This week, we check in with a few top names discussed in the preseason to see how they are faring. We begin with a pair of recent call-ups.
Here to Stay?
The Red Sox called up Eduardo Rodriguez when they were in need of a sixth starter but ended up so impressed with the lefty’s MLB debut that he is receiving a second start and could conceivably stick with the big league club (at someone else’s expense) with another strong outing. Rodriguez, 22, was acquired from the Orioles last year for Andrew Miller. Rodriguez is a fairly hard thrower for a lefty, reaching the mid-nineties with a plus fastball and offsets that with perhaps an even better changeup. His slider has long been a work in progress but has plus potential and is a swing and miss pitch. What makes Rodriguez special is his ability to combine these pitches with good and still improving command. Over eight Triple-A starts, Rodriguez had an 8.2 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9. Though young, this is a pitcher with nothing left to prove in the Minors and #3 to #2 starter potential.
Slugger in Texas
The injury to Adrian Beltre has resulted in a two-level jump for top power hitting prospect Joey Gallo to the Majors. This is expected to just be a cup of coffee, but Gallo’s power is worthy of note even over the short-term in all fantasy formats. The 21-year-old may be the top pure power hitter in the Minors today. He has a third baseman’s arm, but is fringy at the corner long-term and may be best suited for a left field or first base (or DH) slot. At the plate, Gallo is having an improved second go around in Double-A with a .314/.425/.636 line with nine homers. The lefty reminds me quite a bit of Adam Dunn as a patient, all or nothing power hitter who should produce solid OBPs and be a constant 30+, if not 40 HR threat. Completing that Adam Dunn picture are the strikeout rates in excess of a third of the time. In other words, hitting .240 may be a good year and there could be some seasons where Mendoza line battles a la Chris Carter may also occur.
In unfortunate news, David Dahl suffered a lacerated spleen and will miss the rest of the season. The 21-year-old Colorado Rockie outfielder appeared to just be getting things going when the fielding collision occurred. When healthy, Dahl is an intriguing centerfield prospect known for his speed and quick bat. He still has 20-20 potential but will now lose most of a year’s development time.
The Mariners entered 2015 with a lot of question marks at first base and hoped D.J. Peterson might cruise through Triple-A and perhaps answer those questions by becoming their first baseman by mid-season. Instead, Peterson has struggled to hit, producing a .211/.284/.298 line after hitting over 30 homers between two minor league levels in 2014. His plate discipline numbers have not radically altered from his previous efforts, so that at least provides some room for optimism that he is simply dealing with an extended slow start and hopefully is not dealing with any undisclosed injuries that are holding him back. Logan Morrison still has not run away with the Mariners first base job, so Peterson owners should continue to be patient given the potential for a big league opportunity.
Unfortunately, Peterson is not the only former first-round pick of the Mariners who is struggling. 2014 first-rounder Alex Jackson has been hampered by a shoulder injury, so one cannot get a true read on his skills. In his first full season of pro-ball, his power has yet to show up while his approach at the plate has not been as good, striking out close to 30% of the time while walking less than 6%. At 19, he has plenty of time to fulfill his promise as a patient, right-handed power hitter. But he’s walking a rather fine line given his skill set and limited speed and defensive tools.
For those waiting on Sean Manaea to begin his season, keep waiting. The 23-year-old 2013 supplemental first-round pick has missed the entire season thus far thanks to a variety of strains and has now injured his oblique which should keep him out until late June. The good news is that none of these injuries are in any way career threatening. The bad news is that Manaea already has a history of being somewhat fragile and this only adds to that legacy. On the good side, the lefty posted a 10.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in his pro debut at A+ in 2014. While his command and mechanics can be inconsistent, he does have the stuff and makings of a middle of the rotation starter.
Hunter Dozier has not been able to crack .230 in two seasons now in Triple-A. The 2013 sixth overall pick originally impressed with his plate discipline, quick bat, glove and upper teens, if not better, power potential. Since his debut, it has been a descent. While he continues to be very patient, his ability to make contact has declined and it may be a sign that he is simply being too passive at the plate. With Mike Moustakas enjoying a breakthrough season, Dozier will really need to turn things around to force the issue to get playing time at another position.
The Cubs have seen the rise of Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant already in 2015, but they still have more in store for their fans. Catcher Kyle Schwarber was the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He rampaged through three levels after being drafted last year and has followed up strongly at Double-A with 12 homers and a .327/.454/.633 line. Within that stat line is a 20% walk rate and 21% strikeout rate. Schwarber’s glove continues to be a question mark and a move to the outfield would not be shocking. This is a .300 AVG, 25+ HR threat they’ll want in their lineup as early as this September, though more likely in 2016.