MLB Prospect Watch: Mitch Keller and three other up-and-comers that could get the call in September
We'd like to see what Luis Robert, Sixto Sanchez, and Ryan Mountcastle could do with a promotion to the Show
In last week's edition of Prospect Watch, we covered a handful of youngsters who could help their teams in a pennant race. This week, we're flipping the script and looking at prospects whose organizations aren't competitive, but who we'd like to see brought up in September.
We'll admit to being inspired in part by Mitch Keller's recent recall to the majors. Although his first few starts in the Show haven't gone well, there's still reason to think he'll be a productive member of the Pirates rotation for years to come -- namely his high-quality fastball-curveball combination. Whether or not Keller ever lives up to the expectations of the past will hinge on the further development of his consistency and changeup.
Therein is one of the great secrets of prospects: there's no seldom one who reaches the majors fully fleshed out. Heck, you wouldn't want a prospect to be tapped out developmentally by the time they reach the game's highest level -- otherwise they'd be unable to make the necessary adjustments that help separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.
With that in mind, here are three others we're hoping to see before the year ends. Do note we're not saying these players will or necessarily should be brought up -- just that we'd like to see them. There is a difference.'
Mountcastle, 22, has spent the year in Triple-A, where he's hit .314/.341/.516 with 20 homers and 27 doubles. He hasn't yet seen big-league action despite the Orioles' woeful state due in part to a swing-happy approach (he has more than six times as many strikeouts as walks) and because he lacks a defensive home. Although he's primarily played first base this year, he's been playing more left as of late -- that could be a hint of where he'll roam once he's promoted. It's fair to wonder how his game will translate to the majors; it's also fair to say we won't know for certain until he gets an opportunity. In our opinion, it's about time for that chance.
Truth be told, we doubt Robert gets the call. He's on his third level of the season already, and has fewer than 30 games of Triple-A experience. Nonetheless, Robert is a fun prospect with an impressive stat line, having hit .334/.386/.615 across the upper minors. He has middle-of-the-order potential if goes according to projection, and should form a fun corner-outfield combination with Eloy Jimenez as soon as he gets the call.
Sanchez was the headliner in the J.T. Realmuto return. He's a short right-hander with a lively arm who has a 2.61 ERA and 5.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 93 innings at Double-A. The Marlins used to be an aggressive org when it came to skipping their young pitchers past Triple-A, and did pull that trick with Jordan Yamamoto. Our guess is that Sanchez instead follows the route taken by Sandy Alcantara, who made 19 Triple-A starts before being brought up. In other words, see you next summer, Sixto.
For a look at fantasy baseball, our Scott White shares his latest musing from the farm,.
Now, onto the Watch.
|Joshua Rojas, the fourth piece of the Zack Greinke return, was promoted to the majors on Monday. He should turn into a utility player at worst.|
|A good name to remember: Victor Vodnik, a smallish right-hander who'll probably end up a reliever -- but, potentially, a good one thanks to his fastball-breaking ball combination.|
|The No. 21 pick in the 2017 draft, DL Hall has pitched better since July. His command still needs improving if he's going to fulfill his promise.|
|Switch-hitting teenage outfielder Gilberto Jimenez can really run. He's an extreme groundball hitter and he needs a lot of work on the finer aspects of his game, but he's sporting some pretty numbers in A-ball.|
|Kohl Franklin has a good fastball and big frame. He's also struck out 36 batters in 29 innings this season. |
|Right-hander Jonathan Stiever will keep climbing prospect lists for the White Sox.|
|Jonathan India is looking more like a top-five pick since being promoted to Double-A. |
|The No. 24 pick in June's draft, Daniel Espino has fanned 14 hitters in his first 10 innings. That'll play.|
|It's fair to write Grant Lavigne has had a disappointing season. He won't turn 20 until late in the month, though, so he still has plenty of time to get back on track.|
|Bryan Garcia and his above-average fastball could factor into Detroit's bullpen sooner than later.|
|Switch-hitting third baseman Abraham Toro should hit his way into the majors in 2020. He doesn't have a great glove, and Houston already has a third baseman anyway, so it's unclear if and/or how he'll fit into the Astros' long-term plans.|
|The well-named Brewer Hicklen has more raw power than his numbers suggest, and is a well-above-average runner. Strikeouts have been a problem for him -- and could end up being his downfall. |
|The Rays once paid Adrian Rondon close to $3 million to sign as a teenager. He's since been dealt to the Angels, where he's found no more success than before.|
|Outfielder D.J. Peters should make his big-league debut in 2020. He has well-above-average power.|
|J.J. Bleday hasn't taken well to pro ball just yet. But there's no need to worry.|
|Drew Rasmussen has had multiple elbow operations. Nonetheless, he has good stuff and could factor into Milwaukee's bullpen as early as next summer.|
|You wonder if Nelson Cruz's injury would have led to Brent Rooker's call-up. Unfortunately, Rooker hasn't played in a month due to an injury of his own.|
|As we noted over the weekend, Tim Tebow's season is done. He is expected to return to the Mets in 2020 -- and based on his age and performance, it might be his last run.|
|Nick Nelson gets overlooked in the Yankees system, but he has a good fastball and should pitch in the majors someday soon.|
|The only tool 5-foot-8 infielder Nick Allen doesn't have is pop. He's holding his own in High-A, and we're intrigued to see how he fares in Double-A -- even if we'll have to wait until next season to find out.|
|Erik Miller has made easy work of the low minors. He could be one of the steals of the draft if the Phillies can help him with his consistency and his command.|
|Aaron Shortridge's arsenal is more fringe than anything, but he's done fine in High-A and could someday look the part of a back-end starter.|
|No matter what you think about Ty France as a prospect, do note he's getting near the finish line on a .400 season in Triple-A.|
|Sean Hjelle was recently promoted to Double-A. He's listed at 6-foot-11 and has the chance to be a mid-rotation starter if all breaks right.|
|Jarred Kelenic was also promoted to Double-A. It's safe to say the Mariners are happy with the headliner in the Robinson Cano return.|
|Austin Warner could be a good story -- he's a former nondrafted free agent with average stuff who could reach the majors within the next year.|
|Moises Gomez has had a disappointing season. He's still young and there's time for him to regain some of his lost shine.|
|Southpaw Brock Burke looks like a savvy acquisition by the Rangers.|
|Griffin Conine missed the first 50 games of the season after testing positive for Ritalin, but he's made up for lost time by hitting well in A-ball.|
|The Nationals acquired former big-bonus baby Gilbert Lara in last year's Gio Gonzalez deal. He remains a much better fielder than hitter, as his 35-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in High-A indicates. |
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