Top Prospect Promotions Rumors

Tigers To Promote Robbie Ray

The Tigers have announced that left-handed starter Robbie Ray will be recalled and make his Major League debut against the Astros next Tuesday.

"<strong

The 23-year-old Ray ranked 91st on MLB.com’s list of Top 100 prospects prior to the season and was the centerpiece to the trade that sent right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers to the Nationals this offseason (Detroit also received utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi lefty reliever Ian Krol). He’s gotten off to an excellent start to the year in Triple-A, posting a 1.59 ERA with a 21-to-5 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings of work (five starts). In their free scouting report, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com offered the following take on Ray:

“Ray throws his fastball in the low-90s and can reach back for a tick more velocity when he needs it. His slider can look slurvy at times, but the best ones have good depth. He has a good feel for his changeup, which is a more consistent offering. His command has improved, but he would benefit from further refinement. Ray is a good athlete and has proven to be durable. He relies more on pitchability than overpowering stuff to get outs, but he has what it takes to succeed as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.”

Ray’s promotion was necessitated by an injury to Anibal Sanchez, but should he impress to the point where he sticks on the roster, his promotion likely will lead him to Super Two status. If his official promotion is delayed until next Tuesday, he would accrue 148 days of Major League service time through season’s end, which would almost certainly place him within the top 22 percent of the two-to-three year service class following the 2016 campaign. That would make Ray eligible for arbitration four times, beginning after the ’16 season, and also setting him to hit free agency in the 2019-20 offseason. Of course, that schedule would change were Ray to be sent back down when Sanchez returns, which should be sometime in mid-May.

Somewhat ironically, Ray is making his Major League debut before the injured Fister has thrown a single Major League pitch for the Nationals. The trade was widely panned in the media at the time, as many felt that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski received too little for Fister, and it’s been compounded by his decision to trade Lombardozzi¬†for Alex Gonzalez, who has already been released. Ray’s development into a reliable starting option for the Tigers would greatly change that perception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Astros To Promote George Springer

Top outfield prospect George Springer will join the Astros tomorrow, reports Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. The 24-year-old entered the season as a consensus top-25 prospect.

Springer

As I recently discussed, Springer is among the game’s near-MLB-ready prospects who has yet to see any MLB time. If he sticks on the big club for the remainder of the year, Springer would accrue 166 days of service — short of a full season, but more than enough to set himself up to qualify for Super Two status. That means that the Astros will still stand to control him through the 2020 season.

Springer climbed up prospect rating boards after a monster 2013 campaign in which he hit a combined .303/.411/.600, and posted 37 home runs and 45 stolen bases, in 589 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A. Entering the 2014 season, analysts rated Springer between 18th (Baseball America) to 21st (MLB.com) among all MLB prospects. The 2011 first-round pick looked well on his way to a repeat of that performance in the season’s early going.

Looking ahead, Baseball America says that Springer possesses outstanding bat speed but can be beaten with offspeed offerings given his aggressive approach. With plus or better arm, speed, power, and defense tools, BA says that Springer should be a productive big leaguer even if he struggles somewhat (as many expect he will) to make contact at the MLB level.

Though he is a tall and powerful ballplayer, Springer profiles as a center fielder. But with that position occupied in Houston by offseason acquisition Dexter Fowler, Springer will presumably take over in left field for the optioned Robbie Grossman.


Royals To Call Up Yordano Ventura

The Royals will bring up one of the club's top prospects, righty Yordano Ventura, to start tomorrow night, the team announced via Twitter. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star first reported yesterday (on Twitter) that Ventura could be in line for his big league debut.

Ventura continues to climb the latest top prospect lists. According to Baseball America, he rates as the game's 26th overall prospect, with his secondary offerings improving to complement a three-digit heater. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo listed the 22-year-old at number 34 after he checked in at 60th before the season. This puts him in the same realm as other young righties like Alex Meyer, Jonathan Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Jake Odorizzi, and just behind fellow KC farmhand Kyle Zimmer. As Mayo noted, the real question with Ventura is whether his change will develop enough to make him a starter, or whether he will occupy a late-inning role with his fastball and curve offerings. ESPN's Keith Law is somewhat less bullish: he left Ventura out of his pre-season top-100, though he did note him as an honorable mention on his mid-season top-50 list. 

The Dominican signed with Kansas City back in 2008 for a meager $28k bonus, as the 5'11 hurler was not yet touching the 90's with his fastball and had some mechanical issues. As Baseball America's Ben Badler has explained, Ventura gained weight and cleaned up his delivery, with stellar results. Advancing quickly through the low minors, Ventura reached Double-A last year. After posting a 2.34 ERA in 57 2/3 innings at the penultimate minor league level in 2013, including 11.5 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9, Ventura earned a promotion. Over 77 innings at Triple-A, he has registered a 3.74 ERA on the back of 9.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. In addition to the downgrade in his K/BB ratio, Ventura also allowed significantly more hits (9.4 H/9 vs. 6.1 H/9) after moving up to Omaha.

Though Ventura was somewhat less outstanding later in the year, Kansas City apparently felt the time was right with starter Danny Duffy struggling with an injury. As Dutton explains, the team could instead have turned to Luis Mendoza or Will Smith, who have started in the past but are currently working out of the pen. As a result of the decision, the Royals will need to make a 40-man roster move to clear space. Ventura will take the hill for a crucial test against the division-rival Indians, who are among the teams that Kansas City is chasing for a Wild Card slot. 



Top Prospect Promotions: Paxton, Nelson, Schoop

Check here for today's promotions of top prospects around baseball….

  • The Mariners have called up left-hander James Paxton, Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.  Paxton, 24, was ranked before the season as one of the game's top prospects by MLB.com (57th) and Baseball America (#87) and he has posted a 4.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.26 K/BB rate over 145 2/3 innings in his first taste of Triple-A this year.  The southpaw is the second top M's pitching prospect this week to receive a promotion, after Taijuan Walker.  Paxton is under team control through the 2019 campaign and he'll have to be added to Seattle's 40-man roster.
  • The Brewers have called up right-hander Jimmy Nelson, manager Ron Roenicke told reporters (including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy).  Nelson, a second-rounder from the 2010 draft, has been a starter for the last three seasons but the Crew will use him as a reliever.  MLB.com ranked Nelson as the top prospect in the Brewers system and the 88th-best prospect overall, saying that the 24-year-old has "a heavy fastball that elicits ground balls and sits in the low 90s."  Nelson posted a 3.25 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.51 K/BB rate in 27 starts at Double-A and Triple-A this season, though he didn't perform quite as well at Triple-A.  Since he's being called up at this late date in the season, Nelson won't gain Super Two status and will be under team control through 2019.
  • The Orioles have called up middle infielder Jonathan Schoop, according to David Hall of the Virginian Pilot (Twitter link).  Schoop was ranked as the 50th-best prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN insider subscription required) before the season and MLB.com ranks him as the fourth-best prospect in the Baltimore organization.  Schoop, 21, hails from Curacao and has gradually evolved from a shortstop to a second baseman over his five minor league seasons could possibly be Brian Roberts' replacement at the position in the Major Leagues.  Schoop was limited to 285 PA at Triple-A Norfolk this season due to a stress fracture in his back, and he hit .255/.298/.397 with nine homers for the Tides.  He will be under team control through 2019, as Schoop's late callup won't give him Super Two status.  Besides Schoop, the O's have also called up Henry Urrutia and right-hander Josh Stinson.
  • As expected, the Reds have purchased the contract of outfielder Billy Hamilton, according to a tweet from his now-former club, the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Hamilton currently stands as the 17th-best prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The 22-year-old burner has scuffled somewhat in his first season at Triple-A, seeing his on-base percentage drop to a career-low .308 mark and carrying a .651 OPS. Nevertheless, he has swiped 75 bases in 90 attempts, added some pop (he has a career-best six home runs), and transitioned from shortstop to center field. Baseball Prospectus has a full scouting report on Hamilton (subscription required) as he reaches the bigs for the first time.
  • The White Sox have brought up two of the organization's top prospects, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. In addition to well-regarded youngster Marcus Semien, the club has purchased the contract of righty Erik Johnson, who John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranks as the 76th-best prospect in the game. Though he missed the top-100 list of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Johnson did appear at the number two slot among White Sox prospects, with Mayo explaining that he has the repertoire to become a mid-rotation starter. The 23-year-old has an excellent 1.57 ERA over 57 1/3 innings since reaching Triple-A, where he maintains a 8.9 K/9 ratio against 3.0 BB/9.

Top Prospect Promotions: Choice, Castellanos

As we learn of top prospect promotions over September, we'll try to keep tabs on them in a daily basis. Here are Sunday's promotions:

  • The Athletics are set to bring up outfielder Michael Choice, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser first reported last night. Choice entered the season as the A's second overall prospect as rated by Baseball America, which praised his strength and bat speed. He currently sits as the 92nd overall prospect in the game on Mayo's list. The 23-year-old has delivered a .302/.390/.445 line and fourteen homers in 600 plate appearances over his first season at Triple-A. 
  • The Tigers have officially called up the team's top prospect, with the team announcing on Twitter that it has purchased the contract of outfielder Nick Castellanos. The former third baseman entered the year as a consensus top-50 prospect in all of baseball, and moved up to 11th overall in the mid-season ranking of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. As Mayo explained, the 21-year-old hits the ball to all fields and has solid pop.

 


Mariners To Promote Taijuan Walker

The Mariners announced that they will promote right-hander Taijuan Walker in time to make his major league debut on Friday against the Astros.  Walker, 21, is the M's undisputed top pitching prospect.

This year, Walker was rated as the third-best prospect in the nation by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, No. 9 by Keith Law of ESPN.com, and the 18th best prospect by Baseball America,  BA's 2013 handbook, which put Walker as second only to Mike Zunino in the M's system, describes the youngster as a "premium athlete with an ideal pitcher's frame."  Walker projects as a potential ace and his potential showed through 2012, even though his Double-A stats didn't quite support that.

In 25 starts at the Double-A and Triple-A level this season, Walker posted a 2.93 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.  His late August promotion means that the M's can keep him under club control through 2019 without triggering an additional trip through arbitration.


Red Sox To Promote Xander Bogaerts

The Red Sox will make a series of roster moves today, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier, with none being more notable than the promotion of top prospect Xander BogaertsBogaerts

The 20-year-old Bogaerts has mashed his way into a universal Top 10 prospect, ranking third on Keith Law's Midseason Top 50 Prospect list (ESPN Insider required), fourth on Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 and ranking sixth on the current Top 100 list of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The Aruban shortstop is batting .297/.388/.477 with 15 home runs in 515 plate appearances between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this season.

Prior to the season, Law noted that Bogaerts had vastly improved his chances to stay at short, and while he may never become a plus defender at the position, his bat will allow him to be a five-WAR player even with average defense. BA noted that he has plus-plus raw power which he hasn't quite tapped into yet, but his easy swing allows him to spray the ball to all fields and make hard contact. Mayo adds that while he's an average runner, he has surprising range at shortstop and a plus arm. Over at Baseball Prospectus, Chris Mellen projects Bogaerts' ceiling to be an annual 30-homer shortstop once he matures (with more power in his peak seasons), but cautions that he needs to continue to improve his defense at short and also work on his plate discipline.

If he's on the big league roster for good, Bogaerts will miss the Super Two cutoff and be eligible for arbitration three times before reaching free agency as a 26-year-old following the 2019 season. Had the Red Sox kept him down at Pawtucket for the remainder of the season and the first three weeks of the 2014 campaign, they'd have picked up an extra year of team control over Bogaerts and been able to keep him through 2020. As they've shown in the past with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, however, the Red Sox aren't shy about extending core players when they're amenable to a long-term contract. Clearly that's a discussion for a much later date though, as Boston's current hope is simply that the infusion of a young, talented player like Bogaerts will spark a team that has won just three of its past ten contests.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Mets Promote Travis D’Arnaud

7:58pm: D'Arnaud will be activated for tomorrow's game, Terry Collins told reporters (including Mike Puma of the New York Post).

7:18pm: D'Arnaud has been activated for tonight's Mets/Padres game, Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters (including Adam Rubin of ESPN New York).  The team is still deciding whether to rush d'Arnaud to San Diego and have him arrive mid-game, or simply have him wait until tomorrow (according to Mike Puma of the New York Post).  Buck is being placed on the paternity list as his wife went into labor earlier today.

AUGUST 9: The Mets are likely to promote top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports (on Twitter). D'Arnaud would fill in for current starting catcher John Buck, who will soon go on paternity leave. Asked about the possibility of a d'Arnaud promotion, Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently said, "Right now, there isn't a real good reason not to," according to Newsday's Marc Carig (on Twitter).

D'Arnaud, who has missed most of the season with a foot injury, had been on a rehab assignment in Double-A Binghamton, but the team recently promoted him to Triple-A Las Vegas, the same city where he hit .333/.380/.595 last season, when Las Vegas was a Jays affiliate. The Mets are beginning a road trip to Arizona, Los Angeles and San Diego, which means that, with the promotion to the Pacific Coast League, d'Arnaud will be nearby whenever he's needed.

D'Arnaud was originally drafted by the Phillies, who shipped him to Toronto when they traded for Roy Halladay. The catcher was then one of the Mets' key acquisitions in the R.A. Dickey trade. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks d'Arnaud the No. 22 prospect in baseball. Before the season, d'Arnaud was ranked No. 14 by ESPN's Keith Law and No. 23 by Baseball America. BA's 2013 Prospect Handbook ranked him the No. 1 prospect in the Blue Jays system, noting that he makes "consistent hard contact" and that he has improved behind the plate as he's developed.

If d'Arnaud were to stick in the big leagues, he would surely miss the cutoff for Super Two eligibility. That would mean he would be eligible for arbitration after 2016, and free agency after 2019.


Cardinals To Promote Kolten Wong

The Cardinals will promote top prospect Kolten Wong, the athletic department of the University of Hawaii (Wong's alma mater) tweets. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirms (via Twitter) that the Cardinals are set to promote Wong on Friday.

MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets that the Cardinals will option Adron Chambers to clear space on their 25-man roster. Current Cards second baseman Matt Carpenter has played brilliantly this season, so Wong's promotion might mean less playing time for third baseman David Freese, as Carpenter, who has played 30 games at third this season, moves to the position on a more regular basis. Neither Wong nor Carpenter has significant experience at shortstop, where Pete Kozma has struggled this year.

Wong had been hitting .303/.369/.466 for Triple-A Memphis. The 22-year-old was the No. 22 overall pick in the 2011 draft. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks Wong the No. 53 prospect in baseball, while Baseball America ranked Wong No. 84 in their preseason rankings and ESPN's Keith Law ranked him No. 96. BA's 2013 Prospect Handbook named Wong the fifth-best prospect in a strong Cardinals system, noting that he has good power for a small player and has shown improved instincts at second. The late-season promotion surely means that Wong will not receive Super Two status, which would put him on track for arbitration eligibility after the 2016 season and free agency after 2019, assuming he sticks in the Majors.


Diamondbacks Promote Matt Davidson

The Diamondbacks have promoted third baseman Matt Davidson, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com (on Twitter).  The California native, who has been considered a top prospect for the last few years, was taken with the 35th overall pick in the 2009 draft by Arizona.

Davidson was ranked as the 70th best prospect heading into 2013 by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, No. 75 by Keith Law of ESPN.com, and No. 88 by Baseball America.  This season was Davidson's first at the Triple-A level and he has looked strong thus far, hitting .278/.348/.484 with 16 homers in 466 plate appearances.

The 22-year-old was rated as the top power hitter in the D'Backs' system and their fifth best prospect overall.  BA notes that while he has an issue with strikeouts and probably won't blossom into a high average hitter, he has the ability to drive the ball deep and to all fields when he isn't pressing.

As an August promotion, Davidson will be clear of the Super Two cutoff, meaning he will only be eligible for arbitration three times if he sticks with the varsity squad.  Staying with the big league club would mean that he will be controlled through the 2019 season.