It's that time of year when the phrase Super Two gets thrown out when referencing prospects. So what exactly does it mean? Generally, players must have at least three years of major league service time before they are eligible for salary arbitration but there are players with less than three years of MLB service time that can also become eligible for arbitration. Players with more than two years of service time but less than three that rank within the top 22 percent (it used to be 17) of all two-year players in terms of service time. Got it? Didn't think so. But that's Super Two. Essentially a team keeps a Super Two player three additional seasons and that player receives four years of salary arbitration. Because the number is based on a percentage, there is no exact date to achieve Super Two status each season.
So with that, here are a few potential high-impact prospects whose timetable has been delayed as their teams have been trying to prevent them from eventually gaining Super Two status.
Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates: Cole has pitched his best two games of the season in his last two starts, going 2-0 and working seven innings in each start while allowing five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over that stretch. For the season, Cole is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 68 innings over 12 starts. His strikeout rates are way down from last season, down nearly 3.0 K/9 and the walk numbers are a bit concerning, averaging just under 4.0 BB/9. James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton and Jeanmar Gomez are all on the disabled list and Wandy Rodriguez left Wednesday's start with a forearm injury. Despite that, Pittsburgh ranks in the top 10 in all of baseball in starting pitcher ERA and Cole should contribute soon and if these injuries continue, perhaps sooner than the Pirates planned.
Wil Myers, OF, Rays: Myers began the season by hitting well but the power was missing. In 13 games to begin the year, he hit .300 but only had three extra-base hits and no home runs. He's now batting .276 after Wednesday's game and has 10 home runs and 24 extra-base hits. His 47 RBI rank second in the International League and his average is up 34 points since May 24. The Rays' offense has actually been decent this year, ranking in the top 10 in MLB in batting average and runs scored but right fielders for Tampa Bay have hit just .244 this season, ranking 21 out of 30 teams entering Wednesday. Plain and simple, Myers doesn't have anything else to prove in Triple-A and he should help the Rays make a push in the AL East.
Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets: Las Vegas clearly has a hitter-friendly ballpark and even Wheeler has struggled there. In five starts, he has yet to earn a decision but sports a 5.88 ERA and has allowed six home runs in 26.0 innings. On the road is a totally different story. He's 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts while allowing just two home runs in 32.1 innings. Oh and the Mets' rotation helps Wheeler's cause. Overall, New York enters Wednesday with a 4.22 starter ERA and a 12-22 record. Take out that guy named Matt Harvey and Mets' starters are 7-22 with a 4.94 ERA. It's still somewhat speculative, but Wheeler seems to be the most likely callup of this group as soon as the projected Super Two date passes.
Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins: The Twins said they were looking for more consistency out of Gibson when he was passed over by Sam Deduno and P.J. Walters but at this point it makes sense to wait until the Super Two deadline. Gibson lost three of his first four starts but bounced back to go 5-2 in eight starts since, including two complete game shutouts. He may not strike out a ton of batters in the big leagues, but his 63 strikeouts in 72.2 innings at Triple-A Rochester are respectable. Combine his solid numbers with the fact that Minnesota starters are allowing a .324 average against, by far the highest in baseball, and Gibson should make his debut soon but keep in mind he's coming off Tommy John surgery and while an innings limit is probable, a number has not been set.
Jarred Cosart, SP, Astros: Much like the Twins the Astros starters have scuffled a bit, sporting the fourth-highest starting pitcher ERA in baseball and Cosart has been very good while pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Nothing about Cosart's stats are spectacular but he has allowed four or more runs in just two of 12 appearances and carries a 3.07 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. Despite his low ERA he has issued a ton of walks, 5.22 BB/9, including seven in a start on May 28. Some thought that Cosart could make the Opening Day roster and while he didn't earn a spot, general manager Jeff Luhnow said at the end of spring training that he believed Cosart was close to being ready for the big leagues. With the way he's pitching and given the current state of the Astros pitching staff, Cosart could be a nice under the radar callup.