Now is a big time of year for teams to bring some of their top prospects to the Majors. Teams in the hunt (like the Dodgers) could look for a little boost while struggling teams (like the Cubs) want to see if their youngsters could be a factor in 2013. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent callups and determine if they may hold value the rest of the way:
Jerry Sands – Los Angeles Dodgers – First Baseman/Outfielder
Yesterday the Dodges recalled Jerry Sands and, while he has struggled in prior stints in the Majors (.248, 4 HR and 27 RBI in 218 AB), there is plenty of reason for optimism. I know it is the Pacific Coast League, but Sands was raking at Triple-A prior to being called up hitting .476 with 6 HR and 21 RBI over his previous 10 games. Hitting friendly environment or not, those are scorching hot numbers.
The Dodgers also have a gaping hole in their lineup at first base as Juan Rivera (.252, 5HR and 35 RBI over 238 AB) and James Loney (.257, 2 HR and 29 RBI over 296 AB) continue to fail. Even if you combine their stats (and Rivera has seen a lot of time in the outfield), you get poor numbers from your first baseman.
I have also seen speculation that Sands is going to platoon, only facing left-handed pitching. Maybe at the beginning, but how long can that really last? For a platoon to be effective both players need to produce and Loney is hitting just .265 with 2 HR against righties. That doesn’t make for an ideal platoon partner.
Sands, meanwhile, has hit everyone equally at Triple-A. It won’t take long for Sands to settle into the sixth spot of the order, which should offer ample RBI opportunities behind Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. Despite his previous struggles, consider Sands (who has long showed promise in the minor leagues) a good grab in all formats.
Brett Jackson – Chicago Cubs – Outfielder
I know he offers potential power and speed, as he had 15 HR and 27 SB in 407 AB at Triple-A this season. However, it comes at a major risk.
Keep in mind that over his Triple-A career he has struck out 222 times in just 592 AB. This season alone his strikeout rate was sitting at 33.8%. That is a very scary number and one that has to give you a great deal of concern.
Generally a players strikeout rate increases upon reaching the Majors and, if that were to happen, Jackson’s mark would reach astronomical highs. As it is it is impossible to imagine him hitting for a usable average. Does he have the potential to be similar to Drew Stubbs long-term? Sure, but in yearly formats he is better left alone. Potential is one thing, but there are going to be growing pains before he gets there.
Josh Vitters – Chicago Cubs – Third Baseman
I found it very interesting that he was on the bench for his first game after his recall and have heard that he could platoon with Luis Valbuena. Like with Sands, I just don’t believe that can last long.
A former first round pick, Vitters has struggled to live up to expectations prior to 2012. This season he has appeared to put it together, hitting .304 with 17 HR in 415 AB at Triple-A. The average came courtesy of a solid .337 BABIP and his 17.0% strikeout rate is not concerning.
Yes,we would like to see him draw more walks (6.6%), but beggars can’t be choosers. Yes, he did rake against lefties (.331, 7 HR in 136 AB), but it’s not like he was awful against righties (.290, 10 HR over 279 AB) and this is Luis Valbuena we are talking about.
The Cubs will want to see of Vitters can man third base in 2013 and to do that they need to play him regularly. Even if he shares time early, he will eventually get his chance. If I had to pick one of the two Cubs prospects, I would be taking Vitters.
Jean Segura – Milwaukee Brewers – Shortstop
The centerpiece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to Los Angeles, the Brewers will find out if Segura’s potential will translate to the Major Leagues. He showed a little bit of power at Double-A this season (7 HR in 404 AB), but his biggest asset is his speed. He had 37 SB in 50 attempts this season and has stolen as many as 50 in a season (2010).
He also showed a good eye at the plate this season, with a 10.8% strikeout rate and a 10.8% walk rate. Those numbers should translate to a decent average in the Majors.
The problem is, at least right now, he is hitting in the 8th spot in the order (that’s where they had him for his debut). If that’s the case, runs are going to be hard to come by and you have to wonder how many opportunities he is going to get to run.
Time will tell if he is moved up, but he’s going to be a low end option at this point (though one worth stashing).