In movie parlance, a “long shot” is a scene taken from a considerable distance. It is not short by definition and is generally meant to place the plot in its specific surroundings. When Alejandro Jodorowsky mentioned the long shot of the initial scene of Orson Welles’ 1958 masterpiece Touch of Evil while discussing Dune, a movie he never made, my mind drifted over to baseball. A reasonable jump, given the season. So, who are the long shots to reach the Majors this year? I have sifted through the 2016 minor league statistics and corresponding news and in the process I have collected a list of players who may be called up to the Majors later in the season. They may not be true long shots, but they are all worthy of consideration and should be stashed on your bench if you have room for one or two of them. If you do not have an empty spot now, you may want to revisit this list later in the season.
All of these players have been performing exceedingly well in their respective leagues as of the end of April. Some are an injury away from being brought up. Some others are going to be given the opportunity to prove themselves, particularly if they play for teams that are in rebuilding mode.
The first name that I jotted down when I began the analysis of minor league teams was that of Michael Fulmer, one of the Tigers’ top prospects, who was at the time in Triple-A Toledo. Since then, Fulmer was called up, sooner than I expected. He pitched last Friday (Win, 5 innings, 7 hits, 2 ER, 4 K), making his case to remain in the Majors. See Lawr’s article from yesterday, "More Rescue Arms", for more information about him. If you have roster room, keep an eye on Fulmer and on the players listed below.
Clayton Blackburn, SP, Giants: Currently sporting an ERA of 2.89 with the Sacramento River Cats, Blackburn could help the Giants’ bullpen sometime soon.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres: Last week’s recipient of the Pacific League Player of the Week award, Renfroe is batting .339 and is believed by many to be ready to jump to the Majors this year.
Stefen Romero, OF/1B, Mariners: His performance in the Pacific League is making it impossible for the club to ignore him.
Mark Appel, SP, Phillies: Strong candidate for a promotion should the Phillies’ rotation need an extra arm.
Kevin Newman, SS, Pirates: Hitting .388 in High-A.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers: Batting .267 in Double-A and also brings a good glove. He could be ready to jump to the Majors if the Rangers need him.
Brett Phillips, OF, Brewers: One of the top prospects in Double-A, Phillips will likely move up to Triple-A later this season. He's a long shot for a promotion to the Majors this year, but it's possible.
Sean Newcomb, SP, Braves: Currently in Double-A and doing well, Newcomb could arrive later in the season, though he is the longest shot on this list.
Taylor Featherston, 2B/3B, Phillies: Batting .432 in the International League, Featherston is an injury away from being promoted.
By the way, if you are a science fiction movie fan, I strongly recommend the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. It should not be missed.