When will Jon Gray get his shot at taming the thin air at Coors Field? One of the elite pitching prospects in baseball, Gray has not allowed a run over his last two starts, a span of 10 innings. On June 10, Gray tossed five innings of no-hit ball. Overall, the flame throwing righty has a 3.39 ERA and 61:18 K:BB ratio in 69 innings for Double-A Tulsa. The Rockies have been racked with pitching injuries at the big-league level, but the prospects have been hit hard too. Eddie Butler was called up for his MLB debut, and promptly got hurt. Fellow Double-A prospect Danny Winkler recently underwent Tommy John surgery. The Rockies are starting non-prospect Christian Bergman and a nearly failed prospect in Tyler Matzek at the big-league level. In other words, all signs point to Gray being promoted in the very near future.
1. Watch out for Nick Kingham for the Pirates, currently at Triple-A Indianapolis for the Bucs. Although he just got to this level, the 22-year-old is a top-flight pitching phenom on a squad that has starting pitchers like Brandon Cumpton and Vance Worley in the big-league rotation. His MLB debut could come before the season is finished.
2. Colin Moran has finally caught fire for the Marlins. His lack of power and impatience at the dish is still disconcerting, though.
3. Rosell Herrera looks to be getting back on track for the Rockies. After a breakout 2013 campaign at Low-A, Herrera has missed most of this season with wrist ailments. However, he is hitting .400 with two home runs and a stolen base over his last 10 games at High-A Modesto.
More prospect goodness awaits in this week's Minor League Barometer.
Josh Bell, OF, PIT - Bell had a decent 2013 season, but may finally be tapping into his true potential this season. He was a tad injury prone to begin his professional career, but in 2013 slashed .279/.353/.453 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI at Low-A. A bump up to High-A hasn't slowed down his progress; in fact, Bell has been raking lately. The 21-year-old outfielder is hitting a blistering .457/.513/.886 with four home runs and eight RBI over his last 10 games. Overall, he is hitting .323/.375/.516 with nine home runs and 42 RBI through 64 games. A move to first base could be in order for Bell, as the Bucs are stacked in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and the recently promoted Gregory Polanco. Still, Bell is a switch-hitter with power who does not strike out a lot. He deserves some attention.
Rob Kaminsky, P, STL - A 19-year-old southpaw honing his craft at Low-A, Kaminsky hasn't met much resistance at this level. The No. 28 overall selection in the 2013 draft, Kaminsky has a 1.45 ERA and 33:12 K:BB ratio through 37.1 innings. His peripheral numbers have been fantastic as well. Opposing batters are hitting just .190 against him, and he has notched a 1.50 GO:AO ratio. Perhaps most impressively, Kaminsky has not allowed home run this season. He doesn't have elite size but does possess three outstanding pitches (fastball/changeup, curveball) with decent control. Kaminsky could be yet another future star to add to the embarrassment of riches in the Cardinals farm system.
Jose Peraza, SS/2B, ATL - The Braves have a hole at second base at the big-league level. Dan Uggla has not panned out as hoped. Tommy La Stella is a polished prospect who is getting a shot at the starting job, but doesn't possess the speed of Peraza. The 20-year-old Peraza has swiped 35 bags in 66 games this season. Peraza has been spraying the ball all over the park at High-A Lynchburg recently as well. The middle infielder is batting .455 with eight stolen bases over his last 10 games. On the season, Peraza is slashing .342/.365/.454. With Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, Peraza's best path to the majors will be at second base. La Stella is off to a good start, but Peraza could contend for his job as early as late next season.
Kyle Waldrop, OF, CIN - Along with recently promoted teammate Jesse Winker, the 22-year-old Waldrop has been tearing the cover off the ball for the Reds at High-A Bakersfield. Waldrop is slashing .476/.500/.810 with two home runs and seven RBI over his last 10 games for the Blaze. On the season, the 6-foot-2 lefty is batting a standout .359/.409/.516 with six home runs, 32 RBI and 11 stolen bases through 65 games. Also keep in mind that Waldrop was a 20-20 player at the same level in 2013, though he hit just .258. The second time around has been much easier for Waldrop, who has also been able to cut down on his strikeouts slightly. As long as his plate discipline continues to improve, the power/speed combo will remain intriguing.
Devon Travis, 2B, DET - Is Travis going to be trade bait for the Tigers? The trade of Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler has blocked the path of Travis to the bigs, and he might be ready for his world premiere as early as next season. Travis started the year on the DL but has more than held his own since returning. He is hitting .293/.329/.511 with four home runs, 19 RBI and five stolen bases through 33 games for Double-A Erie. On a hitting-poor farm, Travis could be the best remaining hitter in the system. It remains to be seen if he'll need a trade to make his mark, as the Tigers have been struggling lately and could need a boost to their starting rotation. Keep an eye on Travis as the trade deadline approaches.
Tom Windle, P, LAD - Windle has been a force in the hitter's haven of the California League this season. The strongly built southpaw has a 3.93 ERA and 60:20 K:BB ratio in 68.2 innings for High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Keeping the ball down is essential in most of the parks in this league, and Windle has done exactly that to the tune of a 1.81 GO:AO ratio. He has allowed just three home runs in 2014. His last start was a gem, as he tossed seven scoreless innings June 12. Windle's control has been his one red flag, as he has had two five-walk games already this season. Still, he's been successful as a starter overall, particularly considering that he was a reliever until his junior year of college at Minnesota less than two years ago.
Travis Demeritte, SS/2B, TEX - It seems like the Rangers have a never-ending parade of middle-infield prospects. Add Demeritte to the list, a 2013 first-round selection who brings a bit of a different tool to the table than players like Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus and Luis Sardinas. Demeritte has plus-power as witnessed by his 15 home runs in 62 games at Low-A. The 19-year-old has had the usual struggles for a raw teenager with power hitting potential, though; he has fanned 79 times while hitting just .241. Demeritte isn't afraid to a take a walk, though, and his power is extremely valuable at the shallow fantasy position of middle infielder. He is likely a ways away from making an MLB impact, but Demeritte's progress is worth monitoring.
Orlando Arcia, SS, MIL - Another teenage prospect to keep on your radar is the 19-year-old Arcia, who is batting .341 over his last 10 games at High-A Brevard County. Considered one of the better prospects in the Milwaukee system, the Brewers have been very aggressive with Arcia thus far in his brief professional career. Arcia is extremely young for Low-A but is hitting a more than respectable .272 with 12 stolen bases through 65 games. His plate discipline has been particularly impressive, as he has just 33 strikeouts over that span, an astonishingly low number for such a young player getting his first taste of High-A. It remains to be seen if he'll have much power, but Arcia is still filling out, and 20 stolen bases does not appear to be outside the realm of possibilities. The ceiling could be very high for Arcia.
Clayton Blackburn, P, SF - Blackburn landed on the disabled list a few weeks ago with a side/oblique injury, and mum has been the word from the Giants regarding his return. Blackburn pitched extremely well in harsh conditions in 2013 at High-A, posting a 3.65 ERA and 138:35 K:BB ratio in 133 innings in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League. The jump in competition to Double-A didn't necessarily overwhelm Blackburn, as he showed pinpoint control while notching a 3.40 ERA. However, opposing batters hit .310 against him, showing he was catching too much of the plate prior to the injury. Many pundits do not believe the 21-year-old Blackburn has the same upside as fellow Giants pitching prospects Kyle Crick or Chris Stratton, so it will be interesting to see if Blackburn cane come back from his current ailment and prove the naysayers wrong.
Delino DeShields Jr., OF, HOU - It's easy to pick on Mark Appel these days, so a different Houston prospect will garner some slightly negative attention this week. DeShields looked to be rebounding from the awful comebacker he took to the face a month or so ago, but has hit a rough patch yet again. He is batting an anemic .114 over his last 10 games at Double-A Corpus Christi. Overall, the 21-year-old outfielder is slashing just .230/.321/.344 with five home runs and 19 RBI through 47 games. DeShields does have 25 steals over that span, but the move from second base to the outfield diminishes his value slightly. He has also fanned 52 times this season, a number which is entirely too high for a player known mostly for his speed. DeShields is still very young, but 2014 has been a trying year for him.
Rafael Montero, P, NYM - Montero had a short stint with the big club, with less-than-stellar results. Montero allowed five home runs in 20 innings for the Mets, walking 11 batters en route to a bloated 5.40 ERA. Although he did fan 17 batters over that span, Montero was sent back down to Triple-A to work on his normally superb control. He subsequently had two poor outings in the minors, then left his last start on June 14 after recording just one out. Montero suffered an oblique strain, and there is no timetable for his return. A beneficiary of this development could be top prospect Noah Syndergaard. However, Syndergaard has had injury woes of his own lately, and it is more likely that the struggling Metsies will simply let both of their star hurlers stay in the minors for the time being.
Roman Quinn, OF, PHI - The first item to note in Quinn's introduction is his position. The Phillies have decided to move Quinn from shortstop to the outfield at High-A to make way for uber-prospect J.P. Crawford. That diminishes his value from the start. Secondly, Quinn ruptured his Achilles' tendon in offseason workouts and has played just 21 games this season. The injury is not exactly minor for any player, but it is particularly troublesome for someone previously known for his speed. As a result of working his way back from the injury, Quinn has just three steals in 21 games since returning to action. By contrast, he had 32 steals in 67 games at Low-A in 2013. The 21-year-old is batting .244/.311/.317 at High-A thus far, and he still appears to be getting his legs under him. However, there could be cause for concern if Quinn is unable to regain his prior form.