The All-Star Game is over and pennant races are heating up (for many teams). On the other side of the coin, there are a handful of teams that are playing for next season and beyond. Those teams usually have a stockpile of prospects on the verge of making their MLB debuts.
This post features the game’s top prospects and their estimated time of arrival.
Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Javier Baez and others have their team’s fans drooling. Fans are usually impatient when it comes to prospects…especially if their team is near the bottom of the standings.
Which top prospects are expected to be called up this season? Which prospects will need a little more seasoning in the Minors?
Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins) – ETA: 2015
Buxton had an injury early this year that derailed his imminent debut this season. He is regarded as the game’s top prospect. The Twins might even hold off on bringing him up until after the Super Two cut-off next season…unless they sign him to a team-friendly contract (a la George Springer).
Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs) – ETA: 2015
Bryant is absolutely raking in the Minors. He already has 33 homers in 378 at-bats split between Double-A and Triple-A. He is no doubt ready for the Majors, but the Cubs have no need to rush their prospects through the Minors. Bryant has already been fast-tracked, but I see Chicago playing it safe here.
Miguel Sano (Minnesota Twins) – ETA: 2015
Sano should have made his debut this season, but he suffered a nasty injury early this season. He is out the remainder of the season. I expect the Twins to be cautious with him next season and could spend the first few months in the Minors.
Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs) – ETA: 2015
Two months ago, I would said Baez was destined for a 2014 call-up. He didn’t start out the season very well, but has turned things around of late. The Cubs need to find a place to play him. He’s a natural shortstop, but their acquisition of Addison Russell has made his future position unclear. I expect him to either end up at second base or in the outfield.
Addison Russell (Chicago Cubs) – ETA: 2015
If Russell has stayed in Oakland, a September call-up was likely in his future. Even though Chicago heavily scouted Russell, I don’t know if they would bring him up. Starlin Castro is having an All-Star season at shortstop, so again, the Cubs need to get their house in order before I see him in pinstripes. An offseason of trades and roster maneuvering needs to happen.
Carlos Correa (Houston Astros) – ETA: 2016
Correa recently suffered a nasty ankle injury sliding into a base and he’s nowhere close to a call-up this season. He has the chance to be a special player for Houston, so they are taking their time with the youngster. The front office made a statement with George Springer and Jonathan Singleton by working out a contract before their call-ups. I believe this will be their M.O. going forward.
Mark Appel (Houston Astros) – ETA: 2015/16
I’m worried about Mr. Appel. He was drafted #8 by the Pirates in 2012, but he held-out. He waited out the year and was then drafted #1 overall by Houston the following year. The year away from the game was not kind to him. He had the worst-ever season for any high college draft pick. Houston hoped to fast-track him to the Majors, but he needs fixed before that happens. If Appel turns out to be a bust, history will not be kind to Houston. They passed on guys like Kris Bryant, Austin Meadows and Jonathan Gray to take Appel. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, may have dodged a bullet with Appel holding out.
Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers) – ETA: 2015
I love Pederson. If L.A. didn’t inflate their payroll after new ownership took over, he would already be in the Majors. Their current outfield situation is a mess and I don’t see any team taking on Carl Crawford’s contract (possibly Matt Kemp’s contract). Pederson has the tools to be a future 30/30 guy in the Majors. He’s one of my top prospects. The Dodgers could call him up in September, but I don’t see any of the egos in their outfield taking a seat for a rookie on a regular basis.
Archie Bradley (Arizona Diamondbacks) – ETA: 2015
It seems like Bradley has been on top prospects lists for half a decade, but it has only been three seasons. He had an injury that kept him from pitching, but is now getting stretched out in Double-A. He has an outside-shot at being called-up, but he was crushed in Triple-A last season. They need to take their time with Bradley. He would benefit from another year in the Minors.
Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers) – ETA: 2015
Gallo already has 35 homers in 410 at-bats in-between High-A and Double-A. Those numbers jump out of the page, but what doesn’t jump out quite as much is his strikeout rate. He has struck out 135 times. I know he has hit for a high average in the minors, but he will be lucky to hit .200 with that kind of strikeout rate in the Majors. He needs more seasoning and I think the earliest he will see the pros would be late-2015.
Jorge Soler (Chicago Cubs) – ETA: 2014
Soler signed a nine-year/$30 million deal with the Cubs in 2012. They decided to wait on the slugger to develop. He was just recently promoted to Triple-A, but Soler is already on the Cubs 40-man roster. He is in the Cubs long-term plans and they might want to see what he can do when the rosters expand.
Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians) – ETA: 2014
I put Lindor’s estimated time of arrival at 2014, because I don’t think Cleveland will be in the playoff race late in the season. He was just promoted to Triple-A and looks ready for the Majors. He has all the tools defensively and offensively to have him hit lead-off for the next decade.
Jon Gray (Colorado Rockies) – ETA: 2015
I fell in love with Gray during the 2013 MLB Draft coverage. I actually wanted the Cubs to draft him, but in hindsight, I’m glad they went with Kris Bryant. Gray has dominated High-A and Double-A the last two seasons, but as a college pitcher, that is to be expected. I’m intrigued with him, since Colorado isn’t kind to pitchers. I think he has the kind of stuff that could do well, even in the high altitude.
Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA: 2015
Bundy should already be a starter in the Majors, but he missed the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery. He was once the #1 prospect in all of baseball. He probably won’t be in the Majors at the beginning of next year, but he will be at some point.
Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) – ETA: 2016
He’s only 20 years old and he has been killing batters in Low-A. They hope he will become what Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg have yet to become in the Majors…a dominant #1 starter. He has all the tools and I’m excited to watch him develop.
Henry Owens (Boston Red Sox) – ETA: 2015
If Boston can’t sign Jon Lester to a long-term deal (or trade him), they already have a replacement waiting in the wings. Owens is currently 13-4 in Double-A with a 2.56 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 116 innings. He’s 6’6 and has the build to be a power pitcher in the Majors.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.