As we approach the Major League All-Star break, I’ve seen quite a few of the prospects I reviewed back in January who have already made an impact in the show.
Note: Each of these players are listed under the level that they are currently at, but will include their stats at all levels. All statistics are through Saturday’s games, and courtesy of Baseball Reference.
Carlos was called up on June 11th, and has continued to hit at a torrid pace ever since. I wrote back in mid-May that I thought he would be called up sometime after the expected Super-Two deadline, and that is pretty much exactly what happened. Over at FakeTeams, I ranked Santana as my 5th best catcher for the remainder of the season, and I think that’s probably pretty accurate. He’s going to continue to hit for an excellent average, and the power looks legitimate, even if there is some minor regression. At the end of last season, I owned the rights to both Carlos Santana and Buster Posey in my 14-team keeper league. During our minor league draft, I traded Posey for Ryan Westmoreland and a draft pick towards the end of the draft. That pick? Used to take Michael Pineda.
Stanton was called up on June 8th, in a much quieter debut than the other major rookie on that date, Stephen Strasburg. Stanton hasn’t quite shown the power in the Majors that he did in his minor league career to this point, but that was probably asking a bit much of the rookie. The 3 stolen bases to this point seem a bit out of place, as he only had 8 total in his 4 minor league seasons, but that could just be a fluke. I think that realistically he’s going to continue to experience some growing pains, and until the strikeouts get a bit more under control (33 so far in only 78 at bats), he’s going to continue to struggle.
Posey was called up on May 29th, but strangely it was to play 1B for the most part. The Giants’ main concern was to get the top prospect’s bat into the lineup, and not worry too much about having him catch immediately. He has been playing nearly every day, but has only just now started to catch every day with the trade of former starting catcher Bengie Molina to the Giants. I will be interested to see how he continues to hit now that he will be catching every day, and it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on the pitching staff. Posey has been widely touted for his ability to work with a pitching staff, but until it actually happens there is always the chance of something going wrong.
Heyward is currently on the disabled list for the Braves, after a thumb injury that occurred late in May apparently, but did not sideline him until late June. This is probably at least a part of the explanation as to why Heyward struggled so much in the month of June. He was the prohibitive favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award after the month of May, but if he is out for an extended period of time, this race could pretty easily get away from him with as many good rookies as there are this season.
Castro has been a bit of an enigma to this point in his Major League career. It was a big surprise that he was called up when he was, but it was thought he would be able to adapt pretty easily despite being only 20 years old. His average has been solid, but not amazing. But his power seems to have disappeared entirely, and his speed is not far behind it. The part that really concerns me about Castro is the fact that in 50 games, he already has 11 errors. Granted, you can’t get errors on balls you don’t make a play on, so this partially could be the reason he has so many. It seems unlikely to me at this point that the Cubs would send him down to improve, as the Cubs are going nowhere this season.
Matusz, it was hoped, would help to lead this team’s pitching staff this season along with veteran Kevin Millwood. Unfortunately, the Orioles’ offense and defense forgot to help with that. Matusz has a league worst 9 losses this season, but there are signs of hope. He has a strikeout rate of 6.83 per 9 innings, and his FIP is lower than his ERA (4.25 vs. 4.90), so there does appear to be hope for Matusz. Until this team starts hitting like they mean it, it’s probably going to be some tough-luck losses in the future for Brian Matusz.
Jennings has missed some time this season due to an injury, and it appears that the Rays are extremely unlikely to call him up this season. The Rays have done well with their starting outfield of Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Ben Zobrist, and have had both Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez fill in as necessary. Jennings still looks like an elite prospect, and seems like to be up at the start of the 2011 season, as Crawford is still a free agent at the end of the season and seems unlikely to be resigned due to money concerns. I still think Jennings is an elite prospect, although I am wondering how long until the power comes.
Back in January, I wrote that I thought the best thing for the Yankees to do with Montero would be to continue to leave him in the minors and allow him to develop as a catcher, so that they could use him as the long-term replacement to Jorge Posada following Posada’s eventual retirement. At this point, I would say that they need to figure out a different position for him long term. Montero is probably not ever going to be an elite caliber catcher, and with the Yankees having 3 excellent catching prospect also in the minors (Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy) in addition to Montero, they can probably work on letting him hit and just assume he is likely to end up either in the outfield or as a DH.
Brown is a player who is vaulting himself to the top of prospect rankings with his amazing performance down at AA. Clearly, if he can continue a majority of the pace he is on so far, he looks like he will be a perennial 30-30 threat with a high batting average. There have been rumors that the Phillies may try to move Jayson Werth to help improve other areas of the team and insert Brown into the everyday RF job, but that seems a bit rushed. I would like to see the Phillies leave Brown down at AAA for the rest of the season, and give him the opportunity to win the RF job out of Spring Training in 2011.
Hudson has done everything that the White Sox had hoped and more, but unfortunately no one in the starting rotation is really pitching all that badly. The White Sox are correct to leave him down there starting if that is what they hope to use him for long-term, and at some point he is likely to get a shot. It would help if the Sox would fall out of the race, but Hudson could potentially be moved for a short-term piece if they think they still have a chance to win it all this season. I’m not sure where that would come from, but stranger things have happened.
Carter has been a bit of an enigma so far at AAA. The power is still there, although not to the same extent has it had been in AA. The batting average is clearly not where he was in AA, but with the amount of strikeouts that he normally racks up, this isn’t that much of a surprise. The concerning part to me is two fold – He hasn’t even attempted a stolen base this season after trying 19 times with 13 successes. Also, the strikeout rate has gotten worse, as he already has 94 strikeouts in only 81 games. The A’s don’t have a place to play him right now at the Major League level, and realistically, he’s not shown that he’s ready for it either. If the A’s were in the heat of the pennant race, they might have brought him up to provide some pop to the lineup, but since they aren’t, I don’t think he sees Oakland this season except when he passes it in his car.
Alonso has become the subject of some trade rumors for the Reds, as he realistically should be a first baseman at the Major League level. Unfortunately, that position is manned by a potential MVP candidate in Joey Votto, and looks like it will be for quite some time. The Reds have been trying him in the outfield, but it appears that may be at least somewhat affecting his ability to hit at AAA, as he has struggled so far.
Pineda came into the season as a bit of an unknown, but is now rocketing up the prospect rankings for a lot of the experts as he continues his excellent performance from last season. He’s earned a promotion to AAA recently, and the poor performance overall by the Mariners makes me wonder if he may see a September call-up. The strikeout numbers have been dominant, with over 1 per inning so far at both levels. This one is really making me look pretty good so far in my keeper league.
Tomorrow, the rest of the prospects down at AA and below.