5 High-Profile MLB Prospect Callups That Cannot Wait Until September 1
Last week's non-waiver trade deadline opened doors for some prospects.
The St. Louis Cardinals' decision to trade Allen Craig to the Boston Red Sox cleared room for highly touted prospect Oscar Taveras, who previously was splitting time with the slumping Allen Craig in right field.
Similarly, the trade that sent Kendrys Morales to Seattle helped make room for switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas in Minnesota. The switch-hitter went 5-for-16 with four RBI in the Twins' three-game weekend series against the White Sox.
Meanwhile, Boston’s trades of Jon Lester and John Lackey will allow the team to audition some of its younger arms during the final two months of the regular season, which it started to do over the weekend with right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who impressed in his MLB debut against the Yankees Friday night.
But when it comes to Sept. 1 roster expansions, it’s important to remember that it only applies to players on a team’s 40-man roster and, more so, that every spot on a 40-man roster is valuable. Therefore, just because a guy is playing out of his mind in the high minors, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get a taste of The Show before the end of the season.
With that being said, here are five prospects who deserve to be promoted before Sept. 1.
Jacob Lindgren, LHP, New York Yankees
Jacob Lindgren was one of college baseball’s better relievers this spring at Mississippi State, and his ability to miss bats at a high rate and potentially reach the major leagues in a hurry led to his selection by the New York Yankees in the second round (No. 55 overall) of this year’s draft.
After a one-inning, warm-up outing in the Gulf Coast League, the 21-year-old left-hander has allowed one run on four hits in 12.1 innings between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, striking out 28 batters compared to four walks. During that span, Lindgren has struck out three or more batters in five of his six outings.
Overall, Lindgren owns a 0.68 ERA, .120 BAA and 30-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13.1 professional innings. The southpaw has the kind of pure stuff to make an impact out of the Yankees bullpen before the end of the season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's moved up to Double-A Trenton any day now.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
After getting his first taste of Double-A late last season, Lindor has excelled on both sides of the ball this year, despite being one of the youngest everyday players in the Eastern League. In addition to his trademark defensive prowess at shortstop, Lindor, 20, is once again hitting for both average and modest power, reaching base at a high rate thanks to plate discipline that exceeds his years and stealing bases with efficiency.
In 88 games at Double-A Akron this season, he batted .278/.352/.389 with 22 extra-base hits, 48 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a 61-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
It's long been believed that the Cleveland Indians would promote Lindor to the major leagues at some point late in the season. Well, after trading Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals, the Indians made a corresponding move with promoting Lindor to Triple-A, suggesting that his debut could be coming sooner rather than later.
He's set to take over for Cabrera at shortstop full time in 2015, so it makes sense for the Indians to have the youngster get his feet wet in the major leagues over the final months of the season.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Though his performance at Triple-A Rochester this season has been inconsistent at times, it's clear that Alex Meyer has little left to prove in the minor leagues.
Meyer, 24, has held opposing hitters to a paltry .216 batting average this season while posting a 10.3 K/9 in 112 innings. The right-hander’s command still needs some refinement, hence the career-worst 4.4 BB/9, as he’ll get hit around when working up in the zone with his fastball (less of an issue at Target Field), but it’s time for the Twins to turn him loose on major league hitters and see what he can do.
Furthermore, Meyer has pitched really well as of late, with a 1.77 ERA and 45-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 50.2 innings spanning his last seven starts for Rochester.
D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, Seattle Mariners
Regarded as the most advanced college hitter in the 2013 draft class, D.J. Peterson’s mature approach and potential for plus hit and power tools already have him moving quickly through the Mariners’ system.
The 22-year-old was promoted to Double-A Jackson in late June after posting a .997 OPS with 18 home runs and 73 RBI in 65 games at High-A High Desert. Meanwhile, the challenges associated with the more advanced level haven’t cut into his production, as he’s batted .262/.324/.460 with six home runs, seven doubles and 19 RBI in 32 games since arriving at Jackson.
If it seems crazy to think that the Mariners would promote Peterson to the major leagues at this point in his career, just remember that the team called up catcher Mike Zunino in June of his first full professional season. Meanwhile, Peterson's bat would represent an obvious upgrade at first base over the likes of Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak.
Jake Lamb, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jake Lamb, 23, enjoyed a breakout 2013 campaign in the California League, posting a .982 OPS with 33 extra-base hits in 64 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks moved him up to Double-A Mobile for 2014 but not before working with him on his swing, lowering his hands so as to create more natural lift.
The results tell the story. In 103 games at Mobile, Lamb batted .318/.399/.551 with a career-high 14 home runs and 35 doubles to go along with 79 RBI. At the time of his recent promotion to Triple-A Reno, he ranked first in the Southern League in several offensive categories, including batting average, OPS, RBI (79) and total bases (206).
The Diamondbacks have a vacancy at third base after trading Martin Prado to the Yankees, and there’s no doubt that Lamb is the team's future at the hot corner. Therefore, if he gets off to a hot start at Reno—which he should considering the hitter-friendly nature of the Pacific Coast League—I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the major leagues before Sept. 1.