OF Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
One of the reasons why the Rays were keen on allowing Carl Crawford to hit free agency was they had Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings. Now thatSam Fuld has come back to Earth statistically,Jennings’ call-up should be this summer.
Admittedly, the Rays are known for letting young talent simmer in the minor league cauldron for longer than they might deserve. Delmon Young was a top-five prospect on everybody’s list from 2004 to 2007 before he became a regular contributor.
Jennings’ talents are in fact similar to Crawford’s. His power numbers have improved slightly (eight HRs in 50 games this year), but he’ll get on base (.382 career OBP), score runs and steal bases. Be patient if you grab him because he’ll produce, once he arrives of course.
1B Anthony Rizzo, San Diego Padres
When you win a battle against cancer, in this case Limited Stage Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, baseball should be easy. For Anthony Rizzo, he is making it look easy.
At 6’3” and 220 pounds, he has the right frame for a big-league masher.
Acquired in the trade for Adrian Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox, Rizzo is next in line for the Padres at first base. He’s hitting .371 with 15 HRs and 60 RBIs in only 49 games for Triple-A Tucson. These PCL numbers are sure to come down once he arrives at pitcher-friendlyPetcoPark, but obviously the tools are there.
San Diegorecently sent Will Veneble to the minors, which will potentially allow them to move first baseman Brad Hawpe back to right field. The Padres’ offense needs a spark so it’s only a matter of time before they add Rizzo’s bat to their everyday lineup.
3B Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer may have beaten Mike Moustakas to the big leagues, but Moustakas is still a very good prospect of comparable talent. If you’re looking for power, look no further.
In 2010, Moustakas hit 36 homers and drove in 94 RBIs in only 118 minor league games. After a slow start this April, he has hit well with 34 hits in 107 at-bats in May. Pitch selection is a concern early in his career. His seven percent walk rate in the minors is underwhelming to say the least.
Compared to recent Royals’ call-up Hosmer, Moustakas is the better slugger, which is saying a lot since the former already has five homers in 99 MLB at-bats. The Royals will need to deal current third baseman Wilson Betemit to make room for the rookie, but Moustakas will be called up sooner rather than later.
SP Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies
Okay, I may be cheating a bit here since Juan Nicasio was recalled from Double-A Tulsa on May 28. But either way, his most recent outing was very impressive. Over seven innings, Nicasio allowed six hits, no earned runs and struck out two batters.
In nine minor league starts this year, Nicasio amassed a 5-1 record with 63 Ks in 56.2 innings. What’s encouraging to me are his low ERA (2.22) and WHIP (1.02). With Jorge De La Rosa out for the season with a torn ligament in his elbow, Nicasio will have his shot for a starting rotation spot.
Esmil Rogers is likely to return in the next two weeks, which could potentially bump Nicasio down into the bullpen, or even worse, optioned back to the minors. But keep in mind that No. 4 starter Clayton Mortensen hasn’t done much in his last three starts, which were all losses, to secure his role on the team. Nicasio is a potential add in NL-only leagues and someone to keep in mind in deeper formats if he gets hot.
SP Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
At the age of 20, it’s tough to make an impact as a major league pitcher. Julio Teheran felt that pressure in two early starts for the Braves. His Triple-A wunderkind talent did not translate, but he’ll be back at some point.
In his most recent minor league start, it was clear Teheran needed to get his confidence back. He allowed nine hits and five earned runs over six innings in his first loss this season.
Teheran is 4-1 at Triple-A Gwinnett with 41 Ks in 49.2 innings this year. He’s also sporting a 2.36 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. The Braves may have shaken the young man’s confidence by calling him up too early, but there is a reason BaseballAmericarated him as the No. 5 prospect before the season.
Don’t let these short-term struggles deter you when the Braves recall him. He has the potential to be a strong No. 2 starter at the next level.
2B Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
In case you haven’t heard, Seattleis in need of offense. The Mariners have been relying on Jack Wilson at second base this year, and while he is known for his glove, he’s only hitting .248 with 0 HRs and 5 RBIs. Just about anyone could be an improvement offensively.
Dustin Ackley started slow in the PCL but he has since taken off. The 23-year-old has improved his .211 batting average in April to .292. Add seven home runs and 26 RBIs along with a .400 OBP, and Ackley offers good value at the top of the order behind Ichiro Suzuki.
The only reason the Mariners may be slow to call him up is that he is still learning to play the position since he played first base while in college. ConsideringSeattlehas been willing to give young players the opportunity to prove their worth, it’s safe to assume Ackley will be one of the first young prospects called up.