by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Which prospects are on the verge of making an impact in the Major Leagues? This weekly column will rank the ten who are closest (as well as other names that are being closely considered). Keep in mind that while talent is factored in opportunity plays a major role, so there may be some “lesser” prospects who rank fairly highly on the list (please note all stats are through Sunday and the number in parenthesis is the ranking from last week):
1) Amed Rosario – New York Mets – Shortstop (3)
With all the talk of how poor the Mets infield defense has been and the team having little reason to continue rolling the likes of Jose Reyes out there every day, a promotion for Rosario should be imminent (should is the key word here, as most would argue it should’ve come weeks ago). Viewed as a plus defender, he also has little left to prove at the dish. Currently hitting .327 with 7 HR (as well as 16 doubles and 7 triples) and 16 SB, including hitting .378 over his past 10 games and a 15.5% strikeout rate, and the time has come for his arrival. If he’s not up right after the All-Star Break, you would think it wouldn’t be long after.
2) Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox – Third Baseman (1)
We continue to wait and see if the Red Sox will decide to give Devers his shot or if they will go outside the organization to acquire an upgrade. Even with the “improvement” from the players at the position, Boston third baseman are slashing .235/.287/.338 on the season, with the SLG being the second worst in the league (San Francisco third basemen own a .324 SLG). Sure you could argue that the team is winning despite the play there, but if you have an upgrade (or can upgrade the spot) why wouldn’t you?
You can argue that Devers isn’t a fit at Double-A anymore (with Michael Chavis there), and both Pablo Sandoval and Jhonny Peralta are providing depth at Triple-A (if they haven’t been summoned yet, we can’t argue that they will be). For a franchise that has been aggressive before, there’s reason to believe that the 20-year old will be promoted directly from Double-A. Hitting .300 with 18 HR at Double-A, and with only 55 K vs. 31 BB over 287 AB, there’s reason to believe that he can hit the ground running.
3) Lewis Brinson – Milwaukee Brewers – Outfielder (NR)
Domingo Santana has been red hot of late, but with Ryan Braun banged up again and Keon Broxton scuffling (.069 in July) there’s a good chance that Brinson returns to the Majors soon. He’s been red hot of late, hitting .390 over his past 10 games, and more importantly has just 5 K over 41 AB over this stretch.
He struggled with strikeouts in his brief time in the Majors (37.1% over 35 PA), but at 19.5% at Triple-A that shouldn’t be an issue. Couple that with his potential to produce both power (10 HR, 31 total extra base hits) and speed (10 SB), he’s an extremely intriguing option upon his return.
4) Derek Fisher – Houston Astros – Outfielder (4)
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he struggled upon being returned to Triple-A, though he has begun hitting again and has obviously been a productive player all year long (.306 with 19 HR and 14 SB). There also is an obvious potential opening in the Houston outfield, considering a pair of players struggling in July:
- Nori Aoki – .188/.350/.250
- Jake Marisnick – .188/.188/.313
It is a relatively small sample size, but Marisnick also struggled in June (.235/.310/.400) and Aoki should not be an impediment for Fisher’s return. It’s just a matter of time before, and while the Astros don’t necessarily need him now there’s no reason for the team not to upgrade if it’s available to them.
5) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox – Second Baseman (2)
Every time we do these updates we highlight the same questions when it comes to Moncada:
- Can he cut down on the strikeouts (28.1%)
- Can he provide extra base hits besides home runs (9 doubles, 3 triples, 11 HR)
Until he gets those things under control there’s a good chance he remains pinned at Triple-A, despite being part of a team that desperately needs help at second base. His upside is arguably the highest of any prospect in the game, which keeps his value among the best, he needs to earn his way to the Majors.
6) Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – Starting Pitcher (NR)
We continue to wait and see which White Sox’ pitcher will get the first call, but considering these ERA numbers of late it’s clear they need some help (and maybe that leads to both Lopez & Lucas Giolito joining the mix):
- June – 5.21 (fifth worst in MLB)
- July – 7.11 (worst in MLB)
Lopez, who has had some struggles, has appeared to right the ship in his past three starts (18.2 IP) as he allowed 4 ER on 18 H and 3 BB, striking out 21. If he can maintain this type of production for another start or two he’s going to return and potentially infuse life into the Chicago rotation.
7) Steven Brault – Pittsburgh Pirates – Starting Pitcher (7)
He continues to show all of the skills that we look for from a starting pitcher, with an 8.40 K/9, 3.15 BB/9 and 52.0% groundball rate over 94.1 IP at Triple-A. Many are going to be scared off by last season’s miserable time in the Majors (4.86 ERA, 1.86 WHIP), but let that play to your advantage. While he’s not quite as good as he’s shown (85.3% strand rate), he has the makings of a strong starter who has been firing on all cylinders (he’s allowed 2 ER or fewer in 12 straight starts, with 1 ER or fewer in 10 of those).
It’s possible that Tyler Glasnow gets the first shot in the rotation, especially with a 1.84 ERA and 49 K over 29.1 IP at Triple-A. Of course he’s also walked 15 batters and allowed 3 HR, so there’s still issues he needs to work on. Trevor Williams is the obvious starter who could be replaced for the Pirates, and it all comes together for Brault getting a second opportunity.
8/8a) Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies – First Baseman (NR) // Dominic Smith – New York Mets – First Baseman (NR)
Maybe this is a bit of a cop out, but both players are in a similar situation as they await a trade off the MLB roster to open an opportunity so we’ll lump them together. That said, if we had to bet on one getting the call first it would be Hoskins (as we can envision the Phillies simply sitting down Tommy Joseph, where the Mets likely won’t do the same to Lucas Duda until September if at all).
For his part Hoskins has been a beast at Triple-A, hitting .289 with 20 HR while showing excellent plate discipline (14.8% strikeout rate, 13.1% walk rate). Those numbers would play quite nicely in Philadelphia, and could quickly put him in the middle of the lineup (whereas the Mets would like start Smith hitting towards the bottom).
9) Miguel Andujar – New York Yankees – Third Baseman (6)
The Yankees continue to cycle through first baseman, and barring an acquisition (which remains possible, despite the team sliding badly) you have to think that sooner or later Chase Headley will slide across the diamond to free up third base for Andujar. He had a rousing MLB debut, and maybe the disappointment of being returned to Triple-A has led to his struggles (.200 with 1 HR in July). Even with his stumbles he’s struck out just 6 times in 35 AB and it should be just a matter of time before he finds his grove once again.
10) Chance Adams – New York Yankees – Starting Pitcher (9)
The Yankees’ starting pitching looked like a strength early in the season, though the wheels have completely fallen off of late. Yankees’ pitchers as a group own a 5.91 ERA in July (fourth worst in the league), with the team’s best starting pitcher owning a 4.66 ERA (Jordan Montgomery). No starter has made more than two starts, but considering the struggles of the team in general there could be change coming quickly.
Splitting time between Double and Triple-A (17 starts) he’s compiled a 1.94 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 92.2 IP. His control has been good enough (BB/9 of 3.86 and 3.43), though it’s unspectacular, and he also could face home run issues pitching in Yankee Stadium (groundball rates of 40.0% and 42.0%). Those two things are going to cap his upside, and keep him suppressed on these rankings, though the potential to produce is there.
Others Worth Watching:
- Zack Burdi – Chicago White Sox – Relief Pitcher
- Ronald Guzman – Texas Rangers – First Baseman
- Brent Honeywell – Tampa Bay Rays – Starting Pitcher
- Ryan McMahon – Colorado Rockies – Third Baseman
- Francisco Mejia – Cleveland Indians – Catcher
Fell Off The Rankings:
- Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves – Second Baseman (5)
- Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies – Second Baseman (8)
- Alex Verdugo – Los Angeles Dodgers – Outfielder (10)
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: