Chicago White Sox – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Thu, 20 Sep 2018 21:56:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Silver Linings: American League Central https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/silver-linings-american-league-central.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/silver-linings-american-league-central.html#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2018 22:27:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133069 It’s often difficult to feel positive about a team when it is finishing out a season that won’t end in meaningful games, let alone postseason play. Still, there are silver linings to be found in even the worst campaigns. We’ll tick through every division in the coming days to identify the brightest spots for the non-competitive organizations.

First up is the division most in need of a pick-me-up: the American League Central. With the Indians cruising to a title, the four remaining clubs are all looking ahead to next year. Here’s each of those organizations’ most promising development from the ’18 campaign (with link to current depth chart):

Royals: The Middle Infield

Entering the year, the K.C. organization had a middling outlook up the middle on the dirt. Whit Merrifield had turned in a late-twenties breakout, sure, but could he keep it up? Meanwhile veteran Alcides Escobar was brought back to keep things patched up at short.

As it turns out, though, Merrifield has more than doubled down on his 2017 effort. Entering play today, he was — *checks* — **double-checks** — 25th (!) among all position-players by measure of fWAR. With ample cheap control remaining, he’s a heck of an asset, even if he is already 29 years of age.

Shortstop, though, remained an evident conundrum for much of the year. Enter (okay, re-enter) Adalberto Mondesi. The 23-year-old, whose first MLB action improbably came in the 2015 World Series, is presently carrying a .284/.311/.467 slash with nine home runs and 25 steals in 241 plate appearances. He’s grading as an elite baserunner and high-quality defender at short, making him a potential core piece.

White Sox: Eloy On The Cusp

With apologies to Daniel Palka, Omar Narvaez, and Matt Davidson — nice seasons, all — the most notable development this year for the South Siders has occurred in their minor-league system. Many fans would like to see Eloy Jimenez in the majors right now, finishing off his spectacular campaign in style. Instead, they’ll have to wait until early 2019, though that also means their favorite club will control him for one more precious season.

Jimenez, 21, made good on his top-prospect billing, turning in a monster .337/.384/.577 campaign in 456 plate appearances split evenly between the organization’s top two affiliates. That makes him one of the truly elite prospects in baseball and, quite possibly, the much-needed superstar of the future.

Of course, there was a real shot that this nod would have gone to the pitching staff, but the hurlers just came up short. Michael Kopech’s otherwise promising campaign ended in agony, with Tommy John surgery. Reynaldo Lopez has settled in as a solid, but hardly dominant starter. And while Carlos Rodon’s return has been excellent in terms of results, his peripherals tell quite a different story.

Tigers: Landing Mize

No kidding, having the first pick the draft is a good thing. But it’s not every year — far from it — that a player like Casey Mize is there to be taken. Not only was Mize considered the top talent, he was also likely the most advanced player on the board.

Shades of Stephen Strasburg? The Tigers have reason to hope. He’s already sitting at the #20 spot on MLB.com’s ranking of the top prospects in baseball, to cite but one account of the impact to a Tigers system that has had its share of questions in recent years. Of course, Mize is also now but one of several intriguing young hurlers percolating up toward the majors through Detroit’s minor league ranks.

In a way, though, this is not quite the news you’d hope for. The Tigers’ MLB roster has obviously had its share of good news, including a strong year from Matt Boyd; continued success from Nicholas Castellanos (though he’s just one year from free agency); and the emergence of Niko Goodrum as a useful MLB asset. However, there hasn’t been much else to write home about otherwise at the major-league level. And a concerning season from Michael Fulmer and tepid output from Jeimer Candelario leave some cause for pessimism.

Twins: Encouraging Arms

In numerous ways, 2018 was quite a disappointment for a Minnesota organization that had designs on contention. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton not only failed to improve, but ended up on optional assignment. The team’s slate of short-term veteran signing fell way shy of delivering the anticipated value. Its leading hitter, Eduardo Escobar, was traded away months ago.

But there was one area where things went just about as well as might have been hoped: the team’s group of controllable MLB rotation pieces. Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, and Jake Odorizzi have all been worth at least 2.5 fWAR and look to be quality values heading into 2019. Michael Pineda fully rehabbed from Tommy John surgery before being felled by a meniscus tear, so there’s good reason to think he’ll be at full health. And though well-regarded prospect Stephen Gonsalves struggled badly in brief MLB action, he just turned in a strong outing today and was rather dominant at Triple-A, working to a 2.76 ERA with 9.0 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9 (but only 5.7 hits per nine) in 120 2/3 innings. 23-year-old Fernando Romero, a highly regarded young right-hander, gave the team some reason for optimism as well, though his overall numbers are dragged down by one particularly catastrophic start (eight runs in 1 2/3 innings).

It wasn’t all roses in the forward-looking portion of the pitching staff. Ervin Santana’s option doesn’t seem desirable. More worryingly, Adalberto Mejia was cut short due to injury in an otherwise promising season. And it’s not as if the showing from the above-noted hurlers was particularly exciting. More might have been hoped for from Berrios and Odorizzi.

That said, it’s perhaps too easy to dismiss this kind of affordable productivity. Setting a sturdy baseline from the rotation is a notable development, particularly for an organization that must operate within spending limitations.

Of course, finding star-level players is still of greater importance. And there were notable developments there for Minny. While the outlook on Sano and Buxton is nowhere near as promising as it once was, both still have future value. And there’s now a pair of elite prospects rising through the system. Both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff both landed among the twenty top minor-league performers in 2018 and are graded among the top twenty prospects in the game (see, e.g., “The Board” at Fangraphs). They’d have represented a worthy recipient of my “silver lining” label, to be sure, but neither is expected to be ready until 2020, so I’m taking the immediate value in the staff.

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Michael Kopech Undergoes Tommy John Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/michael-kopech-diagnosed-with-torn-ucl-tommy-john-surgery.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/michael-kopech-diagnosed-with-torn-ucl-tommy-john-surgery.html#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2018 19:52:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132442 SEPTEMBER 19: As expected, Kopech has undergone the procedure. He’s not expected back until the start of camp in 2020, per the club.

SEPTEMBER 7: White Sox righty Michael Kopech has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the team announced to reporters. Tommy John surgery has been recommended for the highly regarded young hurler.

This news represents a major blow to a rebuilding organization that had hoped to build momentum entering the 2019 campaign. Kopech, 22, had only just arrived in the majors — bringing the promise of an exciting end to a largely forgettable 2018 campaign.

While the long-term hope will remain that Kopech can become a front-of-the-rotation anchor, it’ll have to wait until 2020. Odds are, he’ll be sidelined for all of the 2019 campaign while recovering. The silver lining for the young hurler — and the twist of the dagger for the organization — is that he’ll accrue MLB service time all the while.

Kopech entered the season as one of the game’s brightest pitching prospects, and largely delivered on the hype in his first full season at Triple-A. He turned in 126 1/3 innings of 3.70 ERA ball, with 12.1 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9, before receiving his first call-up to the majors.

Upon his promotion, Kopech turned in three eye-opening outings in the majors to close out the month of August. Though he was limited to just 11 total frames owing to the whims of Mother Nature, the youngster allowed just a single earned run while racking up nine strikeouts against one walk.

Unfortunately, the flamethrower exhibited a velocity decline in his most recent outing, an 82-pitch dud in which he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits (including four long balls) in just 3 1/3 innings. It seems that something wasn’t quite right, clearly, as the organization ordered testing that identified the newly revealed injury.

To this point, the South Siders’ efforts to build a new core have run into the realities of exposing young players to the majors. There’s still plenty of promise, but the aggregate output is a 56-84 record. And strides for some players have occurred alongside struggles for others — especially in the rotation.

When the Sox traded away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in the 2016-17 offseason, kicking the club’s rebuild into top gear, the result was a farm system that many considered one of the best in the sport. In addition to delivering top position playing prospect Yoan Moncada, that pair of swaps delivered a haul of new pitching talent.

There has been promise along the way for the hurlers, with Kopech shining as one of the brighter lights. Prospect Dane Dunning has as well, though he has been on ice since late June owing to a balky elbow. Those pitchers that have already spent significant time in the majors, though, haven’t yet delivered on their promise.

True, southpaw Carlos Rodon has put together nearly a hundred frames of 2.89 ERA ball this year after returning from his own injury problems. But even that effort has come with questions, as Rodon’s breakout in the results department has come in spite of peripheral declines. A similar early showing from Reynaldo Lopez has now corrected over the course of the full season. Other young pitchers — Lucas Giolito, Dylan Covey, Carson Fulmer — have continued to run into troubles in the majors.

At this point, the outlook of the 2019 rotation is at best uncertain. Without Kopech, the unit appears decidedly less exciting. Exactly how that’ll impact the team’s offseason plans remains to be seen, but there’s obviously potentially another hole to be filled. Of course, there’s also less cause for the organization to believe it can move into a truly competitive stance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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The Top Minor League Performers Of 2018 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/top-minor-league-performers-in-2018.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/top-minor-league-performers-in-2018.html#comments Tue, 18 Sep 2018 23:15:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132681 Over at Roster Resource, I rank Minor Leaguers throughout the regular season using a formula that takes into account several statistics with age and level serving as important factors in how they are weighed. These are not prospect rankings!

This is how it works:

  • Hitters are mostly rated by total hits, outs, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
  • Pitchers are mostly rated by strikeouts, walks, earned runs, home runs and hits allowed per inning.
  • A few counting stats are included (IP, plate appearances, runs, RBI) to ensure that the players atop the list played a majority of the season.
  • The younger the player and the higher the level, the more weight each category is given. Therefore, a 19-year-old with an identical stat line as a 25-year-old at the same level will be ranked much higher. If a 23-year-old in Triple-A puts up an identical stat line as a 23-year-old in High-A, the player in Triple-A would be ranked much higher.

A player’s potential does not factor in to where they are ranked. If you’re wondering why a certain prospect who is rated highly by experts isn’t on the list, it’s likely because they missed time due to injury (see Victor Robles or Nick Senzel), MLB promotion (Juan Soto) or just weren’t productive enough. While there are plenty of recognizable names throughout the MiLB Power Rankings Top 200 list, it’s also full of players who were relatively unknown prior to the season and have seen their stock rise significantly due to their performance. Here’s a closer look at the Top 20.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Guerrero probably deserved to start his MLB career sometime between the debuts of NL Rookie of the Year candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. (April 25th) and Juan Soto (May 20th). All things being equal, that would’ve been the case.

But his call-up was delayed, mostly because third baseman Josh Donaldson was healthy in May and designated hitter Kendrys Morales was being given every opportunity to break out of an early season slump. As Guerrero’s path to regular playing time was becoming clearer, he suffered a knee injury in early June that kept him out of action for a month. When he returned, the Jays’ playoff chances had dwindled. Instead of adding him to the 40-man roster and starting his service time clock, they chose to delay his MLB debut until 2019.

You can hate the rule, but I’m certain Jays fans would rather have Guerrero under team control in 2025 as opposed to having him on the team for a few meaningless months in 2018 and headed for free agency after the 2024 season. And maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy seeing what kind of numbers a player can put up when he’s way too good for his competition. And all this 19-year-old kid did was slash .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR, 29 2B, 37 BB, 38 K in 408 plate appearances, mostly between Triple-A and Double-A (he had 14 PAs during a rehab stint in the low minors).  Thanks for providing us with that beautiful stat line, Vlad Jr.

2. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

Despite a slow start—he had 21 hits in his first 83 Triple-A at-bats with one homer and 20 strikeouts— the 21-year-old Tucker showed why the World Champions were willing to give him a chance to take their starting left field job and run with it in July.

Tucker wasn’t quite ready for the Big Leagues—he was 8-for-52 in two separate MLB stints prior to a recent third call-up—but his stock hasn’t dropped one bit after slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases over 465 plate appearances in his first season at the Triple-A level.

3. Luis Rengifo, SS, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

A 21-year-old shortstop just finished a Minor League season with 50 extra-base hits (7 HR, 30 2B, 13 3B), 41 stolen bases, as many walks as strikeouts (75 of each) and a .299/.399/.452 slash line. If the name Luis Rengifo doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. He kind of came out of nowhere.

The Mariners traded him to the Rays last August in a deal for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton. Nine months later, the Rays shipped him to the Angels as the PTBNL in the deal for C.J. Cron. Based on those two trades, I can say without hesitation that the Mariners and Rays did not think Rengifo was this good. Not even close.

4. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

Lowe’s breakout season mirrors Juan Soto’s in one way: They both posted an OPS above 1.000 at two different levels before a promotion to a third. Soto’s third stop was in Double-A, and it was a very short stint before heading to the Majors. After destroying High-A and Double-A pitching, Lowe’s final stop of 2018 was Triple-A, where he finally cooled off.

Still, the 23-year-old has put himself squarely on the Rays’ radar. After homering just 11 times in his first 757 plate appearances, all in the low minors, Lowe broke out with 27 homers and 32 doubles in 555 plate appearances in 2018. His overall .330/.416/.568 slash was exceptional.

5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Twins Depth Chart

We’re four seasons into the Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano era—both debuted during the 2015 season—and we can’t say for certain whether either player will even be penciled into the regular lineup in 2019. They could be still turn out to be perennial All-Stars someday. But you can’t blame Twins fans if they temper their expectations for the next great hitting star to come up through their farm system. And yet, that might be difficult with Kirilloff, a first-round draft pick in ’16, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, after the year each of them just had. Both are moving up the ladder quickly.

The 20-year-old Kirilloff, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was a hitting machine in his first full professional season. After slashing .333/.391/.607 with 13 homers in 65 games with Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .362 with seven homers and 24 doubles in 65 games with High-A Fort Myers. He also had 11 hits in the playoffs, including a 5-hit performance on September 5th.

6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

All Bichette did during his age-20 season was hit 43 doubles and steal 32 bases while manning shortstop for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the 2018 Eastern League Champions. It’s unlikely that he’ll join Vlad Jr. in the Majors early next season, but he might not be too far behind.

7. Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

Alonso’s monster season (.975 OPS, 36 HR, 31 2B, 119 RBI between AAA/AA) ended in disappointment when he was passed over for a September promotion. As was the case with Vlad Jr., it didn’t make much sense to start his service time clock and fill a valuable 40-man spot during the offseason—neither Guerrero or Alonso have to be protected from the next Rule 5 draft—while the team is playing meaningless games. The 23-year-old Alonso did establish, however, that he is the Mets’ first baseman of the very near future, and they’ll plan accordingly during the upcoming offseason.

8. Touki Toussaint, SP, Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

As tough as it will be to crack the Braves’ rotation in the coming years, the 22-year-old Toussaint has put himself in position to play a significant role in 2019 after posting a 2.38 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 24 starts between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s also starting meaningful MLB games down the stretch as the Braves try to seal their first division title since 2013. After spending last October in the Arizona Fall League, where he followed up an underwhelming 2017 season by allowing 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings, he could find himself on the Braves’ playoff roster.

9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

The highest-ranked player to spend the entire season in Low-A, the 20-year-old Brujan slashed .320/.403/.459 while stealing 55 bases in his first crack at a full season league (27 games in High-A; 95 games in Low-A). He’ll still be overshadowed a bit in a deep Tampa Bay farm system that includes two of the best young prospects in the game, Wander Franco and Jesus Sanchez, but it’s hard to ignore such a rare combination of speed and on-base ability displayed by a switch-hitting middle infielder.

10. Michael King, SP, New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

The Yankees’ offseason trade that sent two MLB-ready players, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith, to the Marlins cleared a pair of 40-man roster spots prior to the Rule 5 draft and brought back $250K in international bonus pool money. They also received King, who—whether anyone expected it or not—was about to have a breakout season.

After posting a 3.14 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 over 149 innings in Low-A in his age-22 season, numbers that typically indicate “possible future back-of-the-rotation workhorse,”  he looks to be much more than that after his 2018 performance. In 161 1/3 innings across Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, King posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. He was at his best once he reached Triple-A, posting a 1.15 ERA with only 20 hits and six walks allowed over 39 innings.

11. Taylor Widener, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

Unlike the trade to acquire King, the Yankees appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in a three-team, seven-player offseason deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay. They traded away Nick Solak to the Rays and Widener to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brandon Drury, who was supposed to fill a short-term need for infield depth.

While Drury was a bust in New York—he had nine hits in 51 at-bats before being traded to Toronto in a July deal for J.A. Happ—Solak, a second baseman/outfielder, put up terrific numbers in Double-A (.834 OPS, 19 HR, 21 SB) and Widener has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 over 137 1/6 innings with Double-A Jackson.

12. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart

The offseason signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer certainly didn’t bode well for Naylor’s future with the Padres. Whether he had an MLB future at all, however, was already in question. First base prospects can’t just be good hitters. They need to mash, which is far from what Naylor did in 2017 (.761 OPS, 10 HR between Double-A and High-A). But a 20-year-old holding his own in Double-A is still interesting, nevertheless. So it was worth paying attention when he hit .379 with seven homers, five doubles, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in April. He also spent most of his time in left field in 2018, adding a bit of versatility to his game.

Although April was his best month, by far, he still finished with an impressive .297/.383/.447 slash line. He’ll enter 2019 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A who has flashed some power (17 HR, 22 2B in 574 plate appearances) and above-average plate discipline (64 BB, 69 K).

13. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Unlike the Jays and Mets, who had multiple reasons to keep Guerrero and Alonso in the Minors until 2019, the Sox’s decision to bypass Jimenez for a September call-up was more questionable.

Already on the 40-man roster and without much to prove after slashing .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 28 doubles between Triple-A and Double-A, Jimenez’s MLB debut appeared imminent as September approached. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, citing Jimenez’s need to improve his defense, confirmed in early September that he would not be called up. Of course, the 21-year-old probably would’ve benefited greatly from playing left field in the Majors for 20-25 games in September. And, of course, Hahn is just doing a good job of not saying the quiet part out loud: Eloy under team control through 2025 > Eloy under team control through 2024.

14. Dean Kremer, SP, Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

After posting a 5.18 ERA in 2017, mostly as a relief pitcher in High-A, Kremer’s stock rose quickly with a full-time move to the starting rotation in 2018. In 16 starts for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA with a 13.0 K/9. After tossing seven shutout innings in his Double-A debut, the Dodgers included him as a key piece in the July trade for Manny Machado. Kremer continued to pitch well with Double-A Bowie (2.58 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 53 K) and now finds himself on track to help a rebuilding Orioles’ team in 2019.

15. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

Lopez started to turn some heads during last offseason’s Arizona Fall League, and it carried over into 2018 as he slashed .308/.382/.417 with nine homers, 15 stolen bases and more walks (60) than strikeouts (52) between Triple-A and Double-A.  It’s a sign that the 23-year-0ld’s bat is catching up with his stellar defense and that he’s closing in on the Majors, where he could team with Adalberto Mondesi to form one of the better young middle infield duos in the game.

16. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft didn’t disappoint in his first full professional season, posting an .853 OPS, nine homers, 23 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 75 Low-A games before a 2nd half promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t fare quite as well (.726 OPS, 5 HR, 6 SB in 46 games), but he did hit three homers in the playoffs to help his team win the Florida State League championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the if he reached Double-A early next season as a 19-year-old with a jump to the Majors in 2020 not out of the question.

17. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Throwing a 100 MPH fastball isn’t as rare as it used to be, but Kopech has reportedly touched 105 MPH, putting him in a class of his own. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old right-hander is expected to join a long list of pitchers who have had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery after he was recently diagnosed with a torn UCL.

The timing isn’t great, as Kopech had just arrived in the Majors in late August and would’ve likely been a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Still, he’ll only have to prove that he’s back to full health before he returns to the Majors—he should be ready to return early in the 2020 season— after making a strong impression in Triple-A with a 3.70 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 24 starts.

18. Kevin Smith, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Not only do Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely form the best trio of infield prospects in the game, two are sons of Hall of Famers—Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Craig Biggio, and Bichette’s dad, Dante, was also pretty good. And yet, another Blue Jays infield prospect with a very ordinary name and without MLB lineage managed to stand out. The 22-year-old finished the season with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 29 stolen bases and a cumulative .302/.358/.528 batting line between High-A and Low-A.

19. Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

The former first-round pick wasn’t overly impressive in his first full Minor League season in 2017, slashing .244/.331/.362 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases for Low-A Great Lakes. A move to the hitter-friendly California League in 2018, however, seemed sure to give his offensive numbers a boost. It did. Lux had a .916 OPS and 41 extra-base hits in 404 plate appearances, but he also didn’t slow down once he reached the upper minors late in the year.

In 28 regular season games with Double-A Tulsa, the 20-year-old Lux slashed .324/.408/.495 with four homers in 120 plate appearances. It didn’t end there. Over an eight-game playoff run, the left-handed batter went 14-for-33 with five multi-hit games.

20. Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

Acquiring the 21-year-old Sandoval from the Astros for free agent-to-be catcher Martin Maldonado could turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline. While the lefty didn’t stand out in Houston’s deep farm system, he was having a strong season at the High-A and Low-A levels at the time of the trade (2.56 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 88 innings). The change of scenery didn’t affect him one bit as he tossed 14 2/3 shutout innings in the California League before finishing the season with four impressive Double-A starts (19 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 27 K).

Power Ranking Leaders By Level

Triple-A
Hitter: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
Starting Pitcher: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Relief Pitcher: Ian Gibaut, Tampa Bay Rays

Double-A
Hitter: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Starting Pitcher: Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks
Relief Pitcher: Matt Pierpont, Colorado Rockies

High-A
Hitter: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
Pitcher: Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Low-A
Hitter: Chavez Young, Toronto Blue Jays
Pitcher: Jhonathan Diaz, Boston Red Sox

Short-Season A
Hitter: Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians
Pitcher: Jaison Vilera, New York Mets

Rookie 
Hitter: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Pitcher: Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres

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AL Notes: Tucker, Abreu, Betts, Blue Jays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-notes-tucker-abreu-betts-blue-jays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-notes-tucker-abreu-betts-blue-jays.html#comments Sun, 16 Sep 2018 20:39:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132924 The Astros called up top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker from Triple-A today, and that could very well mark the team’s final September promotion, manager A.J. Hinch tells reporters (Twitter links via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). Hinch added that Tucker probably won’t play much in the season’s final weeks, though with Tucker having already debuted earlier this summer and his season in Triple-A Fresno over, there’s little reason not to bring Tucker back up. The 21-year-old former No. 5 overall pick hit just .154/.254/.212 in 59 plate appearances with the ’Stros earlier this year, but he decimated Triple-A pitching at a .332/.400/.590 pace, swatting 24 homers and swiping 20 steals along the way.

More from the American League…

  • In an interesting look back at what could have been, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald examines the Red Sox’ initial pursuit of Jose Abreu when he was an international free agent. The BoSox maxed out at six years and $60MM in their pursuit of the vaunted Cuban slugger according to Silverman, but they ultimately lost out when the White Sox offered a total of $68MM guaranteed over that same term. Silverman runs through a series of trickle-down effects, as Boston instead pivoted to re-sign Mike Napoli. That was one of many lackluster offseason moves that set the stage for the ill-fated 2014-15 offseason that saw the Sox sign Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. There’s little sense in fretting too much over hindsight, but it’s nonetheless an intriguing reminder of the domino effect that so many offseason moves (and non-moves) carry.
  • Mookie Betts exited today’s game with soreness in his left side, the Red Sox announced today. That’s the same issue that caused him to land on the disabled list earlier this summer, but manager Alex Cora tells reporters that this instance was precautionary and not considered serious (Twitter link via Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic). Betts is expected to see some time at DH in the Red Sox’ upcoming series against the Yankees, with J.D. Martinez lining up in right field in his place.
  • The Blue Jays are making some changes in their scouting department, as first reported by Robert Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link). Specifically, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that pro scouts Jon Bunnell, Dan Evans, Bryan Lambe and Kimball Crossley are being let go. A pair of veteran Jays scouts, Jim Beattie and and Brad Matthews are retiring as well. While some organizations have begun to pare back on their pro scouting staffs, Davidi notes that the Blue Jays are planning on replacing all six of them.
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Prospect Notes: Vlad, 2018 Draftees, Twins, Franco, Pitchers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/prospect-notes-vlad-2018-draftees-twins-franco-pitchers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/prospect-notes-vlad-2018-draftees-twins-franco-pitchers.html#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:54:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132744 With the season effectively over for all but a few teams, many front offices and fanbases alike are turning their sights toward the 2019 season and beyond as they hope for better days. With that in mind, here’s a look at some notes on some of the game’s top prospects from around the league…

  • ESPN’s Keith Law named Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. his prospect of the year for a second consecutive season (subscription required), citing familiar questions about his long-term defensive capabilities but adding that there’s “zero question in my mind” that Guerrero is more than ready to thrive against Major League pitching at the moment. As for 2018 draftees, Cardinals third baseman Nolan Gorman and Royals lefty Daniel Lynch have been the two most impressive in his estimation. Gorman destroyed Appalachian League pitching and was promoted to full-season Class-A ball despite only having turned 18 in May. Lynch, a University of Virginia product, split his pro debut between those same two levels and pitched to a 1.58 ERA with a 61-to-8 K/BB ratio in 51 1/3 innings.
  • Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com took a longer-term look at prospects yesterday, attempting to forecast who will be the top-ranked prospects this time a year from now. With names like Guerrero, Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Kyle Tucker all expected to graduate from prospect lists next year, Callis and Mayo tab Twins shortstop Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick from 2017, as their pick to be the game’s top prospect a year from now. More encouraging for Twins fans is that 2016 first-rounder and outfielder Alex Kirilloff, who missed the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, lands third on the same list after hitting .348/.392/.578 between Class-A and Class-A Advanced in his return from that surgery.
  • Meanwhile, Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser writes that Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been tabbed as BA’s breakout prospect of 2018. (Franco also appears on the previously mentioned lists from Law and MLB.com.) The 17-year-old Franco grew up living next to Indians superstar Jose Ramirez in the Dominican Republic and calls his childhood neighbor and friend his “idol” and greatest influence as a hitter. Glaser speaks to Franco about his relationship with Ramirez and his progress in 2018, and he also chats with Franco’s Appalachian League manager, Danny Sheaffer, about the young phenom’s strengths and upside. Franco was one of just two 17-year-olds playing in the Appy League this year but crushed older pitching to the tune of a .351/.418/.587 slash with 11 homers, 10 doubles and seven triples in 273 plate appearances.
  • Evaluating pitching prospects is among the most challenging endeavors for teams and online analysts alike. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently explored the pitfalls of attempting to do so, suggesting that many mainstream publications (his own past work at Fangraphs included) have leaned too heavily in favor of “power-over-feel” prospects and downplayed the potential significance of players cut from the Shane Bieber cloth — those who possess above-average command and stuff but perhaps not an overpowering arsenal of 60- or 70-grade offerings. McDaniel highlights Tigers righty Matt Manning, White Sox righty Dylan Cease and Rays lefty/first baseman Brendan McKay in examining the various elements that have contributed to this line of thinking in an interesting column that those who avidly follow prospects will want to check out in its entirety.
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White Sox Activate Nate Jones https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-activate-nate-jones.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-activate-nate-jones.html#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2018 18:29:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132654 The White Sox have activated reliever Nate Jones, per a club announcement. That’ll leave the club’s 40-man roster fully occupied.

Jones hit the DL in mid-June with a pronator muscle strain that ended up sapping much of his season. It’s the latest in a string of maladies in the elbow/forearm region of his right arm. Last year, Jones required season-ending nerve repositioning surgery. Previously, he missed virtually all of the 2014 season and part of the 2015 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

It’s not a particularly promising run of arm health, but it’s hard to ignore the results that Jones has produced in-between DL stints. In particular, he worked 70 2/3 innings of 2.29 ERA ball, with 10.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9, in an excellent 2016 season. Though he has thrown only 36 1/3 MLB frames since, Jones has allowed only ten earned runs in that span. He’s still getting swings and misses while pumping upper-nineties heat, though it’s fair also to note that he has also walked five batters per nine.

In the aggregate, as MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently explored, there’s good reason to imagine the White Sox expect to pick up Jones’s option. It’ll cost $4.65MM, though there’d otherwise be a $1.25MM buyout to pay. For a reliever of his upside, it’s likely a reasonable risk, especially since the deal includes future option seasons as well.

Importantly, while there has been some belief that Jones might be available to the White Sox at a lower price, MLBTR has learned that will not be the case. His contract contemplated two scenarios at its back end. If Jones needed Tommy John surgery before the end of the 2018 season, then there would be a MLB minimum club option in 2019 followed by $3.75MM and $4.25MM club options. If, on the other hand, TJS did not take place, Jones would be controllable via successive club options of $4.65MM and $5.15MM, with a $6MM mutual option for the 2021 campaign.

Now, any uncertainty about the contract values has been resolved: the latter scenario will govern from this point forward. That means that the cost is somewhat higher and, perhaps more importantly, that there are only two more seasons available for control via club option (with the third being a rarely exercised mutual option).

That certainly makes for a tougher decision and raises the stakes somewhat for Jones’s late-season return. Barring a truly worrisome performance, though, it seems fair to guess that the White Sox are rather likely to roll the dice that Jones will be able to stay on the mound in 2019.

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White Sox Activate Jose Abreu https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-activate-jose-abreu.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-activate-jose-abreu.html#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 17:39:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132596 The White Sox announced Monday that they’ve activated first baseman Jose Abreu from the 10-day disabled list. He’d been out since mid-August after being rushed to the hospital due to lower abdominal pain and eventually undergoing an emergency testicular torsion surgery.

Abreu, 33, missed about three weeks of action as a result of the surgery and could ultimately fall shy of a fifth consecutive 25-homer, 100-RBI season to open his big league career. The Cuban-born slugger struggled through a disappointing first half but was on absolute fire in the second half prior to his surgery, hitting at a .330/.394/.652 clip through 127 plate appearances between the All-Star Game and his most recent game played (Aug. 20).

Despite his standing as a productive veteran slugger on a team that has rebuilding for the past two-plus years, Abreu hasn’t been rumored to be much of a trade candidate this year. He’ll be a free agent following the 2019 season, as things currently stand, though the Sox have in the past suggested that there’d be interest in keeping their clubhouse leader around beyond that 2019 campaign. Abreu is playing the 2018 season on a $13MM salary and will be eligible for one final arbitration raise this winter before he’d be scheduled to hit the open market.

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Poll: The Handling Of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/poll-the-handling-of-vladimir-guerrero-jr-and-eloy-jimenez.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/poll-the-handling-of-vladimir-guerrero-jr-and-eloy-jimenez.html#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 03:30:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132581 Two of the most talented players in Triple-A will remain there throughout the month of September. Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez will not receive a cup of coffee in the majors this month, per recent announcements from the Blue Jays and White Sox, respectively.

To those well-versed in MLB service time rules and practices, this news induces a reaction closer to a yawn than a surprise; teams have been using the service clock to manipulate team control for quite some time, and there was no reason to believe that would change in regards to Guerrero Jr. or Jimenez. Recent examples of players whose service time has been suppressed by their respective teams in order to yield them an additional year of team control include Kris Bryant, George Springer and Ronald Acuna Jr., and that list is far from complete. Others still, including the likes of Francisco Lindor, have been held in the minors long enough to reduce their earning power.

That doesn’t mean agents are quieting down about the issue, though. Both players’ representatives have been vocal in regards to their clients’ dearth of a promotion, as well they ought to be considering they’ll miss out on a significant amount of money. Jimenez’ agent in particular blasted with White Sox for service time manipulation. “Especially with elite players like Eloy and (Blue Jays top prospect) Vlad (Guerrero) Jr., that’s the nature of the business,” said Dan Kinzer. “It’s not about the money. It’s the extra year of control.” Similarly, the MLBPA has spoken out against Chicago and Toronto on the subject.

Perhaps J.J. Cooper of Baseball America put it best in his recent piece on the subject: it’s impossible to objectively argue that these players don’t deserve a call up based on performance. Guerrero Jr. has hit .336/.414/.564 with a microscopic 7.8% strikeout rate since his promotion to Triple-A this season, while Jimenez owns an even more excellent .355/.399/.597 line to go along with a 13.2% strikeout rate. Put simply, opposing pitchers aren’t fooling these prospects, and there’s no real reason development-wise that they ought not be exposed to major-league pitching. That’s particularly true in light of the fact that the White Sox promoted low-ceiling prospect Ryan Cordell, while the Blue Jays selected Triple-A veteran Rowdy Tellez. Whatever good there is to say of these young players, any attempt to argue that they’ve done more to earn a promotion than Guerrero Jr. or Jimenez would require a staggering amount of cognitive dissonance.

These teams are clearly planning to restrain their top prospects within the confines of Triple-A until the third week of April 2019, regardless of how well they hit. That’s the point at which they’ll be guaranteed an additional year of team control that allows them to keep those future superstars around through the 2026 season rather than hit free agency after 2025. It’s a distinction that could potentially cost them eight figures in earning power apiece depending on how they develop in the majors.

The question I want to pose is, how do you feel about the overt suppression of service time to manipulate a player’s team control? (Poll link for app users)

 

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White Sox Outright Tyler Danish https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-outright-tyler-danish.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-outright-tyler-danish.html#comments Sun, 09 Sep 2018 16:04:08 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132554 The White Sox outrighted right-hander Tyler Danish to Triple-A Charlotte, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Twitter link).  This is the second time that Danish has been outrighted, as he was also removed from Chicago’s 40-man roster last November.

A second-rounder for the Sox in the 2013 draft, Danish has seen only sparing big league action in each of the last three seasons, with a career total of 13 innings over 11 games (one of them a start).  In total, the right-hander has a 4.85 ERA and more walks (13) than strikeouts (11) over his brief time as a big leaguer.

Danish has also posted middling numbers as a starter at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, though he showed some improvement this season pitching largely as a reliever in Charlotte, with a 3.01 ERA over 71 2/3 IP and 33 total appearances, 31 of which came out of the bullpen.  Danish doesn’t miss many bats (6.0 K/9 in his minor league career), though he has been able to generate grounders, as his 50.2% ground-ball rate for Charlotte this season actually represents his lowest grounder rate over his six minor league campaigns.

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White Sox Select Rob Scahill, Place Michael Kopech On 60-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-select-rob-scahill-place-michael-kopech-on-60-day-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-select-rob-scahill-place-michael-kopech-on-60-day-dl.html#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2018 19:29:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132495 The White Sox have purchased reliever Rob Scahill’s contract from Triple-A Charlotte and placed right-hander Michael Kopech on the 60-day disabled list, per a team announcement.

Scahill, whom the White Sox signed to a minor league deal last December, is set to pitch in the majors for the first time this year. But Scahill’s addition to Chicago’s roster comes under terrible circumstances for the club, which found out Friday that the prized Kopech, 22, is likely to require Tommy John surgery just four appearances into his big league career.

The 31-year-old Scahill was with Kopech in Charlotte, where the former posted a disastrous 5.64 ERA despite solid peripherals over 60 2/3 innings. Scahill registered 10.53 K/9 against 3.71 BB/9 with a 49.7 percent groundball rate during that span, and he also logged a 3.23 FIP/3.19 xFIP.

A former Rockie, Pirate and Brewer, Scahill carries a decent track record in the majors, where he has recorded a 3.79 ERA/4.66 FIP across 144 2/3 frames. Scahill has managed a passable ERA largely because he has induced grounders at an excellent clip (54.8 percent), somewhat helping to offset subpar strikeout and walk rates of 5.97 and 3.48, respectively.

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Abreu Recovering From Testicular Torsion Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-central-notes-sano-abreu-duffy-phillips.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-central-notes-sano-abreu-duffy-phillips.html#comments Wed, 05 Sep 2018 02:16:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132306
  • White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu told reporters today that the surgery he underwent two weeks ago was to repair a testicular torsion, as Daryl Van-Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The issue “blindsided” Abreu and prompted emergency surgery, but the 31-year-old Abreu thankfully revealed that he is in good health and possibly even nearing a return to the playing field. Abreu expressed optimism about being able to play in a game this weekend, though Van Schouwen notes that both manager Rick Renteria and GM Rick Hahn offered a more cautious timetable and said Abreu could miss another week or so. For now, Abreu is doing light cardio exercises as he works his way back.
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    White Sox Select Jose Ruiz, Outright Matt Skole https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-select-jose-ruiz-outright-matt-skole.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-select-jose-ruiz-outright-matt-skole.html#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2018 18:41:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132270 The White Sox announced today that they have selected the contract of righty Jose Ruiz. To open a 40-man spot, the club outrighted infielder Matt Skole to Triple-A.

    The move on Ruiz is one that the team announced yesterday, so it comes as no surprise. Of course, the exciting news for him was overshadowed by the team’s decision not to promote top-rated prospect Eloy Jimenez.

    As for Skole, 29, he received his first MLB call-up and performed well in four games. But the corner infielder didn’t hit all that much at Triple-A, turning in a .237/.336/.404 slash in five hundred trips to the plate at Charlotte.

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    White Sox Will Not Promote Eloy Jimenez; Will Select Jose Ruiz https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-will-not-promote-eloy-jimenez-will-select-jose-ruiz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/white-sox-will-not-promote-eloy-jimenez-will-select-jose-ruiz.html#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2018 18:17:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132200 The White Sox will not promote their top prospect, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, to the majors this season, general manager Rick Hahn confirmed Monday. Meanwhile, they will select young right-hander Jose Ruiz from Double-A Birmingham, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. Adding Ruiz will require a corresponding 40-man move, as Chicago’s currently at capacity.

    The fact that Jimenez won’t come up this year is no surprise, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported over the weekend that the Triple-A star would not debut in the majors until 2019. Indeed, Hahn said (via Van Schouwen) that Jimenez is “very well positioned to make a significant impact at the big league level” next season. For now, “it’s in everyone’s best interest” for the team to hold off on promoting Jimenez, Hahn added.

    “We’re not trying to develop a 21-year-old DH,” continued Hahn, suggesting Jimenez still has to improve his defense (via James Fegan of The Athletic).

    That may be true, but it won’t win over Jimenez’s agents, who discussed their client with Jon Heyman of Fancred last week.

    “How can you say with a straight face this guy needs to work on anything?” asked one of his representatives, Paul Kinzer. “What’s he need to work on?”

    Meanwhile, fellow Jimenez rep Nelson Montes De Oca suggested service time is the driving force behind Chicago’s decision not to promote him this year. Keeping Jimenez out of the majors until the third week of 2019 campaign will enable the White Sox to control him for an extra year, after all, and it’s clear he has done more than enough offensively to earn a call-up. Since moving from Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte in June, Jimenez has further cemented his place as an elite prospect by slashing an incredible .355/.399/.597 with 12 home runs and a .242 ISO in 228 plate appearances. Next, he’s likely to continue his development in winter ball, per Hahn (via Fegan).

    Unlike Jimenez, Ruiz is far from an elite prospect, but MLB.com does rank him 24th in an impressive Chicago farm system. A former catcher in San Diego’s system, the Padres converted Ruiz into a pitcher but ultimately lost him on waivers to the White Sox last winter. The hard-throwing 23-year-old has a chance to develop into an impact reliever for the White Sox, MLB.com suggests, and he made his mark in Birmingham this season by logging a 3.18 ERA/2.84 FIP with 10.92 K/9 and 3.77 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings.

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    White Sox Reinstate Welington Castillo https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-notes-twins-buxton-white-sox-yankees-boone.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-notes-twins-buxton-white-sox-yankees-boone.html#comments Sun, 02 Sep 2018 16:16:24 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132054
  • The White Sox have reinstated catcher Welington Castillo from the 10-day disabled list, putting him in position to play for the first time since May 23. Castillo landed on the DL with shoulder inflammation on Aug. 23, which came after he served an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Castillo, whom the White Sox signed to a two-year, $15MM contract last winter, began his season well before the suspension, as he hit .267/.309/.466 with six HRs in 123 PAs. While he was out, Chicago primarily turned to Omar Narvaez behind the plate, and he has quietly been among the game’s best offensive backstops this season (.284/.374/.432 in 264 PAs).
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    September Call-Ups: 9/1/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/september-call-ups-9118.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/september-call-ups-9118.html#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2018 21:24:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131982 A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…

    • The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
    • The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.  
    • The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.

    Earlier…

    • The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
    • The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of MLB.com).
    • The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
    • The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
    • After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
    • The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
    • The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
    • The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
    • The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
    • The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
    • The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
    • The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
    • The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
    • The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
    • The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
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