Promotions have dominated the news this week, as teams return from their respective All-Star breaks and draftees begin to sign with their clubs. The minors get shaken up again as most of their dominant stars move up to a higher league and new talent arrives. It’s an exciting time. Let’s get to it!
On The Shelf
Jesse Winker, the top outfield prospect in the Reds system and so much more, has hit the DL with a right wrist injury. This injury feels especially bitter considering Winker was shut down in 2014 after struggling with a partially torn tendon in that same wrist caused by a car crash. Winker avoided surgery, and continued mashing his way to Triple-A, where he was slashing .286/.381/.367 this season. Reinjuring his wrist could prove to be a worst case scenario for Winker, so we’ll keep an eye on this injury.
Mike Matuella has been shut down for the season after suffering a right elbow ligament sprain. This is crushing news for Matuella, an immensely talented pitcher whose stock plummeted when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery before the draft. Eventually selected by the Rangers in the third round, Matuella had the potential of being a top steal of the draft. He made one start with Low-A Spokane in which he went three innings and allowed a single hit, and now faces an uncertain medical future and another long rehab process. We feel for you, Mike. Hang in there.
Monte Harrison also caught a bad break (literally) as he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured left hamate bone. Harrison, a former football star, was considered the best athlete in the 2014 draft class. A dismal campaign in full-season ball as a 19-year-old revealed the flaws in his game, and he has been focusing on growing his fledgling baseball skills to catch up with the competition. A grisly broken ankle ended his campaign last season, so this injury stings even more. Harrison was finally putting it together before the broken hamate (.321/.377.629 in June), so hopefully he’ll return in time to continue the gains he’s made over the last year. Will Siskel managed to catch Harrison just before he hit the DL, and you can read his write-up (and watch his video!) on a Monday Morning Ten Pack from a couple weeks ago.
Movin’ On Up
After rumors swirled back and forth last week, Yoan Moncada has been promoted to Double-A Portland. Moncada had clearly checked all his boxes in Salem, where he slashed .307/.427/.496 with 36 stolen bases in 284 plate appearances. Those 36 steals lead all of minor league baseball, as well as Moncada’s double (25) and walk (45) totals, which rank in the top ten. As you would expect, Moncada was elected to the Carolina League All-Star Game, but missed it along with five regular season games due to injuries written off as “general wear-and-tear”. Look for the switch-hitter to continue his dominating season in Portland as he nears ever-closer to Boston.
The promotion news continues onto Amed Rosario, the Mets shortstop prospect that raised plenty of eyebrows in his 2015 High-A campaign, where he posted a .642 OPS at shortstop as the youngest player in the league. Now at Double-A Binghamton at age 20, Rosario will look to keep the ball moving and expand upon his strong repeat of High-A, where he slashed .309/.359/.442. Now considered a lock to stick at shortstop, Rosario has become one of the highest-touted shortstop prospects in the game. Keep your eyes peeled for an Eyewitness Report dropping soon from my fellow FSL Prospect Team specialists.
It’s been a busy week in the Reds organization. Amir Garrett, who BP ranked as their fourth-best organizational prospect, has been promoted to Triple-A Louisville. There are likely more boxes for him to check in Triple-A, but a call-up at some point this season, even if it’s a September cup-of-coffee, seems likely. Garrett attacks hitters with a big fastball and an improving slider, helping him strike out a batter an inning in Double-A, and he still hasn’t allowed a home run this season (82.2 IP).
Tyler Mahle has been promoted up to Double-A Pensacola to fill Garrett’s spot in the rotation. Mahle’s impressive 2015 put him on the radar as an intriguing starting pitching prospect who limits walks and has middle-of-the-rotation upside. He’s built on that reputation by throwing a no-hitter and improving his secondaries without sacrificing his plus-plus control. Promoted with Mahle is Taylor Sparks, a third-baseman with approach issues and Jacob Ehret, a middle-relief arm.
The Pirates have also promoted some high-level prospects. Austin Meadows, the heralded outfield prospect you’ve been hearing about, has been promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis after demolishing Double-A pitching to a tune of .311/.365/.611 in 190 PAs. Meadows had a reputation for an advanced hit tool, but the power surge that has arrived this season is simply icing on the cake. Meadows is still only 21, so Pittsburgh may want to give him all the time he needs before any kind of call-up.
The other call-up for Pittsburgh was Kevin Newman, the shortstop prospect who’s torn up High-A Bradenton with a video game slashline of .366/.428/.494. Steve Givarz recently published an Eyewitness Account on Newman (spoiler alert: 70 hit tool) in which he called him, “one of the best pure hitters I have ever scouted”.
The Cubs decided to get in on the promotion fun, and sent Ian Happ up to Double-A Tennessee. Happ’s a household name to the prospect-hound Cubs fans, but the baseball community will certainly be hearing of his exploits sooner rather than later. A switch-hitter with the defensive capacity for all three outfield spots as well as a potentially passable glove at second base, Happ is a high-floor prospect who’s quickly becoming a high-ceiling prospect. At High-A Myrtle Beach, Happ slashed .296/.410/.475. Sheesh.
While slightly overshadowed by the other arms in the Atlanta system, Chris Ellis has posted great numbers in his Double-A campaign and earned a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett. Ellis is likely known to most fans as a return in the Andrelton Simmons trade. He has a big-league fastball but has been held back by poor command and developing secondaries that still quite haven’t, you know, developed.
Adalberto Mejia joins the ranks of the promoted as he’s now reached Triple-A Sacramento. Mejia’s stock dipped last year when he was both injured and suspended, but his performance in Double-A this season has showcased his return. In his eleven starts, he posted a 1.94 ERA and 0.985 WHIP. Mejia has the makings of a fourth-starter, a lefty with three solid pitches, and could arrive in the bigs this season.
Phil Bickford has been promoted to High-A San Jose thanks to his 2.70 ERA and 69 nice strikeouts in 60 innings. In his first start with the San Jose Giants, he struck out thirteen (13!) in just six innings. Bickford has had an eventful career to date, including being drafted twice in the first round and flunking a drug test (marijuana) days before the 2015 draft. His rising fastball is the main event, but inconsistent secondaries might force him to a bullpen role. BP’s David Lee caught him recently and you can read his Eyewitness Report here.
On the Baltimore side of the promotion wave, D.J. Stewart has been bumped up to High-A Frederick. Drafted out of Florida State, Stewart went 25th-overall in last year’s draft, but has struggled at the plate in his young career. Considered a polished hitter with an impressive approach at the dish, the holes in his swing been exposed at the lower levels of A-Ball. In Frederick, he’ll look to pull up his average and slugging percentages while maintaining the gains he’s made in the OBP department this season.
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