This article is part of our John Sickels' Column series.
Potential Pitching Call-Ups
Here is a look at some pitchers at the Triple-A and Double-A levels who should or could get the call to the majors sometime soon. The focus is on pitchers who could see significant major league action this year, not guys who are just expected for a September promotion.
Nick Adenhart, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Adenhart is 3-0, 1.17 with a 14:12 K:BB ratio in 23 innings, but just 15 hits allowed for Triple-A Salt Lake. He needs to sharpen his command a bit more, but so far the Pacific Coast League hasn't been a major challenge for him. He has a good chance to earn a call-up by midseason. Adenhart probably won't be an ace, but should be a reliable mid-rotation, inning-eating starter once he settles in.
Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Bailey had major command problems in spring training, but he's been excellent so far in Triple-A, with a 3-1, 1.03 record and a 16:4 K:BB ratio in 26.1 innings. If he maintains this kind of command, it won't be long before he replaces Josh Fogg. Bailey has top-notch stuff, and if he can truly add excellent command to his arsenal of plus pitches, the Reds have another hot young arm to combine with Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez.
Collin Balester, RHP, Washington Nationals
Washington's most advanced pitching prospect, Balester has a 2.66 ERA and a 19:7 K:BB in 20.1 innings for Triple-A Columbus. His performance in years past never quite lived up to the glowing scouting reports, but this year he has been more dominant and at age 21 he's still extremely young. Balester's fastball/curveball combo is impressive, and adding a better changeup rounds out his game.
Sean Gallagher, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Gallagher fanned 12 in 7.2 innings in his most recent outing April 22nd, giving him a 1.93 ERA and a 25:5 K:BB in 23.1 innings for Triple-A Iowa. He has nothing left to prove in Triple-A and is just waiting for a spot to open on Chicago's roster. He projects as a fine third starter, an inning-eating type with a solid fastball/curveball/changeup combination at his disposal.
Jaime Garcia, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Garcia fanned ten men in his last start on April 21st, giving him a 2.35 ERA and a 29:9 K:BB ratio for Double-A Springfield. A promotion to Triple-A appears likely soon, and if he maintains his command there he could see St. Louis in the second half. He has an above average fastball/curveball combo and gets plenty of grounders. Garcia hasn't received as much attention as he's deserved perhaps, but that should change this year.
Craig Hansen, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Remember him? Hansen has thrown 12.1 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing just one unearned run, with a 13:4 K:BB ratio and only three hits allowed. His dominant performance thus far makes it more likely that the Red Sox will give him another opportunity when a bullpen arm is needed. It could also make him attractive trade bait down the stretch.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Little kids ask "why is the sky blue?" Fantasy owners ask "when will Kershaw get promoted?" We don't really know, of course, but his 1.83 ERA and 23:8 K:BB ratio in 19.2 innings are very impressive, especially at the Double-A level at age 20. His stuff is first class and as soon as the Dodgers think his command can stand up, you should see him advance. That could be anywhere from July to September to early 2009.
Justin Masterson, RHP, Boston Red Sox
This sinkerball artist boasts at 0.95 ERA and a 23:5 K:BB ratio in his first 19 innings for Double-A Portland, with an impressive 3.57 GO:AO ratio. He's developed outstanding command of his heavy sinker/hard slider combination, and should move up to Triple-A soon, with a second-half promotion to the majors possible if he maintains this.
Jon Meloan, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
A reliever last year, Meloan is now a starter and is 2-0, 1.66 with a 20:7 K:BB mark in his first 22 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas. He'll be on the rapid promotion track as soon as the Dodgers are convinced that his stamina is built up properly, and could see the Show before the younger Kershaw. His slider is outstanding and his fastball and changeup are solid as well.
Kevin Mulvey, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Mulvey has been brilliant in his first three outings for Triple-A Rochester, going 2-1, 1.02 with a 20:3 K:BB ratio in 17.2 innings. Part of the Johan Santana package from the Mets, Mulvey looks primed to bolster the Minnesota rotation by the second half of the season thanks to excellent command of his four-pitch arsenal.
Garrett Olson, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Triple-A Norfolk lefty Olson is off to an excellent start, with a 1.61 ERA and a 24:7 K:BB in his first 22.1 innings. Although he struggled in major league action last year, Olson still looks like a part of Baltimore's future as a number three/four starter with good command. He'll get another chance in the majors very soon at this rate, and should be more effective than last time.
Max Scherzer, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Scherzer is blowing away the Pacific Coast League, with a 1.17 ERA in four starts for Tucson and a stunning 38:3 K:BB ratio in just 23 innings. He's allowed only 12 hits and a .146 batting average-against. Demonstrating outstanding command of his 92-95 MPH fastball and wicked slider, Scherzer is certainly on the fast track to promotion with numbers like this.
Article first appeared 4/24/08