Good Sunday morning gang!!! The weather forecast remains unseasonably cool and rainy here in the south, but it’s having little effect on many of us who look forward to this time of year regardless of what Mother Nature has in store. It’s only been a couple of days since the unofficial second half started but the MLB non-waiver trade deadline looms, the days seem to flash by in minutes, and every baseball nut everywhere barely looks outside to see if the sun is shining since they’re too busy refreshing Twitter, MLBTR, and every other information source they can find on the internets. The deals are coming, the playoff races are changing, and the prospects are rising – seemingly quicker than the sun.
Here’s our weekly Sunday Twelve-Pack – our peek at prospects who may be taking another step up their ladder as they climb towards The Show (including my thoughts on Taylor Lindsey, the prime piece acquired by the Padres this weekend) These are twelve players to keep your eye on as someone you can potentially expect to see a promotion to the next level soon as paths become cleared when deals are made and performances simply can’t be ignored much longer.
1.) Austin Voth, RHSP, WAS
Voth spun another gem for Potomac (Hi-A) Friday night – 7 shutout IP, 1 hit allowed, 8 Ks, 1 BB – extending his scoreless inning streak to 21. The 2013 5th Rounder out of Washington has lowered his overall season line to a scary 1.75 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 110/27 K/BB Ratio over 102.1 IP while holding opposing hitters to a measly .171 BAA across two levels so far this season. The only run he’s allowed since arriving in Potomac came on a solo HR in his second start with the team. With another couple of good starts, Austin could very well force the Nats to give him a crack at AA hitters before the end of the season, and pairing him with MLB ready OF prospect Steven Souza would likely bring Washington a pretty significant bullpen and/or bench upgrade if they chose to go that route.
2.) Byron Buxton, OF, MIN
He’s back, and he’s back with bells on. After struggling a little with his timing during his first few plate appearances, Buxton has exploded – he went 9-15 with 2 HRs, 4 RBIs, and 5 runs scored from Wednesday-Friday – bringing his overall slash line up to .280/.357/.520/.877 over his first 50 2014 ABs. Look for the 20 year old to hop right back on the fast track with a promotion to AA New Britain sometime soon and an eye towards having him ready to compete for the Twins’ CF job next spring.
3.) Hunter Harvey, RHSP, BAL
Harvey delivered another dominant (if brief) outing for Lo-A Delmarva again Friday night – firing 5 innings and allowing one run on 2 hits while striking out 8 (and walking no one). The 19 year old is 2.8 years younger than average for SALLY League prospects and is now delivering 11.0 K/9 (101 Ks over 82.2 IP), and his WHIP is now down to 1.09 while he’s holding older hitters to an impressive .197 BAA. The Orioles aren’t going to push his innings much in the second half of his first exposure to full season ball, but Hunter might benefit from facing more advanced hitters for a bit before the call to shut him down comes.
4.) Brandon Drury, 3B, ARI
Drury has joined fellow D-Backs’ 3B prospect Jake Lamb in his push to convince Tony LaRussa to move both Aaron Hill AND Martin Prado prior to the deadline if at all possible. Over Brandon’s last 10 games through Friday he slashed .395/.429/.789/1.218, bringing his overall season numbers with Hi-A Visalia to .295/.359/.518/.877 with 32 2Bs, 1 3B, 19 HRs, 71 RBIs, and a solid 34/68 BB/K Ratio over 380 ABs. The former 2010 13th Round pick has quickly separated himself as the best player in the prospect haul Arizona received (with Prado) in the Justin Upton to Atlanta deal.
5.) Tyler Glasnow, RHSP, PIT
Pay attention Neal Huntington – that knock on your door that has been getting a little louder each week is quickly turning into a fist banging on your door. Glasnow made 2 starts this week (11.1 shutout IP, allowing 10 hits while striking out 14 and only walking 2), and has now gone 6-1 in his last 10 starts at Hi-A Bradenton with a 67/21 K/BB Ratio and only 33 hits (1 HR) allowed over 53.1 IP. He’s around the plate much more than he has been in the past, but has lowered his BAA to .177 which is the best among qualified minor league SPs. Time for a reward and a new challenge.
6.) Carlos Rodon, LHSP, CHW
White Sox’ VP Kenny Williams and GM Rick Hahn more or less laid out the strategy to move the 2014 #3 overall pick quickly through their system, announcing that Rodon will only be used out of the pen for the rest of the season. This mirrors the roadmap the organization used with Ace Chris Sale – using what few available innings he has left to challenge him with more advanced hitters and an eye toward giving him a chance to compete for a rotation spot when camp opens next spring. He’s been sent to make a couple of appearances in the AZL, and should be facing Hi-A hitters by the end of the month. Like Sale, he could be pitching out of the Sox’ pen before the sun sets on the season in which he was drafted.
7.) Trea Turner, SS, SDP
Much like his NC State teammate (Rodon), 2014 First Round pick (#13 overall) Turner is on the fast track to The Show. Although he wasn’t particularly impressive while getting his feet wet the Padres’ brass decided to challenge Turner early with a promotion to Low-A Fort Wayne, and he responded with a hot week – slashing .455/.520/.682/1.202 with 3 2Bs, 1 3B, and 3 SBs in his first 5 games (through Friday). The Padres have the worst offense in the game at the MLB level, and are looking for ANYONE that can hit. Everth Cabrera has regressed significantly during the first half of the 2014 season, and he could be hearing Turner’s footsteps behind him late next season if something doesn’t change quickly.
8.) Clint Coulter, C, MIL
The Brewers have time to let 2012 First Rounder (#27 overall) Coulter’s defense continue improving with All-Star Jonathon Lucroy entrenched behind the plate at Miller Park, but he needs a bigger challenge to help his bat develop. He went 6-14 with 2 bombs (and 7 BBs) this week for Lo-A Wisconsin, bringing his season slash line to .265/.401/.509/.910 with 19 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 16 HRs, and a 55/72 BB/K Ratio in 291 ABs. The 20 year old has allowed 12 passed balls in 2014, but he’s also thrown out 27% of runners attempting to steal on him.
9.) JaCoby Jones, SS, PIT
Drafted as a 2B out of LSU (2013 3rd Round), the Pirates have been playing Jones as a SS at Lo-A West Virginia. Only time will tell whether he has the glove to stick there, but he’s answered any questions about his bat so far. Through Friday’s games Jones has battered SALLY League pitching, slashing .297/.363/.500/.863 with 15 2Bs, 1 3B, 16 HRs, and 15 SBs in 320 ABs. His pitch recognition and approach need to improve (95 Ks with only 26 BBs), but he’s been on fire over his last 10 games – .368/.419/.632/1.050. There’s no need to be overly aggressive with Jones since the Pirates have Neil Walker currently manning 2B in PNC Park and SS prospect Alen Hanson ahead of him at Altoona (AA), but a shift to 3B could be in order in the event the Pirates decide to let Pedro Alvarez leave in a future cost-cutting move.
10.) Jen-Ho Tseng, RHSP, CHC
Don’t worry Cubs fans – while most of the rest of the baseball world is growing tired of talking about the hitters, there actually are other players in the system worth discussing. The organization signed the Taiwanese right-hander last July, and aggressively assigned the 19 year old to Lo-A Kane County to start this season. He’s responded nicely and threw 6 shutout innings at Lansing Friday night, allowing 1 hit while striking out 3 and walking one. His last 10 starts (53 IP) have resulted in a .187 BAA and 2.38 ERA with a 50/8 K/BB Ratio. It’s entirely too early to pencil him into the 2016 Opening Day rotation at Wrigley, but the early returns look promising.
11.) Taylor Lindsey, 2B, SDP
The biggest chip the Padres received in the Huston Street deal had plateaued somewhat in the Angels’ system – Lindsey was flying through the lower levels of the system until he ran into the glut of MIs in the Anaheim lineup the last couple of seasons. That crowded situation proved beneficial for Jean Segura when he was shipped to the Brewers as part of the Zack Greinke package, and the Padres hope the same type of change of scenery will kick start Lindsey again. Taken 37th overall in the 2010 draft, Taylor was named the 2011 Pioneer League MVP, a 2012 California League Postseason All-Star, named to both the 2013 Midseason and Postseason Texas League All-Star squads, and had an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League.
12.) James Ramsey, OF, STL
Ramsey is seemingly buried at the back of the line of Cardinals’ OF prospects even with Oscar Taveras on the MLB roster – the 2014 Futures Game replacement for Marco Gonzales still finds himself stalled at AA Springfield with Steven Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Shane Robinson, and Tommy Pham blocking any upward movement for the 2012 #23 overall pick. While the talent the Cardinals’ machine has amassed remains impressive, they’re getting closer and closer to having some players begin to regress because they’re not being challenged. Ramsey’s slashing .306/.387/.549/.936 with 9 2Bs, 1 3B, 13 HRs, and a 25/49 BB/K Ratio and is too old (and polished) for AA baseball. If John Mozeliak continues to hoard the guys the Cards have ahead of him, look for Ramsey to be included in any deals they make before the deadline.