There are numerous top prospects set to make an impact in the major leagues this season, as I wrote about a few months ago, but for this particular post, I’m only focusing on the players who are ready right now to get a callup to the big leagues, but are yet to for one reason or another. Keep in mind as you’re reading, the players (in no particular order) I’ve included are yet to play a single game in the majors:
Archie Bradley is the first player on my list, as he nearly made the Diamondback’s rotation out of Spring Training. Going 14-5, with a 1.84 ERA last season, Bradley is one of those players who is sure to make an immediate impact upon his first callup to the majors. Though it could be awhile longer before Bradley gets his first big league start, he’s ready now, nonetheless, to show off his stuff on the highest level.
Another player who nearly made the majors out of Spring Training, and likely should have, is George Springer. Blasting the second-most home runs of any player in the minors last season, with a total of 37, Springer is sure to be one of the key pieces for the Astros moving forward, whenever his callup takes place. With the Astros’ outfield struggling, besides Dexter Fowler, bringing up Springer would be a smart thing to do.
Gregory Polanco could end up being as big of a difference maker for the Pirates as Andrew McCutchen. Though he’s yet to prove his ability on the major league level, there are a lot of people who feel Polanco is experienced enough to make the jump. Currently in Triple-A, it will likely be a bit of time before Polanco is called up, however, his combination of speed, power, and ability to hit for average should help him stick.
Joc Pederson is more than ready to make his major league debut, but there’s a big problem he faces: he’s an outfielder in the Dodgers’ organization. With a current outfield of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, Pederson simply has nowhere to go. While it could be a good bit of time before the Dodgers’ figure out a solution to the situation they have with Pederson, he should be up before too long.
Currently battling an injury, Addison Russell can’t technically be called up to the major leagues until he fully recovers, which likely means more minor league time, however, he is nearly ready. Russell is coined to be the next great all around shortstop, and many people feel he has the potential to win multiple Gold Glove awards. With the Athletics’ contract to their current shortstop, Jed Lowrie, almost up, Russell will be up fairly soon.
Some honorable mentions, of player who are getting close to being major league ready but aren’t quite, include Oscar Taveras, Javier Baez, Noah Syndergaard, Alex Meyer, Eddie Butler, Jonathan Singleton, Garin Cecchini and Stephen Piscotty.
All are showing tons of major league potential, and the majority of those players should see time in the major leagues at some point in the second half of this season. The remaining few will get their first glimpse of the majors in the early part of 2015.
I’m not sure what it is about prospects that intrigues me so much, but I absolutely love studying over, and basically memorizing, the top 100 prospects list — the stars of tomorrow. I didn’t really get into it until 2012, as that’s when I began to get serious about autograph collecting, and I had to keep up with the prospects to know when a particularly talented player was coming to town. I suppose that’s why I love it so much, as I can’t get autographs from MLB players all that often — living 250 miles from the nearest MLB team — so I have to get them on their way up.
In this blog post, I’m going to tackle the prospects list in chunks (10 prospects at a time), but I’m not going to be talking about them all. That would take far too long, and besides, not every player of the top 100 is going to make an impact at the Major League level in 2014. Therefore, I’m only going to cover the prospects who will likely make it to the big leagues this year; including those who don’t make it out of Spring Training, but have a chance of a call up later in the season.
Keep in mind, I’m by no means guaranteeing the players I discuss below will make the major leagues this year; they could get delayed for whatever reason. In addition, there might end up being a few players I don’t mention that end up making it to the big leagues this season. I’m merely giving my own personal opinions as to which players I feel will make it to the bigs in 2014. With that said, let the debating begin:
Pierce Johnson (100), Rosell Herrera (99), Stephen Piscotty (98), Robbie Ray (97),
There really aren’t any players from the 100-91 spots that I feel have a good shot at making it to the big leagues in 2014. If any of them made it, it would likely be Jorge Bonifacio and/or Robbie Ray, as both have a shot at beginning the year in Triple-A and therefore could potentially be a September call up. It’s more likely, however, that all these players will have to wait until at least 2015.
Jose Berrios (90), Arismendy Alcantara (89), D.J. Peterson (88), Casey Kelly (87),
Matt Barnes (86), Rafael Montero (85), Hak-Ju Lee (84), Jimmy Nelson (83),
Christian Bethancourt (82) and Justin Nicolino (81).
Casey Kelly is the only one of these players that I feel has a chance at starting with the major league club out of Spring Training. Kelly made his MLB debut in 2012, where he was fairly good, but due to Tommy John surgery last season, he missed all of 2013. If healthy, Kelly has the potential to be a major asset to the Padres in their starting rotation, and should be able to show what he’s capable of this season.
While Jimmy Nelson is a player who is on the fence — possibly making the big leagues out of camp in late March — I feel he will likely pitch a month or two in the minors before getting called back up sometime midseason. Matt Barnes, Rafael Montero and Hak-Ju Lee (who spent 2013 injured) should also all see big league time in 2014, and have the potential to become impact players for their respective clubs.
Matt Davidson (80), Braden Shipley (79), Matthew Wisler (78), Chris Owings (77),
Luis Sardinas (76), Mason Williams (75), Josh Bell (74), Trevor Bauer (73),
Michael Choice (72) and David Dahl (71).
Matt Davidson — recently traded to the White Sox from the Diamondback’s — Chris Owings, Trevor Bauer and Michael Choice could all potentially start the year in the majors, but there’s also the chance that they could spend a few games in Triple-A. They all played in the big leagues at some point in 2013 and will each get their chance to shine on the big stage at some point in 2014, possibly right off the bat.
Matthew Wisler isn’t going to begin the season the Padres, however, it is likely that he could see a few games with them as a late season call up. They could always use pitching help, and Wisler, going 10-6 with a 2.78 ERA last year, could certainly go a long way for the Padres in 2014.
Erik Johnson (70), A.J. Cole (69), Eduardo Rodriguez (68), Alen Hanson (67),
Delino De Shields (66), Jake Marisnick (65), Julio Urias (64), Zach Lee (63),
Mookie Betts (62) and Blake Swihart (61).
Jake Marisnick spent a good bit of time (40 games) with the Marlin in 2013, and there’s a good shot at him starting off the year with them. Marisnick didn’t perform particularly well, but he’s still young and would make a good outfielder for them in 2014. Erik Johnson, who also made his MLB debut last season, has the potential to break camp with the White Sox, but it’s going to come down to how he performs in Spring Training. Either way, he’ll see time in the majors this season.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Lee and Alen Hanson all could make it to the bigs in 2014, but for Hanson that may have to wait another season. Rodriguez and Lee should begin the 2014 season with Triple-A, and depending on how they do, they could possibly be September call ups. Hanson also holds that chance, but it will likely be 2015 for him.
Lucas Sims (60), Rougned Odor (59), Kolten Wong (58), Garin Cecchini (57),
Jake Odorizzi (56), Marcus Stroman (55), Mike Foltynewicz (54), Jesse Biddle (53),
Lance McCullers (52) and Colin Moran (51).
Kolten Wong, despite forever holding the distinction of being picked off to end the game during the 2013 World Series, should begin the season where he left off. As a late season call up last year, Wong did decently, and many feel he is going to turn into a very special player. Jake Odorizzi also has the talent to begin 2014 at the big league level, but the big difference between Wong and Odorizzi is team room. The Rays’ rotation is packed, and therefore it’s likely Odorizzi will be back with Triple-A to begin the season.
Garin Cecchini, Marcus Stroman, Mike Foltynewicz and Jesse Biddle all have the chance to make their MLB debuts this season, as they all should begin in Triple-A. Of them, Stroman has the potential to be called up the quickest, as many people feel he is the most ready, and the Blue Jays really could use some pitching. But all of them should help out their respective clubs at some point this year.
Jonathan Singleton (50), Jorge Soler (49), Clint Frazier (48), Gary Sanchez (47),
Allen Webster (46), Austin Meadows (45), Lucas Giolito (44), Max Fried (43),
C.J. Edwards (42) and Eddie Butler (41).
Allen Webster is the only player of this group that stands any shot at making the majors to start the year, but even so, it’s not a good shot. Despite making the Red Sox rotation in 2013, Webster performed somewhat poorly, and it’s likely that that bad showing could land him back in Triple-A to begin 2014.
Jonathan Singleton, Gary Sanchez and Eddie Butler all could begin 2014 in Triple-A, and all three could make the majors this season. Of them, Singleton is the only player with Triple-A experience, but they each have the talent to make their respective clubs at some point this year. The only thing that would hold Sanchez back would possibly be Brian McCann, whom the Yankees signed to a major contract earlier this offseason, and is blocking Sanchez’s spot as the Bronx Bombers’ catcher.
Kohl Stewart (40), Jorge Alfaro (39), Adalberto Mondesi (38), Billy Hamilton (37),
Billy Hamilton, Yordano Ventura, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Gausman all should begin the season in the majors, as all four of them spent time there last season. Though they all have some things to work on, they each have a ton of natural talent, and could be helping out their big league club from day one of the 2014 season, with Bradley having to compete for his outfield spot against the newly acquired Grady Sizemore.
Joc Pederson was debated over by the Dodgers last season as to whether or not they wanted to call him up or choose another talented outfielder by the name of Yasiel Puig instead. (We all know what happened — with Puig going on a tear with the Dodgers — so I won’t talk a lot about it.) Though he doesn’t have the power that Puig possesses, Pederson is going to be a great player for the Dodgers, and should see a few games in the majors in 2014. The only question being, is there room for him in the already crowded outfield? (A possible trade isn’t out of the question.)
Henry Owens (30), Andrew Heaney (29), Alex Meyer (28), Tyler Glasnow (27),
George Springer and Travis d’Arnaud each have a chance to begin 2014 with their big league team, but d’Arnaud is the more likely of the two. He spent the last month of the 2013 season with the Mets, and should begin with them out of Spring Training. Springer on the other hand — while he hit 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last year — will likely spend a month or two in the minors before finally getting a chance to showcase his talents on the biggest stage possible.
Henry Owens, Andrew Heaney, Alex Meyer and Maikel Franco will likely be sent to Triple-A out of Spring Training, however, they should all reach the major league level this season. They all have a ton of talent, and will be fun to watch this season. If any of them get called up early enough, they could become an immediate everyday impact player for their club.
Dylan Bundy (20), Robert Stephenson (19), Albert Almora (18), Mark Appel (17),
Jameson Taillon (16), Nick Castellanos (15), Jonathan Gray (14), Gregory Polanco (13),
Addison Russell (12) and Noah Syndergaard (11).
Nick Castellanos finally has a spot available for him on the Tigers and it’s likely that he’ll claim it right out of Spring Training. Castellanos spent the final games of 2013 in the big leagues, but with Miguel Cabrera at third — his normal position — Castellanos was forced to the outfield. Now that Prince Fielder is with the Rangers, Cabrera can return to his original spot at first, and Castellanos can play a full season at third base, where he should do extremely well.
There are a ton of players from the 20-11 spots that will likely see big league time in 2014. Dylan Bundy, Robert Stephenson, Mark Appel, Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, Addison Russell and Noah Syndergaard all stand a decent shot — some better than others — with Bundy, Taillon and Syndergaard likely being the three with the best shot of a call up earlier than September. We’ll have to see exactly what happens, but this group of players in particular will be a fun one to watch.
Francisco Lindor (10), Kris Bryant (9), Carlos Correa (8), Javier Baez (7),
Taijuan Walker (6), Archie Bradley (5), Miguel Sano (4), Oscar Taveras (3),
Xander Bogaerts (2) and Byron Buxton (1).
Taijuan Walker, Xander Bogaerts and Archie Bradley will all spend a good chunk of time in the big leagues in 2014, but it’s likely that they will begin the year with their major league teams. Admittedly, Bradley is a bit of a stretch — likely starting the year in Triple-A — but if he performs exceptionally well in Spring Training, it’s not completely out of the question. All of these players, if they can remain healthy and subsequently play enough games at the major league level, all have the potential to be Rookie of the Year caliber players.
Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Oscar Taveras could each play games in the majors this season, but it’s possible that Bryant will have to wait until 2015, depending on how he performs and how quickly the Cubs want to bring him along. Regardless, all of these players, as with the previously named players in this group, have the potential to be Rookie of the Year finalist in 2015, assuming they don’t exceed the stats in 2014 needed to still qualify as a rookie the next season.
I can honestly say that I agree with the top 100 prospects list for the most part, though there were a few players that I feel should’ve ranked higher/lower than they were. But I didn’t form the list, so I can’t complain. Now that the top prospects going into the 2014 season have been announced, I pose the following question: Which of the top ten prospects (although a couple of them may not even make the major leagues) do you feel will have the biggest impact at the major league level in 2014? Cast your vote below:
Feel free to leave a comment below with your overall thoughts on the top 100 prospects list heading into this season.
Alex Meyer was drafted by the Nationals in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. In his first professional season, Meyer showed off why he’s one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, as he went 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA, to go along with 139 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched. A year which included pitching in the 2012 All-Star Futures game, in Kansas City, Missouri, it’s fair to say Meyer had about as good of a first season as you can have.
Going from the Nationals to the Twins in November, in exchange for outfielder, Denard Span, Meyer is up for some new challenges that come with a new organization, but he’s looking forward to being part of the Twins. I fully expect Meyer to have an even better season than he did last year, truly showing off his full potential and finally receiving the recognition that’s due to him. (I feel he’s vastly underrated.)
Though consistency with finding the strike zone has been an issue for Meyer in the past, he did a much better job of it last season, and that alone should enable him to excel in the coming year, if he can continue his progression. Meyer possesses an above average fastball, with a decent slider and changeup, and if things continue to go the way they’re going, barring any major setbacks, Meyer could see time in the majors as soon as the second half of the 2014 season.
Alex Meyer–top pitching prospect in the Twins’ organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
I started playing ball at age 4. I have had a passion for the game ever since my first practice. My dad played a very influential part in getting me started.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
Ken Griffey Jr. I loved watching him play. Watching him do everything he did was always exciting.
3.) You were drafted by the Nationals in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
It was an exciting process throughout the whole thing. I was excited when I saw on TV my name come up. It was something I had dreamed about happening for a long time.
4.) After spending a full season in the Nationals’ organization, you were traded to the Twins, in November of 2012. What are you looking forward to most with your new team?
Just the opportunity to keep playing. I enjoy baseball and the fact that the Twins thought highly of me and traded for me makes me even more excited to get to playing.
5.) Talk a little bit about life on the road. What’s the most difficult aspect of it? What do you do to pass the time?
I don’t really find anything too difficult about it. I enjoy being with my teammates and getting to check out the different cities. I spend a lot of time listening to music or reading.
6.) You pitched in the 2012 All-Star Futures game, in Kansas City. What did you take away from that experience? What was most memorable about it?
The whole experience is something I’ll never forget. Just being able to be on the field with some of the top players in the minor leagues at a major league venue and a setting like that was truly unexplainable. It’s hard to put how incredible something like that was into words. Being able to call George Brett my manager for a day is pretty cool.
7.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?
I try not to read into them. I just worry about every 5th day.
8.) What do you feel went well in 2012? What are your goals for 2013?
I feel in 2012 it was good to be able to go out and throw a full professional season. I had a blast and look forward to doing it again with a new organization in 2013.
9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?
I loved the 24 series, but now I am a big fan of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘The Walking Dead’. Favorite food would probably be a nice steak.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
Work on getting better every single day, and if you do that, good things will come.
Big thanks to Alex Meyer for taking the time to answer my questions.
“I was interested in baseball for as long as I can remember,” replies Alex Meyer, in response to when he first developed an interest in baseball. “I remember my mom signing me up for instructional league, when I was 5 years old, for the Greensburg Youth Baseball League. I was fortunate enough to play with all of my friends growing up.”
Another thing Meyer enjoyed growing up, was watching his favorite player, Ken Griffey Jr, play baseball, saying, “He was the most exciting player to watch, and everytime I had the opportunity to watch him play, I did.” Now that Jr. has retired, Meyer states that Josh Beckett is his new favorite player. “I really like the way he pitches,” replies Meyer, “and the way he composes himself on the mound.”
Like Beckett, Meyer relies heavily on his fastball. “I love throwing the fastball. It’s my favorite pitch because I feel like you can spot up the most with that pitch.”
He must know what he’s talking about. In his most recent season for the University of Kentucky, Meyer recorded 110 strikeouts, and 2 complete game shutouts. (Both of which he led the team in.)
Before he recieved his College baseball success, Meyer attempted a few other sports. He gave football a shot, but after just one year decided that it really wasn’t the sport for him. Basketball and baseball was where his real interest lied. (Playing both in all four years of high school.)
“Basketball was something that I really enjoyed doing throughout the winter, and I felt like I had some success in it……”, says Meyer. “…….but I always figured baseball was where my future was.”
When it comes to basketball, there’s no question as to why he had success with it. In Meyer’s own words, “I’m 6’9”, and can do some crazy dunks.” (Enough said.)
Coming out of high school, Meyer was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 20th round. However, he decided to attend college, saying, “I was set on going to school because at the time, it was the most important thing for me. I love baseball and if things were going to work out, I needed to get stronger and mentally mature and if that were to happen, it would benefit me more, I felt, than signing at that point in time.”
After making the decision to attend college, another decision was left to be made. Which college to choose? In the end, Meyer chose the University of Kentucky. “I knew that I wanted to play in the SEC because I felt that it was the best conference in the country and would get you ready for pro ball more than any other conference could. Kentucky was close to home (Greensburg, IN) and I wanted to make sure my family could come to my games. This made the decision easy for me.”
Getting back to the mention of family by Meyer, it is a very big part of his life. “I like to call my family before I get to the field and talk to all of them before I go into the locker room. I always make sure that I talk to my mom last because she always gives me words of encouragement that no one else does. She keeps me humble and grounded and I feel like [she] does a great job getting me ready for the game.”
Family was also a part of Meyer’s life on draft night. (June 9th, 2011.) As he sat there, patiently awaiting his name to be called, his family was there with him. When his name was finally called, as the 23rd pick in the first round by the Nationals, Meyer experienced a great deal of emotion. His initial thoughts being, “I was extremely excited to know that a team thought that highly of me. It was a great feeling for me to experience.”
Following the National’s selection, former baseball player Harold Reynolds stated, in reaction to the pick of Meyer, “He’s (Alex Meyer) the greatest pitcher to ever come out of the University of Kentucky.” When asked about his reaction to that statement by Reynold’s, Meyer replied, “That is a bold statement. I am very humbled to hear people say that, but, at the same time, I know I still have a lot of work to do. There have been some good pitchers [to] come out of the university…….to be put in a category with that group of people is pretty special.”
Meyer’s career in Professional baseball is just beginning. But, to the kids who’s baseball careers are just beginning, Meyer gives the following advice: “……make sure to work hard every single day, but the most important thing in baseball is to stay positive. The game has so much failure and it can be hard to bounce back at times, but if you stay positive, it can be extremely rewarding.”
Considering the fact that Alex Meyer went from an Instructional League in Greensburg, IN, to being drafted in the first round by the National’s, I’d say his advice is fairly accurate.
Big thanks to Alex Meyer for answering my questions.
Now that school is out, I’m going to be blogging a lot more now. Not an every day thing, but probably at least every other day or so.
Some blog entries will be random ones, about things going on in baseball, and some will be on hot topics. I’m not really sure yet.
But what I am sure of three upcoming blog entries:
The first will come sometime next week, as I’m going to do a Q and A with Alex Meyer on Monday, and form it all together in a blog entry sort of like Neiko Johnson’s. Unlike Neiko, Alex has already been drafted. (To the Nationals.) But I’m sure that Neiko will sign with a team soon. [Update….I was right. He signed with the Astros earlier today!]
The second entry that I’m sure of, is one on the June 21st Yankees @ Reds game. I’m showing up at 1:00 (for a 7:10 game) to try and get autographs from the Yankees players as they enter the stadium. I’m also taking my glove to BP for the first time EVER. And lastly I’m going to try and get the Yankees lineup cards from Girardi. It will definitely be an interesting/long blog entry, due to all that’s going to go down. So check back sometime after the game.
And the last entry that I’m one hundred percent sure I’m going to do is on the Louisville Slugger Factory. I’ve never been, so that should be nice.
Other than the three things listed above, I have no idea. The entries will be about whatever baseball related thing that I’m thinking about at the moment.
Lastly, in the unlikely event that you want to follow me on twitter, I’ll be posting links to my entries, and updates about random things that are going on. If you’re still reading and DO want to follow me, you can do so by clicking HERE.