Minor League Barometer: Promoting the Phenoms

Minor League Barometer: Promoting the Phenoms

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

Promotions to the big leagues have already come at a furious rate for highly touted prospects in August. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith have made their way to the majors for the rebuilding Mets. Rhys Hoskins clubbed his first two big league home runs while playing the outfield for the Phillies, and Ozzie Albies is manning the keystone for the Braves. Meanwhile, the Rockies brought up the surging Ryan McMahon to plug in wherever needed, and Reynaldo Lopez made his pitching debut for the White Sox.

Which phenoms could see the big leagues in September? Here are a few names to keep on your radar...

Lewis Brinson has already been called up twice already this season for the Brewers, but has struggled a tad while playing inconsistently. Expect Brinson to return when rosters expand to provide depth as the Brewers attempt to chase down the Cubs.

Franklin Barreto also had a brief stint with the big club in Oakland, but he's got little left to prove at Triple-A at this point. The A's do have Marcus Semien at short, but Barreto could also play second base.

Walker Buehler could join the Dodgers in a relief role for the stretch run. Buehler is on an innings limit and his presence as a reliever certainly limits his value, though.

Chance Adams could see the big league rotation for the Yankees, who have been racked by injuries. The Bronx Bombers have been hesitant to use Adams, but if options continue to dwindle, they

Promotions to the big leagues have already come at a furious rate for highly touted prospects in August. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith have made their way to the majors for the rebuilding Mets. Rhys Hoskins clubbed his first two big league home runs while playing the outfield for the Phillies, and Ozzie Albies is manning the keystone for the Braves. Meanwhile, the Rockies brought up the surging Ryan McMahon to plug in wherever needed, and Reynaldo Lopez made his pitching debut for the White Sox.

Which phenoms could see the big leagues in September? Here are a few names to keep on your radar...

Lewis Brinson has already been called up twice already this season for the Brewers, but has struggled a tad while playing inconsistently. Expect Brinson to return when rosters expand to provide depth as the Brewers attempt to chase down the Cubs.

Franklin Barreto also had a brief stint with the big club in Oakland, but he's got little left to prove at Triple-A at this point. The A's do have Marcus Semien at short, but Barreto could also play second base.

Walker Buehler could join the Dodgers in a relief role for the stretch run. Buehler is on an innings limit and his presence as a reliever certainly limits his value, though.

Chance Adams could see the big league rotation for the Yankees, who have been racked by injuries. The Bronx Bombers have been hesitant to use Adams, but if options continue to dwindle, they may have no choice.

Willie Calhoun could provide some extra pop for the Rangers in September, and this opportunity could also serve as a way to move him around in the field and see where he best fits. The Rangers could even choose to let him serve as the Designated Hitter.

Let's take a look at the rest of the prospect scene in this week's Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD – It's been a pretty good year for the sons of former Major Leaguers. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Bo Bichette took Low-A by storm earlier this season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before being promoted, and Tatis is well on his way to joining them at High-A with his recent play. The teenaged phenom is hitting .364 with four home runs and nine RBI over his last 10 games for Low-A Fort Wayne. Perhaps most impressively, he has drawn 14 walks over that span as compared to tallying just eight strikeouts. Overall, Tatis is slashing .275/.381/.512 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI and 28 stolen bases. Tatis has actually been caught stealing 15 times this season, meaning that with some refinement and maturation he could be a candidate for the 30-30 club, or maybe even the 40-40 club. That might be wishful thinking, but the fact remains that Tatis has been among the most impressive prospects in baseball this season at just 18 years of age.

Daz Cameron, OF, HOU – Speaking of players with baseball in their blood, Cameron is yet another phenom following in his father's footsteps. The Astros seem to have an endless supply of outfielders, and the son of Mike Cameron is certainly high on that list in terms of both talent and upside. The 20-year-old has been on fire recently, hitting a blistering .462 with two home runs, eight RBI and three steals over his last 10 games for Low-A Quad Cities. Overall, Cameron has 13 steals and 26 RBI through 104 games, showing that intriguing combination of power and speed. He's not the most patient player at the dish, but he isn't awful in that regard either. Kyle Tucker is by far the top outfield prospect in the Houston organization, but Cameron is making some headway.

Isaac Paredes, SS, DET – Paredes didn't even receive top billing after being shipped to Detroit in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade. That honor belonged to third base prospect Jeimer Candelario, who at the time was considered the top prospect in the Cubs organization. However, the 18-year-old Paredes is making the Tigers look like they did their homework, as he has been turning heads since changing squads. Since the transition to the Detroit farm system, Paredes is hitting .354/.446/.646 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 13 games. Paredes makes fairly consistent contact, is not afraid to take a walk, and has surprising pop for his size. He is a ways away from making any sort of big league impact, but the Tigers may have unearthed a hidden gem in Paredes.

Adonis Medina, P, PHI – Medina and former rotation mate Sixto Sanchez give the Phillies two high-upside arms to bank on in the future. Both dominated at Low-A, with the 19-year-old Sanchez actually receiving a promotion to High-A before the 20-year-old Medina. Sanchez has shown control well beyond his years and is currently considered the top pitching prospect for the Phils, though Medina may have better strikeout stuff. Medina has been working on his slider since the end of last year, which has become a rather devastating out pitch. As a result, Medina has fanned 118 batters in 103.1 innings for Low-A Lakewood. With Franklyn Kilome now at Double-A and also showing promise, the Phils could have some arms to add behind the emerging Aaron Nola in short order.

CHECK STATUS

Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL – The No. 9 overall pick in this year's draft made quick work of the Arizona Rookie League, hitting a blistering .435 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 15 games before being bumped to Low-A. Hiura has been just fine in terms of handling that bat since the promotion, slashing .344/.384/.489 with 15 RBI and two steals in 23 games. Still, one has to wonder how much the 21-year-old middle infielder will provide in the home run and stolen base categories. There's no question the 5-foot-11, 190-lb Hiura can hit, but how else will the polished college product contribute? For sheer fantasy purposes, he may not be as valuable, though time will clearly tell.

Luis Escobar, P, PIT – The opposition has been no match for the hard-throwing Escobar, who has seen a bump in his velocity this season and leads the South Atlantic League with 142 strikeouts. He has a .200 BAA, as well as a respectable 3.55 ERA. Escobar does have a penchant for wildness, as evidenced by his 50 walks in 111.2 innings. He has walked at least three batters in six of his last nine outings. He will need to improve his control as well as the effectiveness of his secondary pitches in order to succeed as a starter. Otherwise, he may end up in the bullpen.

Dillon Tate, P, NYY – Tate may have finally found his groove. The discarded Texas Rangers draft pick did not fare much better last season after being traded to the New York Yankees, pitching out of the bullpen over the final month or so of the year. However, Tate has been stellar as a starter in 2017. In nine starts at High-A Tampa, the 23-year-old righty posted a 2.62 ERA and 46:15 K:BB in 58.1 innings. Opposing batters hit just .221 against him, and Tate was rewarded with a promotion to Double-A. He will need to continue working on his changeup as his third pitch in order to stay in the starting rotation, and it does not look like he will have the strikeout numbers that were expected when he was selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. Still, it appears he's finally on the march to the big leagues, in whatever future role that may be.

Ian Anderson, P, ATL – Realistically, the only downside for Anderson is that he is part of an absolutely stacked Atlanta Braves farm system, particularly in terms of pitching. Anderson could be the top arm in many other systems, but for the Braves he barely cracks the top five. Nevertheless, that is out of his control, and the teenager has been exceptional on the mound for Low-A Rome. Anderson has a 3.14 ERA and 101:43 K:BB in 83 innings. Perhaps most impressive, he has not allowed a home run over the entire season. Anderson is likely on an innings limit, so his 2017 campaign may be coming to a close. Still, it appears the Braves have yet another possible frontline starter to add to their collection.

DOWNGRADE

Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS – The Red Sox already appear to have their third baseman of the future in Rafael Devers, but Dalbec was a fourth round pick in the 2016 draft with high expectations. He torched the New York Penn League after being drafted last year, slashing .386/.427/.674 in 34 games. However, after being held back to begin the 2017 campaign, Dalbec has had an extremely rough introduction to full-season ball. The 22-year-old is batting just .224/.317/.367 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 59 games. Dalbec has fanned an astounding 92 times over that span, clearly struggling with contact issues at this level. With Michael Chavis having a rebound season ahead of him at the hot corner as well, it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox proceed with Dalbec.

Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK – Mateo was part of the package of prospects the Yankees shipped to Oakland in the Sonny Gray deal. Mateo stole 82 bases in 2015, but struggled both on and off the field in 2016, and when the Yankees traded for Gleyber Torres, Mateo became expendable. He was having a better season in 2017 prior to the trade, but has scuffled since changing organizations. The 22-year-old is hitting just .218 with 16 strikeouts in 12 games for Double-A Midland, though he does have six stolen bases over that span. The strikeouts are particularly noteworthy for a player with limited power upside, as Mateo has fanned a career-worst 127 times in 2017 across all levels and organizations. Another reason the Yankees were fine with dealing Mateo was that his prospect luster appears to have worn off. He's still got plenty of upside, but he's not the elite phenom that he was once thought to be.

Yu-Cheng Chang, SS, CLE – Chang started out the season on a tear, but has hit a bit of wall as the season has progressed. Chang does have a career-best 21 home runs in 109 games, though he has also fanned 113 times over that span. In addition, the soon-to-be 22-year-old is batting just .218/.311/.460 on the year. Chang has been even worse of late, hitting just .143 over his last 10 games. Chang does have 11 stolen bases, showing an intriguing combination of power and speed. Still, Chang may eventually be forced to move off of shortstop if he stays with the Tribe, as Francisco Lindor currently holds court at that position and is arguably the face of the Cleveland franchise. The lack of a firm position on the diamond along with a putrid average makes Chang a risky proposition at this time.

Marcos Molina, P, NYM – Molina deserves props for a successful return from Tommy John surgery, and his control has been particularly solid for someone who just underwent the procedure in 2016. However, while he is still making his way back to form, he has suffered a dip in strikeouts, which is a tad concerning. Molina has fanned just 65 batters in 83.2 innings, mostly at Double-A. He has three workable pitches and throws strikes, but the lack of punch outs will limit his upside. Molina has also been on the Disabled List twice in 2017. Perhaps he is still working out the kinks and we will see an uptick in strikeouts in 2018, but Molina must prove he can be healthy and rack up some Ks before becoming an upper-echelon pitching prospect for the Mets.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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