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September 13, 2013

Covering the Call-Ups, Part Two

The Hitters

by Mark Anderson, Ben Carsley, Jason Cole, Craig Goldstein, Jeff Moore and Bret Sayre


We’ve devoted full articles to the most promising prospects promoted to the majors late this season, but we're offering scouting and fantasy takes on the best of the rest in a two-part series. The pitchers ran yesterday. Here are the position players.

JR Murphy, C, Yankees
Scouting Take:
A converted infielder, Murphy has made significant progress as a defender behind the plate, but even that progress leaves him as an adequate defensive catcher. His arm is just average and while he shows occasional quickness with his feet, pop times in the 1.95-2.00 range are relatively unique for Murphy. His receiving is not clean and there is still work to be done to polish his defensive tools. Offensively, Murphy has the balance and strength in his swing to project as a fringe-average hitter with average overall power once he settles into the big leagues. He makes frequent contact and has solid pitch recognition skills that should allow him to contribute in the bottom third of an MLB lineup. —Mark Anderson

Fantasy Take: Sandwiched between past Yankees Catcher Of The Future Austin Romine and current Yankees Catcher Of The Future Gary Sanchez, Murphy quietly produced in the upper minors this season. The 22-year-old hit .269/.347/.426 while basically splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A. Now in the majors, Murphy isn’t a threat for any serious playing time in 2013 but could factor into the Yankees’ catching plans in 2014. He’ll never be a top-10 option in mixed leagues, but he could perform at that level in AL-only formats, and that could happen in short order. It’s not a terribly sexy ceiling, but such is life with fantasy backstops. —Ben Carsley

***

Josmil Pinto, C, Twins
Scouting Take:
After flying under the radar in scouting circles for the better part of his career, Pinto exploded at Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Pinto’s knowledge of the strike zone and ability to get the barrel to the ball have led to lofty batting averages and good on-base ability, a trend that should continue at the highest level. While he likely won’t hit .300 in the majors, Pinto identifies enough pitches he can drive and does enough damage with them that he could hit .280 with 12-15 home runs a year. His defense is solid, though unspectacular, and there are plenty of people across the industry that believe Pinto could be a solid everyday catcher carried more by his bat than his average glove. —Mark Anderson

Fantasy Take: Just because small samples can be hilariously misleading doesn’t mean they can’t also be fun. Right now, the Twins’ catcher has an .542 BABIP in 30 at-bats in his major-league career—and while that clearly won’t even come close to continuing, there is some real value here. Pinto began to show signs of offensive improvement last season, but it wasn’t until this year at Double-A that he really showed a big step forward. In 107 games there, he hit .308/.411/.482 with 14 homers and 68 RBI. With Joe Mauer becoming increasingly unlikely to return this season, Pinto should get his share of at-bats down the stretch. And while it likely won't be enough to get him much attention in most formats, AL-only and deep mixed players should consider taking the leap while he's stroking the ball well. And as far as dynasty leaguers go, he makes for a nice stash in leagues where more than 15 catchers are active heading into 2014--especially if he can be held in a minor-league spot. —Bret Sayre

***

Jose Ramirez, 2B, Indians
Scouting Take:
Jumping all the way to Double-A as a 20-year-old – and skipping High-A – can be a daunting test for any prospect, but Ramirez handled the move by continuing to show a feel for contact, good speed and solid work with the glove. Ramirez’s ability to get the bat on the ball stands out at first sight, and he has the potential to be a .280-plus hitter at the big-league level. He has little power and projects for minimal on-base ability against advanced pitching, but his hit tool gives him a chance to play. Defensively, he handles the keystone well, though some scouts note that he struggles on the pivot because of a below-average arm and, at times, a slow transfer. Ramirez is an above-average runner who could swipe 20-25 bases playing every day. With a tough profile that is highlighted only by an ability to make contact, Ramirez will have a tough road ahead if he wants an everyday role, but he has a chance to be a fringe regular. —Mark Anderson

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Related Content:  Scouting,  Detroit Tigers,  Minor Leaguers

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