There are some exciting things--like pennant races and streaks--grabbing the MLB news despite the start of football season. This week, there were a lot of interesting promotions made by the big league teams, shining some light on a cluster of new--and a few old--faces. Let's take a look. Note that next week I will post my annual list of players who make me nervous going into 2018, and the final week those names I really like as the post-season arrives.
Perhaps the most anticipated call-up over the 2017 second half was JP Crawford, the Phillies #1 pick in 2013. Crawford split 2016 between Reading (.265-3-13) and Lehigh Valley (.244-3-30), showing a little speed (12 swipes) and very good zone judgement with 72 walks to 80 whiffs, good for a .349 OBP in lieu of a .250 batting average. Crawford spent the total of 2017 at Lehigh again, batting .243 with 15 homers and 63 RBI, continuing with the solid eye, logging another .350 OBP. He is surely the shortstop of the Phillies future, at least at this moment in time and space, and is worth stashing in any kind of keeper format.
Another anticipated player--though a return this time--is the Pirates' 6'8" hurler Tyler Glasnow. A high school pick from the fifth round in 2011, Glasnow has indeed been dominant in the minor leagues, logging a 45-21, 2.02 mark over 117 starts and 593.3 innings, with 785 strikeouts and a terrific 1.07 WHIP. As of yet, those skills have not translated to the big league level with a 2-8, 6.49 mark over 73.3 innings. Glasnow, at 9-2, 1.93, was great at Indianapolis this season, but not so much with Pittsburgh (2-6, 7.45), and at 24, it is time for the lanky right-hander to show us what he can do. Expect Glasnow to make or break for the Bucs rotation next year. Make means success, break a likely life in the pen.
The Mets have been trying to figure out what to do at the hot corner since David Wright began his injury dance a handful of years back. Perhaps Phil Evans, a 15th round high school pick in 2011, is the answer. Evans ran a .260-30-266 line over 609 minor league at-bats, with 193 walks to 359 strikeouts, good for a weakish .323 OBP. The 25-year-old might make a decent utility player, but he probably is not the "right" answer at third in Citi Field.
Raimel Tapia has been up and down with the Rockies this season, filling in at Coors while posting a ridiculous .369-2-30 mark with 45 runs scored over 58 games at Albuquerque. The 23-year-old Dominican native hit .279 with a couple of dingers and five swipes over 136 Rockies at-bats, all of which point to a fun potential future. Tapia does seem to make decent contact, but he will need to improve his zone skills with just 160 walks to 405 whiffs. Still, there is some serious promise, with the bottom being a #4 outfielder at this point.
As if the Dodgers were not just good, but deep enough in arms, their #1 selection from 2015, out of Vanderbilt, Walker Buehler, was promoted for the fall roster push. The right-hander signed at the end of 2015, then spent the bulk of 2016 on the DL. But in 2017, Buehler has whipped through the team's system, moving from Rancho Cucamonga (0-0, 1.10) to Tulsa (2-2, 3.49), and then on to Oklahoma City (1-1, 4.63), putting together a season of 4-3, 3.25 over 88.6 frames with 125 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP, allowing opposing batters just a .208 average. Buehler is more than worth tracking during the off-season and into the spring.
While we are looking at the Dodgers, if you were wondering just how Joc Pederson has fared since his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City, the results are dismal, as 20 games and 72 at-bats gave way to a .167-3-9 line with a .552 OPS. Not good, and maybe trade time for the Bums?
A couple of more quick shots on those promising but underachieving prospects, Deolis Guerra, who has always scored high on my Top 250 Prospect List, might have found a home in the pen. Guerra, now 28, turned in 41 innings for the Angels' minor league affiliate at Salt Lake City, going 4-1, 1.98 with a pair of saves, 41 whiffs, and a solid 0.83 WHIP. Guerra could challenge for ninth inning time in 2018.
The Mariners swapped for Daniel Vogelbach last year during the trade deadline, acquiring the former second-rounder in 2011 from the Cubs. Vogelbach surely has power, as witnessed by his .287-100-438 line with an .866 OPS over 669 minor league games. Vogelbach has a decent eye with 412 minor league walks to 491 strikeouts (.390 OBP), though that skill still has not translated to the Majors, as exhibited by his .138-0-1 line over 15 games. The first sacker should be ready to take over a starting gig next spring after hitting .290-17-83 this season at Tacoma over 125 games that included 76 walks to 98 strikeouts. He looks to be good once he adjusts, kind of like how Joey Gallo has got the hang.
Austin Hays, a third-round selection of the Orioles in 2016, has also produced a solid season, hitting .329-32-95 while scoring 85 runs to go with 32 doubles spending his time split between Frederick and Bowie. The 22-year-old outfielder will likely start his 2018 season at Triple-A, but Hays has a .330-36-113 line over 166 minor league games with 42 two-base hits. Hays does need zone work with 36 walks to 113 strikeouts, but he is close and again worth tracking.
Remember to go to the Tout Wars site for our Friday picks. And, tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Thursday night at 9 PM ET.
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