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
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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.
The Situation: Oakland’s pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries, and with Sean Manaea and Rich Hill both rehabbing, Dillon Overton will be the next prospect to step up and get a chance to show what he can do in green and gold.
Background: Overton was a highly regarded prospect in his time at the University Of Oklahoma, and was actually the “go-see” pitcher to start the year on a staff that included Jon Gray. A so-so junior season along with injury concerns saw his stock drop, but Oakland saw enough to take him in the second round of the 2013 draft. He quickly underwent Tommy John surgery after signing, and didn’t make his pro debut until the summer of 2014. He overmatched hitters in his time in Arizona and the NYPL upon his return, and in much tougher surroundings in 2015, he was able put up solid numbers in the treacherous Cal League and even better numbers upon the promotion to Double-A. Before the call-up he was more than holding his own for Triple-A Nashville, posting a 3.01 ERA with 72 strikeouts in just under 83 innings.
Don't make the obvious Kuhl/cool joke. Don't make the obvious Kuhl/cool joke. Don't make the obvious Kuhl/cool joke.
The Situation: Clayton Kershaw has been sensational for the Dodgers, posting an unheard of strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.57 ERA. He might be the best left-handed pitcher any of us have ever seen. On Sunday night, he’ll be faced by Chad Kuhl.
Background: Kuhl was an unheralded ninth-round pick out of the University of Delaware, but was so impressive that the Pirates skipped Low-A and sent him to the Florida State League for his first professional season. He pitched in Bradenton, but his stock really jumped up last year after posting a 2.48 ERA in just under 153 innings at Double-A Altoona. He’s been just as good in Indianapolis, and while he was overshadowed by the more “famous” (and better) pitching prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, his 2.58 ERA and 58/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio is pretty impressive.