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Minor League Barometer: Wil's Phone is not Ringing

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

With June approaching fast, and with it the Super-2 deadline, there could be a bevy of call-ups to the majors coming shortly. We've already seen teams that could not wait any longer, promoting phenoms like Jurickson Profar, Jake Odorizzi and Tyler Skaggs long before baseball's summer solstice. Some names to keep track of in particular, who have not made their 2013 debuts as of yet? Pitchers Zack Wheeler of the Mets, Kyle Gibson of the Twins, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton of the Mariners and Gerrit Cole of the Pirates. On the hitting side, we could see Mike Zunino, Billy Hamilton and perhaps even Christian Yelich and Oscar Taveras before the year is through.

Who else is primed for the quantum leap to The Show? Let's take a look in this week's Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Nick Franklin, 2B, SEA - The struggles of Dustin Ackley have allowed Franklin to ascend to the big leagues. Franklin slashed .324/.440/.472 with four home runs, 20 RBI and seven stolen bases in 39 games at Triple-A before the promotion. Perhaps most impressive, Franklin drew 30 walks over that span while striking out just 20 times. His impeccable plate discipline showed the M's that he was truly ready for his shot at the big time. Seattle is not making a playoff push this season, so it stands to reason that Franklin is here to play. As a result, he should get everyday at-bats with the chance to prove he belongs.

Michael Wacha, P, STL -
Wacha will make his MLB premiere Thursday for the Cardinals. He moved extremely fast through the St. Louis system, though it was not unexpected given his draft position and college pedigree. Through nine starts in 2013, the 21-year-old righty has a 2.05 ERA and 34:15 K:BB ratio for Triple-A Memphis. Though Wacha has not been getting punch outs at a high rate, opposing batters are hitting a paltry .187 against him. With the injury troubles of the St. Louis rotation, Wacha could snatch a rotation slot if he continues to pitch well.

Luis Sardinas, SS, TEX -
Sardinas isn't quite ready for prime time just yet, but he's making a case to get some love. He just turned 20 years old and is hitting .306/.361/.371 with 15 RBI and 15 steals through 47 games for High-A Myrtle Beach. The 6-1 switch-hitting shortstop handles the bat extremely well, though could benefit from a few more free passes. Still, he does not strike out a ton and puts the ball in play. He also missed most of 2011 due to shoulder surgery, meaning he has very little seasoning. With his height, he could add a few pounds and hopefully develop a bit of power too. His projectability makes Sardinas a player to monitor for the Rangers.

Eddie Butler, P, COL -
Any time pitchers can keep the ball down and dominate for the Rockies, it's difficult not to notice. The 22-year-old Butler posted an absolutely ridiculous 4.84 GO:AO ratio at Low-A Asheville in 54.1 innings before being promoted to High-A. He also fanned 51 batters over that span despite issuing 25 walks. The 22-year-old righty was dominant in the Pioneer League in his first pro season in 2012, but his performance at the higher levels will obviously be a much better indication of his future success. Butler went to Radford University, so he did not face the stiffest level of competition in college. Still, it's difficult not to like his production and peripheral numbers thus far.

CHECK STATUS

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, HOU -
Singleton will end up at Triple-A following a few games at lower levels after his 50-game suspension for violating the MLB's drug policy. However, Singleton's suspension was for marijuana and not performance-enhancing drugs, so his play on the field should not be affected. Singleton is one of the best prospects in the Houston system, as he slashed .284/.396/.497 with 21 home runs and 79 RBI at Double-A in 2012. Still, the Astros will not rush the 21-year-old power-hitting first baseman of the future. Likewise, they probably want to make sure that his off-field issues do not repeat themselves. As a result, Singleton's return is exciting for the talent-starved Astros, but he could spend a significant portion of this season in Triple-A before seeing the big club.

Zach Borenstein, 1B, LAA -
Borenstein is having a breakout 2013 campaign for the Halos. The 22-year-old is hitting .325/.364/.645 with 13 home runs, 33 RBI and four steals through 45 games for High-A Inland Empire. However, he has struck out 35 times while drawing just nine walks over that span. The lack of plate discipline could be a red flag for Borenstein as he moves to the higher levels of the minor leagues. Likewise, one has to wonder whether Borenstein is a merely a product of the extremely friendly hitting confines of the California League. Borenstein still has the look of a productive hitter; he did hit .279 with 11 home runs, 50 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 79 games at Low-A in 2012). His overall statistics in 2013, though, may be a tad misleading.

Matt Andriese, P, SD -
There's been a lot of promise in the Padres system in 2013, particularly in regard to pitching. Hurlers like Max Fried, Burch Smith, Matt Wisler and Robbie Erlin have been strutting their stuff for San Diego. Andriese has held his own, though, showing superb command en route to a 46:9 K:BB ratio in 52 innings for Double-A San Antonio. His ERA isn't too shabby either, standing at 2.25. He doesn't have the hype of a guy like Fried, or the left-handed delivery of a player like Erlin, but the 23-year-old Andriese can hit his spots, yield ground balls and also put hitters away when necessary. His upside isn't huge, but Andriese may be better than many scouts thought.

Luke Jackson, P, TEX -
Jackson has improved in each season since being drafted in the first round in the 2010 draft. He showed strikeout stuff in 2012 with 146 punch outs in 129.2 innings between Low-A and High-A. This season, Jackson has notched a 2.74 ERA and 50:23 K:BB ratio through 46 innings at High-A. The only thing standing in Jackson's way is his control; he has walked at least three batters in half of his starts this season. Still, the 21-year-old righty has managed to limit the damage overall and is set to shatter his career-low ERA at any level, which was previously 4.39. If Jackson can continue to get better, particularly in regard to his control, he could emerge as a top-flight pitching prospect for Texas.

DOWNGRADE

Wil Myers, OF, TB - Myers has been among the bigger disappointments for fantasy owners this season when it comes to minor league prospects. A former third-round pick of the Royals, Myers came over from Kansas City in the James Shields trade this offseason. Some even thought he could make the Opening Day roster for the Rays. Instead, Myers is batting .263/.344/.441 with seven home runs and 36 RBI through 46 games at Triple-A. He has fanned 55 times over that span, and his numbers looked even worse before his most-recent three-game stretch in which he went 7-for-14 with two home runs and six RBI. Hopefully this is a sign that his season is turning around, but the low batting average and high strikeout numbers remain disconcerting.

Albert Almora, OF, CHC -
The injury bug strikes again for Almora. Almora missed nearly two months after breaking the hamate bone in his left hand in the spring. He returned for seven games recently and hit a blistering .519 at Low-A, before suffering a hamstring injury which may require another trip to the DL. Almora is just 19 and has loads of potential, but this clearly is not the start he envisioned to his first full season of professional ball. He remains an excellent long-term keeper, but he's years away from making an impact, particularly if injuries keep catching up to him.

Adam Morgan, P, PHI -
Morgan has missed his last two starts due to shoulder stiffness, and finds himself on the Disabled List at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Morgan hasn't exactly been lights out in 2013 either, posting a 4.97 ERA and 29:12 K;BB ratio in 41.2 innings. A third round pick in the 2011 draft, Morgan dazzled in 2012 with a 3.35 ERA and 169:39 K;BB ratio between High-A and Double-A. However, it appears that the 23-year-old lefty needs some seasoning, as well as a clean bill of health, before moving on to Philadelphia.

Chris Heston, P, SF -
It's been a tale of two seasons for Heston. He could do no wrong in 2012, posting a 2.24 ERA and 135:40 K:BB ratio in 148.2 innings at Double-A Richmond. Opposing batters hit just .230 against him. In 2013, he has a bloated 5.63 ERA at Triple-A, as opposing hitters are battering him to the tune of a .317 BAA. Heston has been snake-bitten by the long ball, allowing eight dingers already this season. By contrast, the ground ball hurler surrendered just two long flies in all of 2012. Heston has also been a tad wild this season as well, walking 24 batters while fanning 54 in 62.1 innings. At 25 years of age, Heston needs to get his act together or risk being passed over in the Giants' future plans.