Scouting and fantasy takes on this week's second-tier, but still intriguing, call-ups.
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 here.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP, Phillies
Scouting Take: The Cuban import entered 2014 having not thrown a competitive pitch since he left his home country. Gonzalez’s medicals revealed some injury concerns that prompted the Phillies to rework his deal and turn him into a reliever this year. He worked in the low 90s as a starter but can work in the mid-90s as a reliever. He also has a splitter and a spotty breaking ball. The Phillies still have plans to convert him back into a starter next year but he’ll have to tighten up the command and work on the breaking ball. —Mauricio Rubio
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One of the prospect team's most recent hires examines what he has learned.
A long time ago, my father told me, “Son, be the dumbest guy in the room, maybe you’ll learn something.” That message has always stuck with me, and I try to apply it to baseball as often as possible. Whether I’m sitting next to scouts at a minor-league game, or working with the rest of the prospect team here at Baseball Prospectus, I’m always learning and adapting.
The Situation: On Monday, the Cubs announced they will be calling up IF Javier Baez from Triple-A Iowa, in time to make his debut Tuesday night in Coors Field. Baez will be playing second base, with Arismendy Alcantara shifting to CF. Baez ranked as the no. 1 prospect in the Cubs system in the Baseball Prospectus offseason Cubs Top 10, no. 4 in the offseason Top 101, and no. 5 on the midseason top 50.
The Tigers promote one of the minors' best relief prospects.
The Situation: The Tigers bullpen has floundered out of the gate to the tune of a 4.22 ERA and a bunch of revolving doors for the last two spots. Enter Corey Knebel, the Tigers’ fifth-rated prospect according to Jason Parks' preseason ranking, and one of the best pure relief arms in the minors. Knebel will look to lock down the middle to late innings and hand the ball off to Joe Nathan.
Background: Selected in the compensatory first round (39th overall) in the 2013 draft out of the University of Texas, Knebel flew through the minors at a torrid pace after eviscerating the competition. In Low-A West Michigan last season, Knebel appeared in 31 games, allowed 14 hits, and struck out 41 with 15 saves, posting a .133 batting average against and a 0.87 ERA. After that stellar performance, he headed to the Arizona Fall League, where he 8 tossed 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs and striking out 11. To start this season, the Tigers gave Knebel an aggressive assignment to Double-A Erie—where he allowed two earned runs in 15 IP, striking out 23 with a WHIP of 1.06—before sending him to Triple-A Toledo for three appearances that spanned four scoreless innings.
Looks at Mark Appel, Miguel Almonte, and others on Jason's getaway day.
RHP Miguel Almonte: Limby righty with a very fast arm; from 3/4 slot, slings the ball, achieving above-average movement to his pitches; delivery requires a lot of coordination and balance, and is torque-heavy with a power generating letter-high frontside and hip rotation; struggles with opening up early and missing everything to the arm-side; started to lose his delivery later in the start and couldn’t find his release point; excellent extension when he finishes and stays over the ball.
Fastball is easy plus offering in the 92-94 range; can show both hard boring action into righties and heavy dive lower in the zone; command could eventually push this pitch above the plus distinction; changeup is money offering; solid-average to plus at present; 83-85 with excellent arm speed and heavy vertical action; pitch has both deception and movement and can be deployed in any count against any stick; slider is below-average at present; could get to average with more command and a sharper break; pitch in the upper 70s with some tilt, but its more slurvy and loose than tight, and it often starts to break too early on the arm-side and sweeps across the zone; low-70s curveball is actually tighter pitch with more bite but wasn’t utilized in the start.