The prospect ETA game is a tough one to gauge. With injuries, uncertain Super Two dates, and varying front office opinions with regard to “readiness”, there are simply too many variables involved that are impossible to predict for. When commenters task me with an ETA question, my answer is a guess, and I’m almost always way off. Yet, people keep asking. So, in an effort to put your impatient minds at ease, today we’ll be running though some notable ETA’s, and I’m going to get specific with my guesses. If my usual vague “mid-season-ish” response is crap anyway, then why not pin these down to the day and spice things up? Here we go:
Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals — ETA: May 20th
Allen Craig, who’ll be asked to play right field most days, probably won’t make it through the first two weeks of April before landing on the DL. News of an injury to Craig will send us all scurrying to the waiver wire to add Taveras, but the Cardinals will explore the possibility of using Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos as everyday guys before summoning Oscar. Also feeding into this decision is the fact that Taveras, himself, has had a hard time staying healthy over the past year. St. Louis will want to see a sustained stretch of healthy Triple-A production from their prized prospect before they’re comfortable using him in the bigs. But when the calendar rolls into mid-May, and Craig (or Holliday, or Adams) is on the shelf, and the Cards are losing ground to the Pirates in the Central, the wait will be over.
Javier Baez, SS, Cubs — ETA: May 2nd
With certain prospects, talent supersedes Super Two concerns. That was the case with Bryce Harper and Jose Fernandez, and it could be the case with Oscar Taveras. Javy Baez falls into that category too. Baez will spend a month at Triple-A Iowa, and during that month, he’s going to punish baseballs. He also might spend some time getting more comfortable at second base. And when May comes around, and the weather begins to warm in Chicago, and Baez already has 10 long balls in Pacific Coast League play, the Cubs will stir up some excitement at Wrigley with a call-up of the extreme high-impact variety.
George Springer, OF, Astros — ETA: June 24th
The Astros are in rebuild mode, and they’ll continue their frugal ways until they’ve returned to relevance. Being so, I expect Houston to be sensitive to Springer’s service time, leaving him in the minors until the presumed Super Two deadline has safely passed. Late June figures to be a good guess on that end.
Archie Bradley, RHP, D’Backs — ETA: June 9th
Arizona will wait as long as they can on Bradley, doing their best to bring him up after the Super Two window, but being a playoff hopeful, they won’t have the luxury of gauging that cutoff with the same caution as Houston. In the meantime, Bradley will gain valuable developmental experience at Triple-A, where he’ll have the opportunity to refine his command versus seasoned upper levels hitters. In Bradley’s case, I see a similar path the bigs as the one we saw with Gerrit Cole last summer.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates — ETA: July 18th
Having played in only 70 upper levels games, Polanco won’t be rushed to Pittsburgh. The Pirates will get everything they can out of Jose Tabata for the first half of the season, allowing Polanco time to rack up some enormous MiLB numbers so that he may surface in the bigs with Puig-like confidence. A call-up just after the All-Star break should give the 22-year-old sufficient time to find his comfort zone in the majors, and offer some serious contributions down the stretch and into the playoffs for the Pirates.