Over the past few seasons, I’ve grown confident in my ability to play the timeline game along with major league front offices. This year feels different. We’re beyond what’s typically the first Super Two threshold, and I’m ready to spin the wheel, but I’m uncertain about the rules. 

Will teams slam the brakes if they didn’t promote a guy on opening day, knowing they’ll be “punished” if that player earns rookie of the year votes? 

Survey says . . . probably, if past behavior is the best predictor of future choices. 

By the way, before we go further, I should say I hope and pray some of the baseball writers know the rules enough to push good rookies up their ballots. I don’t really care about who finishes in the top five in these awards, and I think the same goes for most fans, but I want to see the players get a W at the negotiating table for the long-term health of the game, particularly where young players are concerned.

So who’s potentially stuck in this no-win position created by the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement? Let’s check the list.

 

1. Pittsburgh SS Oneil Cruz (AAA)

Your guess is as good as mine on this one, but the upside with Cruz is 20/20 this season, at least on a per-game basis if he’s not given enough games to get there this season. He’s not hitting at all in AAA, slashing .200/.294/.289 in 45 at bats. I’m not worried about it. It’s been freezing in the midwest. I suspect you’ll hear me say that again, but remember it next time someone is talking about scoring being way down this year. If you’ve never swung a wooden bat against a 90+ mph pitch on a 30-degree night, let me be the first to tell you it’s awful. The pitcher typically stays warm and loose because he’s out there working all night. Hitters are mostly just standing around getting colder and colder. I’m not saying the chill is solely responsible for every hitter’s early slump, but it’s certainly a factor. Cruz went 2-for-5 with a stolen base on Friday night, for what it’s Weurtz. 

 

2. Tampa 2B Vidal Brujan (AAA) 

In his second game back from knee soreness, Brujan got on base four times in six plate appearances and stole a base then got sent to the taxi squad. He’s likely to get called up sometime soon. His role when that happens could be minor, but he’s the kind of guy you don’t want to miss if you can help it. (Update: Brujan was recalled as I walked to the coffee shop after posting this Saturday evening. He’ll cover for Yandy Diaz, who is headed to the IL. Fingers crossed he starts hot.) 

 

3. Miami RHP Max Meyer (AAA)

Meyer has been slipperier than a hotdog slathered in catsup this season. His 0.55 WHIP and 32.1 percent strikeout minus walk rate across 14.2 innings suggest he shouldn’t be in the minors much longer. The team might prefer to slow-play it, but he’s forcing the issue.

 

4. Pittsburgh RHP Roansy Contreras (AAA) 

He’s gonna carve up these turkeys in the NL Central like Clark Griswold on Christmas.

 

5. Boston 1B Triston Casas (AAA) 

Dobby Malbec is drinking in the commissary with the other Elves before games while Casas is prepping for the Triwizard Cup in the Prefect’s bathroom. He’s hitting just .241 but has four home runs and a .373 On Base Percentage in 54 at bats. 

 

6. Baltimore RHP Grayson Rodriguez (AAA) 

We’re in the no-fun zone on this one, waiting for the Orioles to get off the pot because we all fear they won’t do shit. Rodriguez has a 0.49 WHIP through three starts and 14.1 innings at AAA. Can he force the issue with another few starts like the ones he’s had? I sure hope so, and I’m picking him up in TGFBI this Sunday because, well, screw it, kind of. I’m rostering Shane Baz, so I’ll just swap him out for the lothario’s large adult son. 

 

7. St. Louis 2B Nolan Gorman (AAA) 

Totally different situation than Grey’s son, but the same outcome for our purposes. Skill and readiness are not issues. We’re just waiting on the world to change.

 

8. Minnesota SS Royce Lewis (AAA) 

You could put Lewis as high as the one-spot here, and I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Not because I burned my eyebrows off in a product-testing accident but because Lewis looks great right now, flashing plus plate discipline along with the tools that made him the 1.1 pick out of high school in the 2017 draft. He’s hitting .309 with 2 HR and 3 SB. 

 

9. Arizona OF Alek Thomas (AAA) 

Could copy and paste pieces of the Rodriguez and Gorman blurbs here. Maybe some of the intro, too. When the Diamondbacks decided to send Thomas to AAA, were they making a half-season decision? Or could Thomas create his own opportunity by playing well? He’s slashing .279/.328/.492 with 2 HR and 1 SB through 14 games. 

 

10. Minnesota 3B Jose Miranda (AAA) 

Help! Miranda’s been better lately but isn’t locked in by any means. It’s cold though, up the north. Easy to think like a child of summer but helpful to keep contexts in mind, especially early when everything feels huge no matter how small it would seem in July. 

 

11. Los Angeles 3B Miguel Vargas (AAA) 

Might become the toughest big-league out on the list. He’s got 11 walks and 12 strikeouts in 15 games along with two home runs and a stolen base. 

 

12. Baltimore C Adley Rutschman (AAA) 

In big bold letters, Adley’s page on Fangraphs says “Rutschman isn’t expected to make his debut until late in 2021.” They’re quoting Rotowire from April 1, 2021. 

Needless to say, that blurb is out of date, as Rutschman didn’t debut last season and isn’t expected to make his debut until (quite a bit) later in 2022. No fault of his own. Just injury compounded by Baltimore being Baltimore. By the way, while we’re here, pick up closer Jorge Lopez if you get the chance. I know I besmirched his name in an article a couple weeks ago, but he’s throwing real hard right now: 97.9 mph on the sinker per statcast, 2.6 mph faster than he threw it in 2021, which was 2 mph faster than he threw in 2020. I don’t think there’s anything fluky in it. It’s just a career-long starting pitcher learning to gas it up over short stretches. 

 

13. Detroit OF Riley Greene (AAA) 

Greene painted his foot black and blue with a foul ball this spring, breaking it in the process. He remains without a timeline to return, but unlike a lot of players on this list, he won’t be held back when he’s ready to roll. 

 

14. Cubs OF Brennen Davis (AAA)

Every game the Cubs win this year increases the chances we’ll see Davis. His .716 OPS thus far isn’t pretty at first blush, but the weather in Iowa has been late-winter nasty thus far, so I’m actually a little encouraged he has eight walks and two homers in 15 games. 

 

15. Colorado 3B Elehuris Montero (AAA) 

Would be higher on the list in some alternate universe where the Rockies are run by competent, competitive people who are supported by ownership from top to bottom. 

 

The next ten: 

16. Kansas City C MJ Melendez (AAA) 

17. Seattle RHP George Kirby (AA) 

18. Texas 3B Josh Jung (AAA)

19. Toronto SS Vinny Capra (AAA) 

20. Kansas City 1B Nick Pratto (AAA) 

21. St. Louis 1B Juan Yepez (AAA)

22. Texas 2B Josh H. Smith (AAA) 

23. Cleveland RHP Daniel Espino (AA) 

24. Washington OF Josh Palacios (AAA) 

25. Cleveland SS Jose Fermin (AAA) 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 

60 Comments
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PDX Express
PDX Express
4 months ago

Itch!

Correa is hurt – think Royce gets called up? And if so, should we all pick him up? Or, does Polanco simply slide over with Miranda going to second and…. Someone going to first. Would have been nice to have seen Kirillof playing 1B this year w/ Royce at SS and Miranda and Larnach in the lineup. Thanks!

Grey
Admin
Reply to  PDX Express
4 months ago

Royce was called up

PDX Express
PDX Express
Reply to  Grey
4 months ago

Thanks Grey!

Grey
Admin
Reply to  PDX Express
4 months ago

No problem

Sorry Itch

Vash
Vash
4 months ago

How do we assess call ups this year?

Everyone is batting below .200…..

I have no idea what a decent prospect is any more. Seeing so many hit below .200 is the counting stats priority over average now?

bigbear
bigbear
5 months ago

Got some tickets to the Aberdeen Ironbirds this Saturday! Hoping to see Rutchman and DL Hall. Mayo (2 HR last night), Norby, Cowser, and Prieto (380ish flyout last night too) will be there regardless. DL Hall vs. Mick Abel is the match-up I’m hoping for!

Add Prieto to your watch list. 6 HR and some loud outs so far. Not sure about home/away splits, but Aberdeen is a pitcher’s park. SSS/A+ ball/etc., but he looks confident coming in from Cuba. Other players were talking him up a bit in spring too. Feels like a higher floor AVG guy, but his fantasy upside is based on the power developing.

Jimmy Jack James
Jimmy Jack James
5 months ago

Any point in holding Jack Leiter this year as a potential keeper for next year? Zero chance he’s up this year but feel like 2023 is possible. Downside is I need to use an active roster spot for him. Thanks!

Eli Man Penguin Boy
Eli Man Penguin Boy
5 months ago

not only that the weather impacts people differently, say esp those from central america where it’s almost never that cold, and even if it is many (all?) of them probably never played baseball in it. and for anybody to think/claim some genetic arguments (to entirely explain this) on this see how those in LA react to rain compared to almost everybody else (people in LA freak out about “oh my god there’s water falling out of the sky i can’t DRIVE (some might not even want to GO outside) in that ahhhh”). might be somewhat genetic but could just be more so regardless of somebody where they are from (and where their descendants are from) if they aren’t used to it they aren’t good at adjusting to it. for instance the middle midwest ain’t got shit on what “winter” means compared to somebody in the north CHI suburbs or north of that. our worst cold of the winter day is a normal day in northern IL or north of that. when i go to CHI (on train/bus/taxi/foot i don’t drive) in say january i got like 6 layers on, when i’m back where i’m from on public transport i’m carrying like at least half of them as once you are in sub 5 with wind (everyday) weather for a week and come back where it’s 14 (which is quite cold for where i’m from) 14 suddenly feels like around 40. and i’m western euro descent entirely (german/french/irish with an 1/8th romanian in there). walking around for say even just 10 minutes in the north CHI burbs where it’s windy almost constantly and like -5 (in the sunny daytime too, it was -28 actual temp while i was up there one night) often feels like parts of me are going to fall off, but in say MIN that’s not even that cold (seems really hardcore to me that ANYBODY’S descendants decided to intentionally live in MIN or spots like that)

Primetime
Primetime
5 months ago

Itch, great article. Bigger future CJ Abrams of Volpe Yankees? Which player has the bigger impact? Volpe has better minor league numbers for power and steals.

Jeff Graup
Jeff Graup
5 months ago

Whats the comp on Miguel Vargas and Alek Thomas?

How do u think Vargas breaks into the Dodgers lineup?

I see Alek replacing Pavin Smith in the next 2-3 weeks

OldMilwaukeePounders
OldMilwaukeePounders
5 months ago

Hey Itch!

Was just offered Oneil Cruz for my Logan Gilbert in a 12 team, 15 keeper, 5×5 roto.

My team is in year 2 of a full on rebuild. The rest of my pitching staff looks like:

Fred Peralta, Cease, Luis Castillo, Kyle Wright, Baz, GrayRod, Houck, Eovaldi, Merrill Kelly.

With a decent rest of the staff, would you move for the very tall man?

Tough one as Gilbert looks great too!

OldMilwaukeePounders
OldMilwaukeePounders
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

Thanks, Itch! I’m a Pirates fan (born in Pittsburgh) but also a Mariners fan (live in the Pacific Northwest) so it’s like having two favorite sons to pick between!

scoboticus
scoboticus
5 months ago

Got me a heapin’ helpin’ of Brujan-tality on my fantasy teams!

scoboticus
scoboticus
5 months ago

Better stash? Roansy or Trevor Bauer?

junior56
junior56
5 months ago

Mornin’ Itch! Thanks for the write up!

Yeah, it doesn’t feel like they have addressed the issue and could have potential made it worse.

Rooting for Brujan to stick this time!

What is your opinion about Masyn Winn now that the Cardinals have changed is focus from pitching to offense? Do you think there is any potential for him to develop some power? Would you pick him up and drop Hedbert?

Philip
Philip
5 months ago

Thanks for the heads up, Itch.

Esteury Ruiz is blowing up. Doing everything right. Stealing bases better than anyone in baseball and walking more than he strikes out. Yes, he’s 23 years old in AA, and it seems like he’s never produced this way before. However, his scouting reports read like this was a possibility if he got his plate discipline straightened out.

Do you have any thoughts? Are you in?

Saint
Saint
5 months ago

Awesome read The Itch!

Prospect question. Is there a site or app that you use that posts up to the minute prospect call up news? Hoping to get a jump on my league mates when arms are being called up.

Thanks,
Subscriber Barry

Saint
Saint
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

Thanks for the feedback! :)

Troy
Troy
5 months ago

Surprised Corbin Carroll is not on this list.

Lower the Jolly Roger
Lower the Jolly Roger
5 months ago

Itch ! My 10 on the farm are :

Baz
Brujan
Pratto
Moreno
Vargas
Miranda
Beer
Harris
Yepez
Gunnar
Hedbert
Greg Jones

12 teamer… Swapping any of them out for Montero? You’re the best in the biz… Thank you always

MJ888
MJ888
5 months ago

How come none of my comments are getting approved

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
5 months ago

Hey Itch!

How close is Oswald Peraza to making this list? Do you think he won’t be getting the call anytime soon, or that he won’t make much of an impact if he does?

I’ve been getting a lot of trade interest in Grayson Rodriguez. Would you hold no matter what? Trade him for an established starter like Julio Urias? I could also try to get Espino in return, do you think there is much of a gap between the two?

Thanks!

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

Thanks so much for the thoughts. I’m thinking if I include Glasnow I might be able to get Urias and Espino. Im a little hesitant to see low on Glasnow though given what he’s been at his best

MJ888
MJ888
5 months ago

Hey Itch – I have both Hassell and Carroll and may need to trade one. Which of the two is most likely to end up playing centerfield? And which possesses the better power tool?

MJ888
MJ888
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

Awesome, thanks!

MJ888
MJ888
5 months ago

What about Vinnie Pasquantino? I still find it hard to believe he isn’t viewed as the better prospect over Pratto.

MJ888
MJ888
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

Makes sense. I read somewhere that KC believes Vinnie has more athleticism than most others think. Not sure what that means for his future, but hoping we get to see him in the show (at first base) in 2022!

phennore
phennore
5 months ago

14-team 6×6 (OBP) keep forever league where we can keep 3 minor leaguers. Who gets dropped from:

Noelvi Marte
Anthony Volpe
Luis Matos
Robert Hassell

Thanks

Ray
Ray
5 months ago

Hey Itch

Thanks for the stash list as I was wondering when you were going to start this series.

Commissary? Did you live on an Air Force Base too? My father was in the Air Force stationed at McGuire AFB many years ago.

Espino was especially dominant last night, striking out 14 in 5 innings. He struck out first 11 batters before giving up a bomb to Gunnar Henderson.

Thanks for all the great work.

Ray

Roscoe Coltrain
Roscoe Coltrain
5 months ago

Always a solid piece, thanks Itch, have a great Sunday.

Gordeon
Gordeon
5 months ago

Where’s Vinnie?

MJ888
MJ888
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

You think KC may trade him? I would think if Pratto is playing the outfield that there would be room for both.

Gordeon
Gordeon
Reply to  The Itch
5 months ago

He is so much better than Pratto. Hop on the Italian Steamroller, plenty of good seats available.

toolshed
toolshed
5 months ago

I was high on lodolo and thought he’d do better than Greene. This is a redraft league too. I am a little surprised about lodolo’s command and walk rate. I also dont know if he’ll be up much longer. Would you rather own lodolo or luzardo for this year? I have to cut one. I don’t trust luzardo despite that one great outing but his spot is secure. I really thought lodolo was more polished and would excel quickly which is why i am asking the question. It shows how much confidence i have in luzardo, not much. Thanks

toolshed
toolshed
5 months ago

In a redraft where many of the top prospects are owned and stashed in one lone NA spot, would you rather stash Lewis or R. Greene for this year. Greene is lower on the list and I am not sure what his recovery time looks like. The positive is that he looked like he was going to make the team out of spring. Lewis as you said looks good, but not sure where he will play if not at ss. Both seem like a more of a late June or later eta. Lewis does have the opportunity to force the issue and surface sooner whereas greene is grounded for a while. But, the twins have to make the move and they ?miranda in the mix too. Thanks