Another week completed, another step closer to excitement for prospect-watchers waiting impatiently for the next round of call-ups, and the ultimate “Christmas In July” for prospect-hounds across the globe as we get to spend the day with the ultimate showcase – the Futures Game. In honor of this great event, this week’s Minor Accomplishments Sunday Twelve-Pack will include several players that will be participating in the game, as well as some that would’ve been at Target Field for it (yes, I’m looking at you Arismendy Alcantara, Jimmy Nelson, and Christian Bethancourt).
The All-Star Break is upon us, the playoff picture’s beginning to come into focus for several teams that were “on the fence” a week ago, and trades completed over the next three weeks will lead to many more openings for prospects to get a look at the MLB level, as well as advancement opportunities for players further down each organizational pecking order.
1.) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, CHC
OK Cubs fans, you now have the answer to “When is he coming up?” Called up for “a couple of days” when Darwin Barney was placed on the Paternity Leave List last week, he may well be here to stay. The butterflies may have gotten to him a little bit Thursday (0-4 with 2 Ks), but he rebounded well and has gone 7-14 (against SPs Homer Bailey, Alex Wood, and Mike Minor) with 2 2Bs, 1 3B, and 3 RBIs with 5 runs scored since. Will he stay at 2B long-term? Who Knows? He’s made it pretty clear he needs to be in the Cubs’ lineup instead of several players though.
2.) Jimmy Nelson, RHSP, MIL
Nelson made his second career start yesterday against St. Louis, and may well have missed his golden opportunity to cement a spot in the rotation for good (lasting 4.1 IP, while giving up 8 hits and 6 ER to a Cardinals’ lineup without Yadier Molina that had one player hitting .300). Rule V pick Wei-Chung Wang was placed on the DL and Marco Estrada has been moved from the rotation to the pen to create room for Nelson, and Ron Roenicke admitted “Even though Marco’s pitched, we think, better the last four games, Jimmy was making it impossible for us to keep him down there.” before Saturday’s debacle.
3.) Christian Bethancourt, C, ATL
The only question the Braves brass wanted answered about Bethancourt’s readiness was whether he was going to hit enough. Question answered – he was heating up at Gwinnett before being called up to fill-in when Evan Gattis went on the DL, and he hasn’t been overmatched since, slashing .275/.310/.300 with a 2B and a couple of clutch hits. Even though he’s an elite defender behind the plate, there won’t be any controversy when Gattis returns – his bat is too valuable to the Braves for him to sit more than he already was – but Bethancourt’s performance has at least had to make Frank Wren consider shopping Gerald Laird. He won’t because the only way Christian’s bat improves is with consistent ABs, but Bethancourt will be in Atlanta for good next April for sure.
4.) Alex Meyer, RHSP, MIN
Is he “ready”? That depends on your definition. Meyer’s control struggles continue (and likely always will to some extent), but he absolutely toys with AAA hitters at times – leading to a 3.43 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .230 BAA and 103 Ks in 89.1 IP so far at Rochester. 43 BBs over that period is what gives the Twins the opportunity to continue using the company line about not being a “finished product” just yet, but he’s now strung together three consecutive starts of at least 6 IP with 4 hits allowed or less. If he hadn’t issued 9 free passes in those starts, he’d likely be in Minneapolis already.
5.) Domingo Santana, OF, HOU
The former Phillies’ farmhand (acquired along with Jonathon Singleton, Jared Cosart, and Josh Zeid in the Hunter Pence fleecing) could soon become the last piece of the organization’s 2011 deadline haul added to the Astros’ 25-Man Roster. He still strikes out more than the brass would like, but they’ve shown the willingness to let both George Springer and Jonathon Singleton to make their final adjustments under the tutelage of Bo Porter, so why not Santana? He’s slashing .299/.380/.488/.868 with 23 2Bs, 1 3B, 13 HRs and 6 SBs at AAA Round Rock, and Porter may well be more effective at honing his overall approach by providing him time to watch Jose Altuve.
6.) Blake Swihart, C, BOS
Christian Vazquez was the obvious choice for a big league promotion when the Red Sox finally pulled the plug on the “A. J. Experiment”, but Swihart’s likely going to be the long-term answer behind the plate in Beantown. Scouts have been impressed with the significant strides the 2011 1st Rounder has made both behind the plate and in his approach when he’s at it. The switch-hitter invokes comparisons to former Boston great Jason Varitek, slashing .292/.347/.470/.817 with 17 2Bs, 3 3Bs, and 9 HRs at AA Portland. Blake could be in line for a second half promotion with an eye toward giving him a shot at the big club’s job next spring.
7.) Corey Seager, SS, LAD
Seager’s coming Dodger fans, but Ned Colletti and the ownership have to quit trying to “out-Yankee” the Yankees and resist the temptation to throw a $100+ million extension offer at Hanley Ramirez to make room or he’ll become their 3B version of Joc Pederson. Hanley can’t play SS defensively (and Alexander Guerrero can), and doesn’t want to move to 3B. Juan Uribe’s signed through 2015, and Seager will be ready to step in by then. The 2012 1st Round pick is slashing .352/.411/.633/1.044 with 34 2Bs, 2 3Bs, and 18 HRs at Rancho Cucamonga (Hi-A) including .385/.479/.795/1.274 with 4 2Bs and 4 bombs over his last 10 games. There’s little doubt that he’s ready for a new challenge.
8.) Steven Souza, OF, WAS
The underrated Souza is a little older than some top prospects (he’s 25), but the Nationals have nowhere to even consider playing him now that Ryan Zimmerman’s shown a willingness to move around the diamond. He should provide GM Mike Rizzo a great trade piece at the deadline that could step in and play for someone right away. Steven’s slashing .371/.449/.607/1.056 with 20 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 13 HRs, and 21 SBs at AAA Syracuse. A bit of supposition here, but he’d appear to make a lot of sense as a potential target for Seattle.
9.) Clint Frazier, OF, CLE
While the 2013 #5 overall pick’s slash line at Lake County hasn’t been anything special (.266/.336/.419/.755) he’s been better of late, slashing .381/.435/.714/1.149 over his last 10 games with 2 2Bs and 4 homers including a monster Friday effort where he was 5-5 with 2 bombs, 3 RBIs, and a SB. The Indians aren’t likely to push him aggressively with their OF pretty well set for at least another couple of years, but this is what the organization hopes to see more of moving forward.
10.) Tyler Glasnow, LHSP, PIT
Following his outing Friday (5.2 IP, 7 hits allowed, 10 Ks, 1 BB), Glasnow’s accomplished about everything the Pirates can ask him to without promoting him. His season numbers at Hi-A Bradenton are now an impressive 1.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and .180 BAA with an 82/38 K/BB Ratio in 70.2 IP. If the Pirates will be a little aggressive with him (as they’ve shown they won’t shy from with Pitchers at times in the past) he could follow Jameson Taillon into their 2016 MLB rotation in short order (assuming Taillon bounces back from Tommy John Surgery of course), giving Pirates fans the type of young Pitching that rivals their exciting OF.
11.) Kohl Stewart, RHSP, MIN
An Alex Meyer promotion could start the ball moving for Stewart following his 6 IP, 6 hit, 1 ER, 5 K (0 BB) performance for Lo-A Cedar Rapids on Friday. The effort brings Kohl’s season numbers to 76.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 65 Hits Allowed, and a .230 BAA with a 55/23 K/BB Ratio. The 2013 #4 overall pick is only 20, but has handled himself well and the former Texas A&M QB recruit is a premium athlete who possesses 4 pitches (fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup) that have all flashed above-average at times. The Twins won’t be too aggressive with him in the overall scheme, but might consider giving him a bit of a stiffer test at some point during the second half to see how he responds – he could always begin next season back at Hi-A Fort Myers if he struggles.
12.) Julio Urias, LHSP, LAD
If you think Corey Seager’s impressive, take a look at his Rancho Cucamonga teammate Julio Urias. The Dodgers signed him away from the Mexican League in August of 2012 and have already been aggressive with his development, assigning him to Hi-A to start this season as a 17 year old. He’s responded in a big way by providing the Quakes with 52.1 innings, 58 Ks, and 25 BBs. The brass is making sure to limit his work, but he’s one of the players everybody needs to watch when he gets to make his appearance for the World Team later this afternoon.
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