Our top-ranked preseason prospect makes his major league debut tonight.
The Situation: Pittsburgh left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is suffering from inflammation in his left forearm, causing him to miss a start and forcing the Pirates to look for a replacement in the rotation. Enter Gerrit Cole, the top-ranked pitching prospect on BP’s preseason rankings, who will make his major-league debut on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Background: A first-round pick of the Yankees in 2008, Cole opted not to sign and instead honored his commitment to UCLA, where he topped the Bruins’ rotation for three years. In 2011, the Pirates made him the no. 1 overall pick in the draft and signed him with an $8 million bonus. The right-hander made his official pro debut in 2012, dominating High-A Bradenton through 13 starts. He allowed just 53 hits in 67 innings while striking out 69 batters en route to a 2.55 ERA. The Pirates pushed him to Double-A Altoona in the second half of last season, and he responded with a 2.90 ERA and over a strikeout per inning in 12 starts. After another promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis to start the 2013 season, Cole has posted a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts with just 44 hits allowed in 68 innings, though he has seen his strikeout rate dip to 6.2 whiffs per nine innings.
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The Brewers try to solve their second-base problems by promoting a poor man's Jose Altuve.
The Situation: The Brewers made four roster moves on Monday, looking to shake things up on a club that’s just 7-24 since May 1. Gennett was among the beneficiaries, earning the call from Triple-A Nashville. He’ll take the roster spot vacated by veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez, who was released after hitting .177/.203/.230 in 41 games.
Background: Milwaukee’s 16th-round pick out of Sarasota (Fla.) High School in 2009, Gennett didn’t enter the professional ranks as a top prospect, but he has proven himself at each step on the minor-league ladder. A career .300 hitter across all four full-season levels over the last four seasons, Gennett has been an All-Star at each of the stops and represented Milwaukee in last year’s MLB Futures Game. Although the prospect has scuffled of late in Triple-A, he was still hitting .297/.342/.376 through 50 contests at the time of his call-up.
The Dodgers skipper may be excited about the minor-league production of his organization's top prospects, but neither ranks among Bret's top 25.
I would be remiss not to talk about this past week’s strangest story, at least as far as potential call-ups from the minor leagues are concerned. On Wednesday, Don Mattingly said that the Dodgers had “internal conversations” about calling up top prospects Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson from Double-A Chattanooga.
The way I see it, there are a few different plausible ways this could have gone down. The first is that Mattingly forgot that these two prospects were outfielders and thought they could shore up the Dodgers’ tenuous (that’s being kind) infield situation. The second is that Mattingly brought their names up as a joke to lighten the mood after another Dodgers loss, and then poked a few holes in his Andre Ethier voodoo doll before muttering something under his breath about grit. The final option is that after watching Juan Uribe, Nick Punto, Luis Cruz, and Dee Gordon play for the last eight weeks, he’s just given up on the idea of a traditional infield and instead wanted to go with a five-man outfield.
Desperate for a starter, the Jays call up their no. 2 pitching prospect from Double-A.
The Situation: After an active offseason that included the acquisition of starting pitchers Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, and Josh Johnson, the Blue Jays are now prepared to send their 10th starting pitcher of the season to the mound. In addition to Johnson’s injuries, J.A. Happ has been dealing with injuries of his own and Ricky Romero has been struggling through the first two months of the season. As if that weren’t enough, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison are still several months away from returning to the mound and the club was forced to send Ramon Ortiz to the hill this week. All of that leads to the call-up of left-hander Sean Nolin, the team’s no. 2-rated pitching prospect.
Background: A sixth-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2010, Nolin has had little trouble motoring through the minor leagues. After a 6.05 ERA in six New York-Penn League starts during his professional debut, Nolin has improved at every stop. With Low-A Lansing in 2011 he posted a 3.49 ERA in 108-1/3 innings, allowing just 102 hits and 31 walks while fanning 113 batters. He followed up that strong performance with a dazzling 2.19 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) for High-A Dunedin in 2012 before being promoted to Double-A New Hampshire. In just three starts with New Hampshire, Nolin notched a 1.20 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning. After some missed time early this season due to a pulled groin, Nolin has continued his Double-A dominance with a 1.17 ERA in three more starts.
The Orioles summon one of baseball's top pitching prospects to plug a hole in their rotation.
The Situation: The Orioles have dropped six of their last seven and now find themselves four games back in the AL East. Injury and underperformance in the starting rotation have already forced the Birds’ hand, with Freddy Garcia logging four underwhelming starts over the past three weeks. Rather than turning to T.J. McFarland or Jake Arrieta for Thursday’s start north of the border, Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter will turn the ball over to the no. 2 prospect in the Orioles’ system (and no. 13 prospect in baseball), Kevin Gausman, in an attempt to inject the rotation with some life, not to mention some electric stuff.
Background: Gausman was a sixth-round selection by the Dodgers out of Grandview High School (Aurora, CO), but he turned down first-round money in favor of two years at LSU, where he immediately made an impact, finishing eighth in the SEC in strikeouts, ninth in hits allowed, and fifth in batting average against. After a strong summer as part of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, Gausman dominated the SEC as a sophomore, leading the conference in strikeouts and finishing third nationally while serving as the Tigers’ Friday night starter and earning All-American honors from multiple publications. He was the first pitcher selected in the 2012 draft, going fourth overall to the Baltimore Orioles, and he signed a $4.32 million dollar deal, $120,000 over slot allotment.
The Astros, Marlins, and Mets are all prospect hotbeds, but each team has taken a different approach with its young players, several of whom highlight this week's list.
It’s getting to be that time of year where you can start weeding out the non-contenders from the eventual non-contenders. And for those franchises, it means decisions about when to call up their prospects. Through Monday, there were five teams with a winning percentage at .400 or below—but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to throw out the Blue Jays and the Angels. Both of those teams were expected to be division contenders, and they both have too much talent to be this bad the whole year and nothing coming on the farm (at least in the near future).
But those three remaining teams (the Astros, Marlins, and Mets) are not going to be contending at any point this season, and have strong prospects in the upper minors. However, each organization has treated their top guys differently. The Marlins are apparently just throwing caution to the wind, as they have both Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna on their active roster—both of whom ended the 2012 season in High-A. The Astros, on the other hand, appear to be letting their prospects marinate until they are closer to a contention window. They have Jarred Cosart throwing well in Triple-A and George Springer absolutely killing it at Double-A, but I don’t expect to see either any time soon. Finally, the Mets have been burdened recently by financial constraints, so it was no shock to see the reports break that Zack Wheeler would be kept down in the minors until the Super Two deadline passes. The same would have been true for Travis d’Arnaud if he had stayed healthy enough for it to matter.
Is Goose Gossage right to say that Mariano Rivera has it "easy?"
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Kevin Baker is a novelist and historian who is currently at work on a social history of New York City baseball, to be published by Pantheon.
If you tuned out when the Rangers led 7-5 in the ninth, you missed quite a finish
It was the best worst World Series game—or perhaps the worst best World Series game—I've ever seen. Four and a half hours, 11 innings, 42 players, 19 runs, 23 men left on base, six home runs, five errors, two final-strike comebacks, a handful of bad relief performances, some managerial howlers including a cardinal (not Cardinal) sin… and it all ended with the much-maligned Joe Buck giving a fitting nod to history by emulating one of his father's most famous calls. As David Freese's game-winning blast landed in the grass beyond the center field wall of Busch Stadium, Buck exclaimed, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" Game Six of the 2011 World Series will be remembered as a classic—a Game Six that can sit alongside those of 1975, 1986, and 1991, among maybe a couple others—as the Cardinals staved off elimination to beat the Rangers 10-9, forcing a Game Seven.
A look at how the Tigers snatched Game 3 from the Bronx Bombers
On Sunday, it was Miguel Cabrera, one of the league's best hitters, beatingFreddy Garcia, a back-of-the-rotation survivor. On Monday, it was Brandon Inge, Ramon Santiago, and Don Kelly outlasting CC Sabathia, the Yankees ace, with Delmon Young delivering a late kick to the sternum of the Bronx Bombers' bullpen. By stars and by scrubs, the Tigers have taken a 2-1 lead over the Yankees in the AL Division Series, and they stand one A.J. Burnett start away from knocking the league's number one seed out of the postseason.