This week’s installment of Knocking Down the Door features five 1st Round picks from the 2012 and 2013 drafts, three of which were recently named to Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 Prospect list.
Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
When we last discussed Jose Berrios here three weeks ago, he had just tossed eight shutout innings in his 10th Triple-A start of the season while a couple of Twins’ starters were hanging on to rotation spots by the skin of their teeth.
Since, Berrios has allowed just four earned runs in 27.2 innings with seven walks and 27 strikeouts in four starts. In 11 of his 14 starts, the 22-year-old has allowed two earned runs or less. He’s allowed four hits or less in 10 of those starts.
In the meantime, the Twins’ rotation hasn’t been horrible over the past few weeks. But they’re not exactly inspiring increased ticket sales or excitement for what the future holds.
Now that general manager Terry Ryan has been fired, interim general manager Rob Antony’s first line of business should be to add a very talented young pitcher and future staff ace to one of the most pedestrian rotations in baseball.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley)
Expectations for any highly-touted shortstop prospect will be immense thanks to Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager. All were top prospects. All became MLB superstars almost immediately. That pressure could soon fall on J.P. Crawford, the No. 3 overall prospect in Baseball America’s recently-released Midseason Top 100 and No. 1 shortstop ahead of Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman.
After a slow start to his Triple-A career, the 21-year-old Crawford has been on fire with a .314 batting average (44-for-140), nine doubles, one triple and three homers since June 11th. He’s also sporting a nifty 52-to-53 walk-to-strikeout ratio between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, which I’m pretty sure will translate to much better than what Freddy Galvis is currently doing with the Phillies (13 walks, 73 strikeouts).
While there is a benefit of starting Crawford’s service time clock a few weeks into the 2017 season instead of anytime this season—assuming he is in the Major Leagues for good, he would be under team control through 2023 instead of 2022—the expectations and pressure would be minimal with his team no longer in playoff contention. Call him up now and he could have nearly a half-season of big league experience under his belt by next April.
David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (Triple-A Albuquerque)
Regardless of whether the Rockies trade Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez, David Dahl will very likely be in the Rockies’ starting lineup in the near future. At least he deserves to be, even if it means that Gerardo Parra will be a very expensive fourth outfielder once he returns from the disabled list.
The 22-year-old Dahl has been able to put the 2015 season, in which he lost his spleen in an outfield collision, behind him. After posting an .867 OPS with 13 homers and 16 stolen bases for Double-A Hartford, Dahl has turned it up a few notches since a promotion to Triple-A. In 10 games, the left-handed hitting center fielder is 21-for-41 with five homers, four doubles and one triple.
Dahl also has six walks and five strikeouts, which is encouraging, even in such a small sample size, considering that he had a 39-to-84 walk-to-strikeout ratio in Double-A. He also walked 11 times with 81 strikeouts at the same level last season, so he seems to be making adjustments as he closes in on the big leagues.
Mitch Haniger, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno)
The window might be very small with Chris Owings and David Peralta close to returning from the disabled list, but Mitch Haniger has earned a chance to show the Diamondbacks what he can do before he’s buried on their outfield depth chart for good.
Acquired from the Brewers along with Futures Game selection Anthony Banda in the July 2014 trade for Gerardo Parra, the 25-year-old Haniger had put up solid numbers across the board in High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile. Now with Triple-A Reno, he’s making it difficult for the D’backs to ignore him much longer.
With Michael Bourn, Brandon Drury and Yasmany Tomas doing very little in the competition for the lone outfield spot that won’t be filled by Owings and Peralta in the near future, Haniger has put together a .367/.432/.719 slash line while playing all three outfield spots in 35 Triple-A games. Hitter-friendly league or not, that kind of production should open some eyes within the organization.
D.J. Peterson, 1B, Seattle Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma)
Adam Lind’s disappointing season has opened up an opportunity for D.J. Peterson and he’s taking full advantage. The No. 12 overall pick in the 2013 draft has homered in back-to-back games for Tacoma, giving him five in 15 games since being promoted from Double-A Jackson, where he posted an .805 OPS with 11 homers and 21 doubles in 73 games.
The 24-year-old Peterson was primarily a third baseman until last season, when he started more games at first base. Not coincidentally, Kyle Seager had signed a long-term extension during the previous offseason so any chance of Peterson ever being the Mariners third baseman were pretty much eliminated. His chances of ever making it to the big leagues at all also suffered. After all, there’s no future for a first baseman who posts a .636 OPS in Double-A.
But the right-handed batter has bounce back nicely in 2016 and could find himself in Seattle — particularly if the club isn’t able to turn things around in the next two weeks.
“Knocking Down the Door” is a weekly feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.