Where there's smoke, there's fire, right? Well, how's this for smoke?
"From what I saw in spring training, I do think he can handle it," manager Terry Collins said of top prospect Amed Rosario after Asdrubal Cabrera suffered a thumb injury of unknown severity Saturday, according to the New York Post. "We've got a clubhouse full of guys that can certainly help him. But that will be Sandy's call."
All right, then. What say you, Sandy?
"If we have a need at this point in the season, would we consider it? Yes," general manager Sandy Alderson said that same night.
Turns out the Mets didn't have a need. Cabrera only jammed the thumb, so he didn't go on the DL at all. But how often do you see actual decision-makers tip their hand like that on a top prospect, particularly in that market?
Collins and Alderson aren't new to this. They're two of the oldest at their respective positions and have been filling those positions for the Mets for more than half a decade. No matter what they said, the impending arrival of the organization's top prospect would be an ongoing storyline, but by choosing not to outright deny he's anywhere close to ready, they've given up control of the narrative.
The Amed Rosario watch is officially on.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Yoan Moncada, 3B, White Sox
2016 minors: .294 BA (405 AB), 15 HR, 45 SB, .918 OPS, 72 BB, 124 K
2017 minors: .345 BA (113 AB), 6 HR, 8 SB, .967 OPS, 15 BB, 34 K
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is fairly new to this, but he has the right idea: Denial affords you more options. And so not surprisingly, this report (or, um, tweet) came out Tuesday night, just when beat writers were beginning to settle into the "any day now" rhetoric.
But "seeing all the proof" is some seriously vague criteria, and Moncada has at least revealed much of the proof over the past week, batting .478 (11 for 23) with a homer and two steals in six games. The strikeout concerns seem overblown with the way Cody Bellinger is performing in the majors right now, and Moncada has improved in that area in recent days anyway. May 14 is the magic date when the White Sox can promote him without losing a year of team control. I say he's up by the end of the month.
Amed Rosario, SS, Mets
2016 minors: .324 BA (479 AB), 5 HR, 19 SB, .833 OPS, 40 BB, 87 K
2017 minors: .371 BA (124 AB), 2 HR, 7 SB, .921 OPS, 9 BB, 18 K
He's all the way up to No. 2 now, this second coming of Francisco Lindor. Unfair comparison? Yeah, maybe. The scouting reports are comparable, but Rosario has actually been better in the minors than Lindor was. He wasn't a consensus top-10 prospect just for his defense, after all. He'll make plenty of contact, hit a bunch of gappers that occasionally clear the fence and steal enough bases to make an immediate impact at a thin position. Another couple weeks of this and I'm not sure Asdrubal Cabrera's health will even matter. The 31-year-old is in the last year of his contract anyway.
Jose Berrios, SP, Twins
2016 majors: 3-7, 8.02 ERA, 1.87 WHIP, 58 1/3 IP, 35 BB, 49 K
2017 minors: 3-0, 1.13 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 39 2/3 IP, 8 BB, 39 K
Remember when Nick Tepesch got the first chance to replace Kyle Gibson in the Twins rotation? Yeah, that was funny. Or what about when Adalberto Mejia got the first shot at the fifth starter job out of spring training? It didn't go so well. The need for damage control has the Twins rethinking their stance on Berrios, who has been beyond brilliant at Triple-A Rochester so far. Though they worry the same command issues that plagued him in the majors last year aren't fully resolved, they're not outright dismissing him as an option for Saturday's opening, which makes him worth a flier if you're desperate for pitching.
2016 minors: .281 BA (462 AB), 10 HR, 30 SB, .753 OPS, 36 BB, 90 K
2017 spring: .347 BA (121 AB), 4 HR, 3 SB, .924 OPS, 9 BB 38 K
Still no movement on the Barreto front because the Athletics seem content just to sink in the standings. (Where's your competitive spirit, Billy Beane?) Still, there isn't another prospect of Barreto's caliber who not only merits a call-up (just look at those numbers) but also has the opportunity (Marcus Semien being down and all) and immediate Fantasy appeal (who doesn't need a shortstop?). If it happens suddenly, as these things sometimes do, you'll have beaten the rush.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies
2016 minors: .281 BA (498 AB), 38 HR, 116 RBI, .943 OPS, 71 BB, 125 K
2017 minors: .330 BA (103 AB), 8 HR, 21 RBI, 1.043 OPS, 14 BB, 20 K
I want to get out ahead of this one, because while it's true Hoskins didn't get a lot of prospect love coming into the year, the reason for it has since proven invalid. His 38 homers last year, the second-most in the minors, weren't just a product of notoriously hitter-friendly Double-A Reading. He's actually on an even better home run pace at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, showing power to all fields, and with the kind of plate discipline that suggests he's not just some single-minded slugger. You know who else didn't get much prospect love despite stellar production? Paul Goldschmidt, so you'll want to have this 24-year-old stashed whenever the Phillies move on from Tommy Joseph.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies
2016 minors: .328 BA (528 AB), 8 HR, 23 SB, .819 OPS, 27 BB, 61 K
2017 minors: .405 BA (111 AB), 15 2B, 3 3B, 8 SB, 1.030 OPS, 6 BB, 16 K
The best contact hitter in the minors has absolutely nothing more to prove there, and while his complete lack of home runs would seem to make him an awkward fit for today's game, his doubles total suggests there may be some sock in his stick still. Playing half his games at Coors Field, with the BABIP boost it provides, it's not too outlandish to think he could be the next Starling Marte, but the Rockies clearly don't have an opening for him now.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
2016 minors: .285 BA (432 AB), 9 HR, 32 SB, .798 OPS, 50 BB, 81 K
2017 minors: .303 BA (109 AB), 8 HR, 10 SB, 1.046 OPS, 14 BB, 31 K
Whatever concerns anyone may have had about Tucker's power profile last year the 20-year-old has definitively put to rest this year, delivering back-to-back two-homer games this week. Of course, at his age, you had to figure he had more development ahead of him. Baseball America ranked the former fifth overall pick a top-20 prospect across all organizations coming into the year, and Tucker is clearly a hot commodity in dynasty leagues right now.
Kolby Allard, SP, Braves
2016 minors: 8-3, 2.98 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 87 2/3 IP, 25 BB, 95 K
2017 minors: 3-1, 1.38 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 39 IP, 9 BB, 31 K
If a 20-year-old like Tucker still has some development ahead of him, what about a 19-year-old like Allard? The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft is already carving up Double-A, giving credence to the belief he would have gone earlier if not for a back injury late in his high school career. The strikeout rate leaves a little to be desired, but he did whiff 11 batters in six innings two outings ago and is still just discovering himself as a pitcher. If he continues to make it look this easy, though, it's possible he's up at some point in 2018.
Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
2016 minors: 5-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 134 IP, 45 BB, 126 K
2017 minors: 5-0, 0.69 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 39 1/3 IP, 5 BB, 40 K
Remember how Luke Weaver elevated himself from middling prospect to organizational standout with an eye-popping performance at Double-A Springfield last year? Flaherty is doing the same thing this year. It's not that he never got any attention in the lower minors, but his secondary arsenal (which features three potentially above-average pitches) didn't develop as quickly as hoped, leading to so-so numbers there. That appears to have changed this year. The real eye-opener was a two-hit, 12-strikeout effort against Northwest Arkansas on Friday.
Luis Urias, 2B, Padres
2016 minors: .333 BA (475 AB), 6 HR, 8 SB, .850 OPS, 45 BB, 37 K
2017 minors: .339 BA (118 AB), 2 HR, 3 SB, .944 OPS, 21 BB, 17 K
Kind of like Raimel Tapia in that he's a player out of his time, Urias continues to make contact at an exceptional rate while also showing improved plate discipline, making him the sort of on-base machine that would profile in any era. And this year, it's not even in the hitter-friendly California League. He's overshadowed in an organization that has recently seen an influx of talent in the lower minors, but he could emerge as a Joe Panik or perhaps even Placido Polanco type in the majors.