The callups had seemingly slowed recently, but then we got hit with a slew of players ready to hit the ground running this weekend. Who are the must own options? Who should we ignore? Let’s prioritize this recent wave of new faces joining (or in one case returning to) the Majors:
1)Cavan Biggio – Toronto Blue Jays
We knew it was inevitable that Biggio would join Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as part of the long-term Toronto infield. The timing is a little bit surprising, as Biggio has struggled of late (.242 with 0 HR in his past 10 games, .246 with 1 HR in 65 AB in May). Even as he’s slumped he has maintained his elite approach, with 14 BB vs. 12 K in May. Couple that with a 7.6% SwStr% this season, as well as a 20/20 type pace (6 HR/5 SB), and what is there not to like?
The Blue Jays showed patience with Guerrero during his initial struggles, and there’s little doubt that they will give Biggio the same opportunity. There’s also no questioning the need, as he should offer a significant upgrade over the likes of Brandon Drury and Eric Sogard. Upside and opportunity, that’s the mix that you always want to see.
2) Kevin Cron – Arizona Diamondbacks
Throughout Cron’s career he’s seen time both at first base (38 games this season) and third base (12 games this season). Where does he fit in Arizona now? With the injuries that the team has suffered, could Christian Walker shift to the outfield to free up first base (or maybe just be replaced)? How about Eduardo Escobar moving to second base, with Ketel Marte playing the outfield and thus freeing up third base? Regardless it would be surprising if Cron had been called up not to play.
While the performance has come in the Pacific Coast League he’s still hitting .339 with 21 HR and 62 RBI over 165 AB. That’s not to say that there aren’t questions in his makeup, as he could struggle with swings and misses (12.1% SwStr% this season, though the fact that it’s an improvement over a 16.1% mark in ’18 is notable) and his fly ball-centric approach could lead to a poor BABIP (47.3% in ’18, 52.7% this season).
Those two things can’t be overlooked, though he can draw a walk (13.6% in ’19) and there’s no questioning his power. There’s enough upside potential to consider him a must add and see if you can catch lightning in a bottle.
3) Josh Naylor – San Diego Padres
In 184 AB at Triple-A Naylor was hitting .299 with 10 HR while exclusively playing a corner outfield spot (he has a history at 1B as well). There’s no questioning the potential he’s shown with the bat, especially given his 7.5% SwStr% and 11.5% walk rate. The question is where exactly does he fit on a team that already has Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Wil Myers and Manuel Margot in the outfield? Over the weekend they have the luxury of a designated hitter, as the team will be playing an interleague series against the Blue Jays, and that should open up AB.
What happens after that? Of course Myers (.228 with 7 HR and 4 SB) and Renfroe (.228 with 11 HR) have had their issues, so it’s not impossible that Naylor produces and forces his way into the lineup. Is that something we’d bet on? Probably not, but there’s enough here to at least consider the possibility.
4) Lourdes Gurriel – Toronto Blue Jays
Gurriel’s return is intriguing, especially as he’s been working in the outfield during his stint in the minors. He was awful in 13 games in the Majors this season (.175 with 0 HR), though he was hitting .274 with 4 HR over 123 PA while at Triple-A. That said he continued to struggle drawing a walk (1.6% walk rate) and his 13.2% SwStr% shows the potential for significantly more strikeouts (17.9% at Triple-A). Now consider the poor approach he’s shown in the Majors over the past two seasons (SwStr% // O-Swing%):
- 2018 – 11.9% // 39.3%
- 2019 – 14.3% // 41.8%
He’s proven capable of making consistent contact on fastballs (Whiff% of 7.35% and 10.11% over the past two seasons), but that’s about it. It’s possible he gets hot, much like he did last season, and find full-time AB as a starting outfielder. At the same time he could struggle and find himself back at Triple-A before long. There’s enough potential to roll the dice, but not enough to get overly excited.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball