Top MLB Prospect Call-Up Radar Report, Week 16
The 2014 season has seen a number of notable prospects receive call-ups to the major leagues. Undoubtedly, there are more to come—and soon.
Highly regarded youngsters like George Springer, C.J. Cron, Marcus Stroman, Jonathan Singleton and Gregory Polanco have been starting for their respective clubs for quite some time now. Others like Oscar Taveras, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman (no longer prospect-eligible) have been shuttling up and down between the minors and majors.
With less than a month to go until the trade deadline, there should be plenty of promotions of prime prospects once the wheeling and dealing opens up 25-man roster spots. That's just what's starting to happen with the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, who brought up infield/outfield prospect Arismendy Alcantara and right-hander Kyle Hendricks not long after trading away starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers decided that Marco Estrada had given up enough home runs as part of their rotation—his 27 homers allowed are by far the most in baseball—so they've turned to their top prospect, Jimmy Nelson. The right-hander's outing just before the All-Star break didn't go all that well, but he should get another start to bounce back.
But as was the case with Andrew Heaney of the Miami Marlins and Domingo Santana of the Houston Astros, not every call-up works out right away. Heaney, a 23-year-old left-hander, went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in his first four big league starts. Meanwhile Santana, a 21-year-old outfielder, went 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts in his initial four games. Both are back in Triple-A to work on some things.
Regardless, they could be back in the bigs soon enough, and more impact young talent will join the mix. Who will be the next to reach the major leagues? In order to predict estimated times of arrival this season, we've classified the prospects on this list using the following color-coded scale:
- Red: September call-up, at best.
- 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 16 of the 2014 MLB season.
Others on the Cusp
Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Robert Refsnyder, 2B/OF, New York Yankees
Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Alexander Guerrero, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats (Low-/High-A): 0-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 27:7 K:BB (22.2 IP)
On the path to recovery from Tommy John surgery last year, Dylan Bundy is pitching in the High-A Carolina League again, a circuit he shot through in the middle of 2012 on his way to his major league debut in his first full pro season.
While the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles might be hoping the 21-year-old can be a factor for them down the stretch, perhaps in a bullpen role like in September 2012, that might be asking for too much, too soon.
Bundy is on a strict 75-pitch limit per outing as Alejandro Zuniga of the Baltimore Sun reports, and he's looked shaky in his first three starts with Frederick, surrendering 12 runs on 15 hits in 12.1 innings and walking as many as he's whiffing (six apiece).
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 3-6, 3.94 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 82:57 K:BB (98.1 IP)
On one hand, Aaron Sanchez got a step closer to the majors when the Toronto Blue Jays pushed him, somewhat surprisingly, to Triple-A in mid-June. On the other hand, though, he doesn't look any more likely to reach the big leagues in 2014 based on his performance.
The 22-year-old has been better of late with three consecutive quality starts for Buffalo, but his numbers (4.18 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 1.4:1 K:BB) are reminiscent of what he was doing at Double-A (3.82, 1.39, 1.5:1).
Still, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos recently told Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star, "I think we can call [Sanchez] up at any time." And Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently reported that Sanchez could be in consideration for a bullpen role as a way to break into the bigs.
After leading the AL East from late May until early July, the Jays went through a rough patch just before the break and may be looking to shake things up a bit in order to try to get back to the postseason for the first time since 1993 by taking a very winnable division.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 7-4, 5.31 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 82:23 K:BB (79.2 IP)
Noah Syndergaard's season has been a bit more challenging than the New York Mets might have anticipated, considering they were planning (or at least hoping) he would make his debut at some point around mid-June.
When the 21-year-old wasn't dealing with a bout of elbow soreness or an injured shoulder from a collision at home plate, he was struggling to be consistent on the mound. That's understandable, given that he's in a very difficult pitching environment, namely Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League.
But Syndergaard still has time to get back on track and earn a promotion. He looked good in his last Triple-A start (7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8:0 K:BB), and then he got the save in the Futures Game over the weekend by notching a strikeout in his inning (highlight above).
A few more solid turns—and perhaps the Mets trading Bartolo Colon, who is available, per Adam Rubin of ESPN New York—and Syndergaard would be in position for a handful of big league starts.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 7-3, 2.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 83:16 K:BB (80.2 IP)
As mentioned in the intro, Andrew Heaney's initial taste of the majors wasn't so sweet, as he put up a 6.53 ERA through four starts. That doesn't mean he's some massive failure who'll never get back to the Miami Marlins again.
In fact, the 23-year-old remains a candidate for another call-up in September, if not sooner. Why? Well, the Marlins lost four straight to wrap up the first half, putting them six games under .500 and in fourth place in the NL East.
In other words, they're starting to drop out of the playoff race, which means they could consider re-exposing Heaney to big league hitters under less pressurized circumstances in preparation for the opportunity to win a rotation spot next spring.
Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats (Double-/Triple-A): 6-4, 4.65 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 85:28 K:BB (93.0 IP)
Between pitchers struggling (Eric Stults and his 4.98 ERA) and/or getting injured (Andrew Cashner, Josh Johnson, Robbie Erlin, etc.), Matt Wisler doesn't have much between him and San Diego anymore.
Although the 21-year-old's performance since getting bumped to Triple-A hasn't been great—he's got a 5.86 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League—the Padres might consider their top pitching prospect for a call-up to a more pitcher-friendly place (i.e., Petco Park).
That possibility would become even more real if Ian Kennedy gets traded this month, which is looking likely considering the Padres are listening to offers on the veteran right-hander, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Stats (Triple-A): .324/.445/.572, 61 R, 34 XBH (17 HR), 43 RBI, 20 SB, 101:63 K:BB (355 PA)
Joc Pederson has shown he's fully recovered after missing a few weeks with a separated shoulder by going 7-for-17 (.412) in five games since returning. That's good news for him and the Los Angeles Dodgers, considering that the only thing standing between Pederson and his big league debut might be the trade deadline.
If the Dodgers can unload one of their three overpriced-yet-underperforming outfielders in Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford—something that would require them to eat a large chunk of the player's remaining salary—that would open the door for the 22-year-old to see some fairly regular action in center, currently occupied by Ethier and Scott Van Slyke.
The other scenario, of course, would be Pederson getting a clearer path to playing time by being moved to a different organization for a nice return. Either way, he's done about all he can do at Triple-A, and there's only one more level to climb.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 10-4, 2.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 91:44 K:BB (106.2 IP)
Veteran right-hander Jake Peavy, a pending free agent, is a piece that's likely to be moved to a contender in need of rotation depth, per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. That would create an opening in the Boston Red Sox's five-man, which remains rather fluid outside of Jon Lester and John Lackey. That could give Anthony Ranaudo a chance.
The 24-year-old former first-rounder (2010) has been very consistent and healthy this year—two aspects he's struggled with in the past. In fact, he's given up more than three earned runs in an outing only once since mid-April.
The Red Sox have other young right-handed options from which to choose (think: Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes), but with the season Ranaudo's having—not to mention the disappointing one the Red Sox are—he's bound to debut at some point in the second half.
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 0-0, 6.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 5:2 K:BB (3.0 IP)
Despite experiencing fits and starts and fits again during his recovery from a shoulder and left lat strain, James Paxton appears to finally be on the right track to returning to the Seattle Mariners.
Upon making it through a 53-pitch simulated game session over the weekend, the 25-year-old is set to throw a rehab outing Thursday, July 17, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com.
Provided Paxton, who looked so good in two April starts before the injury, doesn't have any more setbacks along the way, he could be helping the M's by early August.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats (Triple-A): 5-4, 3.43 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 103:43 K:BB (89.1 IP)
Alex Meyer, 24, capped off a run of three straight quality starts (18.0 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 20:9 K:BB) at Triple-A by hurling an easy four-pitch inning in the Futures Game. You can watch the (very brief) highlights of Meyer pitching in his soon-to-be home park of Target Field up top.
Granted, Meyer's not on the Minnesota Twins' 40-man roster, but with the rotation in shambles outside of fairly reliable right-handers Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibons, and Kevin Correia a potential trade chip, the club should find a way to add Meyer to the 40-man and the 25-man soon enough.
Meyer's upper-90s heat and nasty slider are too good not to get a look in the very near future.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2014 Stats (High-/Double-/Triple-A): 4-1, 3.20 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 47:13 K:BB (45.0 IP)
The Mariners sent Taijuan Walker back to Triple-A just before the All-Star break, but it wasn't a demotion—it was a way to keep him fresh while MLB was on hiatus.
In that time, the 21-year-old threw 5.0 innings of four-hit, one-run ball over the weekend. Apparently, however, that wasn't good enough for Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who said the following of Walker via Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times:
I’m not trying to bash the kid, but how we go about our business and our level of expectations from the minor leagues all the way up to the big leagues, it’s got to change. Five innings, 83 pitches and one strikeout — that’s not a good outing, I’m sorry. Not for me. And you can write it. I don’t give a (expletive). I’m sure his agent will be calling mad at me, but we gotta do better.
Still, Walker is expected to be called up to start Tuesday, July 22, at home against the New York Mets. After battling a shoulder injury earlier in the year, this top prospect is going to be a key arm over the second half as the M's fight for a playoff spot.
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