The Situation: Arizona made a smorgasbord of moves this winter to position themselves as contenders in the NL West. They currently sit two-plus touchdowns out of first place. With the team all but eliminated from playoff contention and Zack Greinke ailing, the Diamondbacks will call on the best prospect in the system, right-hander Braden Shipley.
Background: Shipley came to Nevada as a true two-way prospect, and was actually better with the bat early on, earning second-team All-WAC honors as a shortstop. That quickly changed, as Shipley transformed himself to one of the best right-handed starters west of the Mississippi, and earned top-10 consideration during his junior year. However, Shipley’s stock slid on draft day causing him to fall to the Diamondbacks with the 15th overall pick. Since then, he’s put up solid—if not spectacular—numbers, posting a career 3.79 ERA in just under 442 innings with a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.70. As is so often the case, those numbers don’t truly tell the story of how talented Shipley is, and the DBacks have seen enough to believe he’s ready to get big-league hitters out.
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Monday is turning into a great day for prospect debuts, but this one is the most great.
The Situation: Houston is right in the thick of the playoff chase again, and with A.J. Reed struggling to get on base or hit for power upon his promotion, the Astros will instead call on the best prospect in their system, Alex Bregman.
Background: Bregman was a potential second-round selection coming into the 2012 draft out of Albuquerque, but it was clear that he was set on attending LSU, and attend LSU he did. He quickly established himself as one of the best players in college baseball, posting a .963 OPS in his freshman year and quickly became a legit candidate to be the top player taken in the 2015 draft. A so-so sophomore season saw his stock slide ever so slightly, but he hit .323/.412/.535 and was taken second overall by Houston that June. After an impressive first professional season, Bregman destroyed pitching this spring/summer, posting a 1.016 OPS, earning a trip to the Futures Game (where he nearly hit for the cycle), and becoming one of the best prospects in baseball.
This dimunitive righty is ready to dish out some heat in the nation's capital.
The Situation: Sammy Solis is headed to the disabled list, and despite the Nationals having A.J. Cole and Austin Voth waiting in the wings in Syracuse, the Nationals will call on Lopez to make his big-league debut against the Dodgers on Tuesday.
Background: Lopez was given a (relatively) paltry $17,000 to sign out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, and after entering the Washington organization, he was far from a household name, starting his pro career off with two pedestrian minor-league seasons. Than 2014 happened. He came out popping near-triple digits on the radar gun, posted a 1.08 ERA in stops at Auburn and Hagerstown, and quickly established himself as one of the most intriguing right-handed arms in the lower level. He was solid—if not spectacular in 2015—but the big step forward was this season. He struck out 100 hitters in just over 76 innings with a 3.18 ERA, and after two solid starts in the International League, the Nationals felt confident enough to give him a shot against big-league hitters. —Christopher Crawford
It's only fitting that Healy plays for the O's. No wait, it's the A's. Sorry, still getting used to it.
The Situation: The A’s are not very good, and their chances of making the postseason are nope. They’ll now get a chance to take a look at some of the talent in the organization without the worry of October, and one of those talents is first baseman Ryon Healy.
Background: Healy was one of the real risers of the 2013 MLB Draft, seeing his stock increase due to a strong junior season at the University of Oregon that took him from a middle of day three pick to a guy that some thought would go before the end of day one. As so often happens, concerns about taking a first baseman early won out, and he ended up “falling” to the Athletics with their third-round pick that June. After an inauspicious start to his professional career, Healy appeared to turn a corner in 2015 by hitting .302 in Double-A Midland, but he’s been even more impressive in 2016, posting a .940 OPS and hitting .326 in stops at the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues. Those numbers earned him a trip to this year’s Futures Game, and now earn him a call-up to the big show.
The Situation: The All-Star break has come and gone, and we’ll start to see teams in contention begin to bring in reinforcements internally and externally. One of those teams is the White Sox. One of those players is Carson Fulmer. You can probably see where this is going, but just in case it didn’t smack you in the face, Fulmer is coming up to help the White Sox and their not-so-great bullpen.
Background: Fulmer was a potential top 100 pick coming out of All Saints Academy in Winter Haven, Florida, and the Red Sox made a run at signing him after taking him in the 15th round of the 2012 draft. His stock soared upon entering Vanderbilt, helping lead the Commodores to a College World Series title in 2014 and finishing second in his junior year. The White Sox took him eighth in the 2015 draft. He dominated hitters in High-A Winston-Salem upon signing, but he had his share of struggles this spring, as seen in his 4.76 ERA at Double-A Birmingham. He has given up just two runs his his last 20 innings, however, and after an impressive showing at the Futures Game this Sunday, the White Sox believe he’s ready to contribute to the big-league staff.
The Situation: The Pirates sit on the periphery of the playoff picture and 8.5 games out of the division but might be smelling fresh hope, as the Cubs stumble (a relative term, here). In recent days they’ve turned to Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and now to Bell to jump-start their rotation and lineup.
And here I thought A.Toles were ring-shaped reefs.
The Situation: Decimated by injury, five-and-a-half hour games, and the terrible-starting-pitching-induced need for a bullpen with the population of a small country, the Dodgers found themselves backed into a corner with just a three-man bench yesterday. With Will Venable DFA’d, the club was in need of some temporary outfield depth and has turned to the hot-hitting Toles, who brings one of the most unique rags-to-riches biographies you’ll see this side of The Rookie to his big league debut.
Background: Toles was considered a first-round talent at draft time in 2012, but slid to Tampa Bay in the third round on account of severe makeup concerns. He’d been kicked off his Division I team at Tennessee, then suspended by his junior college team during the spring, and ultimately fit the mold for Andrew Friedman’s run of gambling on talented players who were undervalued for character-concern reasons. He looked like a great investment at first, crushing the Midwest League with an .826 OPS and 62 stolen bases in 2013 and earning the Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year title. But he ran afoul again in 2014, culminating in a suspension for the second half, and was ultimately released after the season. He went unclaimed, then sat out all of 2015 while working at a grocery store. The Dodgers did ample homework on him, ultimately inviting him to fall instructs where he impressed on and off the field and earned himself another shot. The now-24-year-old started him at Rancho Cucamonga this spring, where he hit .370 in 22 games, and he hasn’t stopped hitting in the wake of two subsequent promotions through Triple-A.
Despite a 9.5 game deficit in the Central, the Pirates glass is now half full.
The Situation: The Pirates have stumbled through the season so far, much due to the struggles and injuries of the rotation. Fellow top prospect Jameson Taillon joined the club earlier this year, and it is now Glasnow’s turn to try and stick in Pittsburgh.
The Situation: With Chris Coghlan joining the ranks of injured Cubs outfielders, Chicago has chosen to promote yet another acclaimed prospect: Jeimer Candelario. As the Cubs continue to lose veteran position players, the team gets younger and younger. Candelario joins Albert Almora, Carl Edwards Jr., and Willson Contreras on the list of recent internal replacements under 25. Candelario will look to carry on the youth movement in Chicago as they attempt to pull out of a sub-par stretch.
The Situation: Nationals co-ace Stephen Strasburg is suffering from recurring back and rib problems. Washington has sputtered, bringing the Mets back into the National League East race, right as New York comes to town for a three-game set. Enter Lucas Giolito, the best right-handed pitching prospect baseball has seen since, well, Stephen Strasburg.
His twitter handle is @you_found_nimmo. You're welcome.
The situation: Michael Conforto has hit .119/.182/.237 in June. He hit .169/.242/.349 in May. He has a wrist issue that required a cortisone injection recently. Meanwhile, the Mets are just three games back of the Nationals despite hitting .231/.303/.392 as a team over the past thirty days. Something had to give eventually, and the Mets swapped one first-round outfield pick for another, calling up the 2011 13th-overall selection, Brandon Nimmo.
After burning through first baseman of the future in Jon Singleton and Tyler White, the Astros turn to A.J. Reed.
The Situation: The Astros are white-hot, taking over second place in the AL West over the freezer-burn cold Mariners and positioning themselves for another run at the wild-card. To help with that pennant push, they’ll call on one of their best offensive prospects in the system: First-baseman A.J. Reed.
Background: It may seem hard to believe now, but at one point Reed was one of the best two-way prospects in college baseball while at the University of Kentucky. After a dominant junior year, most believed that his future was with the bat, and that included the Astros who took him with the 42nd pick of the 2014 MLB Draft. To say that his stock shot up upon entering the Houston system would be the understatement of this and many other articles. After posting an impressive .289/.375/.522 line in stops at both Tri-City and Quad Cities (note: That’s a lot of cities), Reed was dominant in 2015, recording a backyard baseball-like .340/.432/.612 with 34 homers and 86 walks for Lancaster and Corpus Christi. He got off to a slow start with ridiculously high expectations, but he’s hit .282/.333/.576 in June, and Houston believes he’s ready to contribute to the big-league club.