-hander has shown varying command from start to start, and he has run into trouble when working up in the zone with his explosive fastball. There’s no denying that Stephenson’s pure stuff gives him impact potential, but don’t expect the Reds to call on him this season unless they’re in a serious bind due to injuries.


    Jake Thompson, RHP, Detroit Tigers

    ETA: Late 2015

    Moved up to High-A Lakeland for the 2014 season, Thompson, 20, has thrived against advanced hitters in the Florida State League and will likely get a taste of Double-A before the season ends.

    If he handles the Eastern League as he did the FSL, then it’s possible the Tigers—an organization known for getting its top pitching prospects to the major leagues ahead of schedule—will audition him at the highest level at some point next season.

World: Pitchers

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    Alfonso Alcantara, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

    ETA: 2016

    Currently making his full-season debut at Low-A Burlington, Alfonso Alcantara, 21, is the kind of raw, hard-throwing prospect who may take years to figure things out in the minor leagues, at least as a starter.

    However, the Angels also could decide to expedite Alcantara’s upper-90s fastball to the major leagues by moving the right-hander to the bullpen. If that’s how it eventually goes down, then Alcantara could be ready to debut in late 2015/early 2016.


    Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins

    ETA: Late 2015

    The Twins are known for slowly developing their better pitching prospects, as they tend to make sure the player receives the right amount of experience before challenging him at a more advanced level. That said, Berrios, who was recently promoted to Double-A, is potentially a special talent and could possibly jump on the fast track to the major leagues next season should the Twins emerge as playoff contenders.


    Edwin Escobar, LHP, San Francisco Giants

    ETA: Late 2014

    Escobar, a 22-year-old left-hander with a good command profile and the potential for three average-or-better offerings at maturity, hasn’t progressed this season as expected—which is easier said than done in the Pacific Coast League—but he’s still the Giants’ closest-to-the-majors pitching prospect and likely to get the call at some point during the second half of the season.


    Domingo German, RHP, Miami Marlins

    ETA: Late 2016

    German, 21, finally is making his full-season debut this year after four strong seasons between the Rookie and Short Season levels, which makes it difficult to project his future timeline. However, the Marlins' recent history of challenging their better pitching prospects could lead to German moving up the organizational ladder and reaching the major leagues earlier than expected.


    Tayron Guerrero, RHP, San Diego Padres

    ETA: 2015

    The only reliever to make a Futures Game roster, Guerrero, a 23-year-old right-hander, is only in his first full professional season, but his ability to consistently miss bats and induce weak contact could have him in the Padres’ big league bullpen by next season.


    Jorge Lopez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

    ETA: 2017

    Lopez may be enjoying a breakout performance this season at High-A Brevard County, but the highly projectable right-hander is still somewhat of a project with a large gap between his present ability and overall potential. The Brewers aren’t known for rushing their pitching prospects, so don’t expect to see the 21-year-old in the major leagues before the 2017 season.


    Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

    ETA: Debuted with Rays in 2013

    Even though Romero pitched well in a spot start for the Rays late last season, the 23-year-old left-hander is still more of a thrower than a pitcher, as he’ll struggle to repeat a consistent release point and in turn miss his spots both inside and outside the zone. He should return to the majors at some point this season, but not before he shows improved control and a more consistent third pitch.


    Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees

    ETA: Late 2016

    Severino, 20, has seen his stock take off this year thanks to a dominant showing at Low-A Charleston to begin the season and now at High-A Tampa after a recent promotion. Though he’s undersized at 6’0”, 195 pounds, the right-hander’s impressive command of an electric three-pitch mix gives him undeniable impact potential at any level. Severino could be ready to debut at some point next season if he continues to develop and move up the ladder at his current pace.


    Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    ETA: Late 2015

    Julio Urias isn’t your average pitching prospect, so don’t expect the Dodgers to treat him as such. The 17-year-old left-hander, who’s currently holding his own in the High-A California League, is a safe bet to reach the major leagues as a teenager, with the only question being whether it happens when he’s 18 (2015) or 19 (2016).