Thursday, June 20, 2013
Next prospects up
By Jason A. Churchill
In recent days, Anthony Rendon, Zack Wheeler, Wil Myers, Mike Zunino and Gerrit Cole have each been called up to the big leagues. The next wave of candidates for similar treatment are seasoning in the minors right now and may include the following premium talents. The first two were suggested and discussed by ESPN Insider's Keith Law:
Yordano Ventura, RHP -- Kansas City Royals
Ventura, 22, was just promoted from Double-A to Triple-A two weeks ago, but as Law notes he throws really hard -- up to 100 mph -- and could help the Royals in a relief role this summer. He's struck out 90 batters in 72 1/3 innings this season.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B -- Houston Astros
Singleton is back from his 50-game suspension and in 14 games has hit and hit with some power. He was promoted to Triple-A after just 11 games in Double-A and is not likely to remain in the minors much longer if he continues to perform.
Sonny Gray, RHP -- Oakland Athletics
Gray continues to have the occasional hiccup with his control -- he issued five bases on balls three starts ago -- but he's also shown more consistency in that department than a year ago and has kept the ball down in the zone and out of the middle of the plate, serving up just three long balls in more than 80 innings of work. The next time the A's need a starter, Gray, who is missing bats at a rate of one strikeout per inning, could get the nod.
Nick Castellanos, OF -- Detroit Tigers
We've discussed Castellanos here before, and the 21-year-old has sustained his performance for more than a full month, and he's not slowing down. He's batting .362/.430/.594 in June, has cut down the strikeouts and increased his walk rate without sacrificing power. The division-leading Tigers may not be ready to call on Castellanos just yet, but barring the club's top pick in 2010 hitting a wall soon, he may force their hand.
It's worth noting that the Super Two threshold is nearing, and clubs likely will soon hit a safe date range for avoiding starting the arbitration clock on their top young talents. The status is based on a percentage -- 22 percent -- rather than an exact date, so clubs generally play it safe. The top 22 percent of the players (in terms of service days) with more than two years of big-league service, but less than three years, will qualify for Super Two arbitration status, granting them a fourth year of such eligibility and another substantial raise in salary. The safe date is likely to be in late June, and may even hit July. We won't know for sure for a few years, as this year's first-year players won't become potential Super Two candidates until after the 2015 season, and there's no guarantee that all of the call-ups will remain in the majors and accrue major-league service every day between now and the end of the '15 season.