This week’s installment of Knocking Down the Door features a top prospect whose older brother is already in the Majors, two players selected in the top 10 picks of the 2015 draft, and a pair of starters that could add some flames to the back of the bullpen with their organization’s big league club.
Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Triple-A Colorado Springs)
Arcia cemented his spot as the Brewers’ shortstop of the near future when he posted an .800 OPS with 25 stolen bases while playing most of the 2015 season as a 20 year-old in Double-A Biloxi. Now he’s on the verge of claiming that starting job before he reaches his 22nd birthday on August 4.
While Jonathan Villar’s breakout season (.806 OPS, 31 steals) has played a part in pushing back Arcia’s estimated time of arrival in Milwaukee—it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if he was called up in early May—the recent trade of Aaron Hill opens up third base for Villar while Arcia is putting the finishing touches on his Minor League career with eight hits in his last 20 at-bats, including three doubles, a triple, a homer and seven runs batted in.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland)
The Red Sox have already patched up their bullpen by trading for Brad Ziegler, and they’re almost certain to acquire a starting pitcher before the non-waiver trade deadline on August 1 to shore up their shaky rotation. Their offense, meanwhile, is already the best in baseball and they could be even better once the Andrew Benintendi era begins.
I’m not certain that the 22-year-old Benintendi will be the first first-rounder (No. 7 overall) from the 2015 Draft to get the call to the big leagues—see Alex Bregman—but he shouldn’t be far behind. Coincidentally, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski recently hinted that Benintendi is close and might not need a stop in Triple-A.
Since a promotion to Double-A in mid-May, the left-handed-hitting center fielder has an .844 OPS in 47 games, including a .310 batting average since a 2-for-19 start. He’ll man left field once he arrives in Boston with Brock Holt moving back into his valuable role as a super-utility man.
Alex Bregman, INF, Houston Astros (Triple-A Fresno)
If you watched the Futures Game on Sunday, you know that I’m not the only person that thinks Alex Bregman should be in the Majors by now, including Bregman, who declared, “I’m ready,” when asked on MLB Network what he wanted the world to know about him.
The 22-year-old continues to tear the cover off of the ball in Triple-A and obviously didn’t have any problems with the elite talent on the mound yesterday, as he was a home run shy of the cycle after just three at-bats. Opening a spot in the Houston’s lineup is really as simple as moving Luis Valbuena to first base and allowing A.J. Reed and Evan Gattis to platoon in the designated hitter spot—Gattis has an .802 OPS versus left-handed pitching and a .641 OPS versus right-handers.
Reynaldo Lopez, SP/RP, Washington Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse)/Alex Reyes, SP/RP, St. Louis Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis)
I’ve lumped Lopez and Reyes together since the theme here is very similar. They’re two of the best pitching prospects in the Minor Leagues, both with limited experience in the upper minors—Lopez has 14 Double-A starts and two Triple-A starts; Reyes has made eight Double-A starts and nine Triple-A starts—and still a lot of room to develop as starting pitchers. But most will agree that they could dominate in the Major Leagues right now in one-to-two inning relief stints.
At 22 and 21 years of age, respectively, Lopez and Reyes could find themselves in the thick of the 2016 playoff race and pitching in plenty of meaningful games. Both can hit 100 mph on the radar gun as starters—I wouldn’t be surprised to see 102 mph in games where they’re only needed for a few batters. And, most importantly, their respective organizations could each use some help in the bullpen.
“Knocking Down the Door” is a weekly feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.