6 MLB Prospects That Could Get Called Up In The Second Half
It’s that time of the year for teams in the playoff hunt. Last year we saw Manny Machado get for the Baltimore Orioles, en route to fuelling a 2nd half playoff run, which eventually resulted in the Orioles securing a Wild Card Spot and beating out the Texas Rangers for an eventual berth in the the ALDS. If you guessed “call-ups”, you’re right on the dot. Acquiring players to generate that extra push via the trade market is not always an ideal option, so buckle up ladies and gentlemen, the prospect watch has begun. Here are ten guys that could get their promotions and contribute to their teams immediately.
1. Marcus Stroman – The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t really looking for bullpen help, but they need some serious help. In a perfect world, Stroman would step in and gain some valuable MLB experience in the bullpen while helping the Blue Jays with their playoff push ala Matt Moore, but that doesn’t seem to be very likely at the minute. What is more likely is that the Jays decimated starting rotation continues to wither which would eventually lead to a Stroman call up out of necessity and curiosity. Stroman is considered “small” as a starting pitcher, he stands 5’9 and only weighs 185lbs but he makes up for it with a live arm. He has two pitches with projected “plus” upside, his fastball, which ranges between around 92 – 95mph and features some natural life and sink and his slider, a sharp pitch with a two-plane break which he has a lot of confidence in. Stroman has pitched well in AA New Hampshire this year, compiling a “3.16 ERA/1.085WHIP/9.8 SO/9” slash rate. Look for Stroman to step in and get some games under his belt this year as a starting pitcher with the Jays if they continue to float at the bottom of the AL East.
2. Oscar Taveras – The St Louis Cardinals are sitting atop the NL Central but unlike recent years, it’s not a comfortable seat for the Cards yet. The Pittsburgh Pirates, only 2 games behind them are in swift pursuit of that division lead and it may not be long before the Cardinals make the phone call for Taveras’ services. The big Dominican outfielder profiles a sweet left handed power swing and projects as an all star in the near future. Taveras has been gifted with elite hitting tools, including incredible eye-hand co-ordination, bat speed and hand speed. Some scouts believe Taveras is so good that he could “be hitting 280+ in the majors right now, and 300+ in the near future.” They look to be on the right track as Taveras is raking in AAA Memphis to the tune of a .341OBP/.462Slug/.803OPS. Albert Pujols who?
3. Billy Hamilton – Things are getting interesting in the NL Central as once again, as it has once again turned out into an all out war between three teams. The Cincinnati Reds are one of the three, and they could really use another outfielder right now. Billy Hamilton looks to be that guy. Even though he has struggled with his bat in AAA Louisville this year, the clock is ticking on control the team has of him and the Reds are really in need of a better defensive outfielder than Shin-Soo Choo. Hamilton is an excellent defender, fuelled largely in part by his game changing speed. Hamilton became something of a legend last year even while still in the minors by stealing 155 bases across Single-A and Double-A, setting a new record for stolen bases in a season. Unfortunately, Hamilton’s bat hasn’t really translated into one that is Major League ready. Nonetheless, Hamilton has so much speed that he doesn’t need to do much with the bat at all to be an impact player. If Hamilton could manage to hit .260 in the Majors he could carve out an extremely effective Major League Career. If not, get used to seeing him in a platoon/pinch runner role very often. I’m not lying, this guy is BLAZING fast.
4. Jameson Taillon – Another NL Central prospect, Taillon is currently in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system and could get the call sooner rather than later. It could be as soon as now, as the Pirates are constantly looking for depth in their bullpen/rotation in order to bolster their chances for their long anticipated post-season run. “A Monster power arm with a high ceiling” is what Taillon is described as by scouts and this is no exaggeration. Taillon has been known to dial the radar gun at triple digits from time to time and when you couple that with a curveball that has been rated as a “plus” pitch, Taillon has major league ace written all over him.
5. Nick Castellanos – The Detroit Tigers haven’t had a true “top prospect” since the days of Cameron Maybin in 2007, but they’ve finally found one in Castellanos. The Tigers have an available spot in left field, due to Andy Dirks being unable to replicate his success in 2012 and though Castellanos is billed as a 3rd baseman, he is also capable of playing a corner outfield spot, due to his raw arm strength and offensive prowess. Castellanos has hit well in AAA Toledo this year, compiling a .354OBP/.451Slug/.805OPS slash line along with 12 hrs in 401 ABS. You’d like to see a little more power from him, but his 29 doubles suggest there could be more power to come in the near future as he starts to adjust to better pitching.
6. Taijuan Walker – Walker is the odd breed of baseball prospect that combines qualities the both loved by the “old school” and the “new age” scouts. He’s got the “perfect look”, standing at 6-4 and 195lbs, throws his fastball in the high 90’s and just oozes good makeup whenever he takes the mound. From a pitchability standpoint, he’s got late, natural life on his fastball due to his long limbs, and features a truly elite Curveball. Walker ripped up AA Jackson to the tune of a “2.46ERA/1.038 WHIP/10.3SO/9” and recently earned his promotion to AAA Tacoma, where he has only given up 2 ER’s in 4 Starts. While the Seattle Mariners certainly have nothing to play for at this point, this doesn’t rule out the calling up of prized prospect Taijuan Walker. If you can recall, a couple years ago, the Seattle Mariners called up a pitching prospect of a similar pedigree to Taijuan Walker. This particular prospect flourished after he learned the MLB game and has become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball today. His name? King Felix Hernandez. Don’t blink guys but Taijuan Walker and Felix Hernandez could be competing against each other for the AL Cy Young Award in a couple of years.