Now that the season has gotten underway and injuries are piling up all across the league, the minor league depth of many teams is being tested. Some of the names being called up are quality prospects like the Yankees’ Miguel Andujar, but there are also some deeper prospects making their debuts, including Corey Oswalt of the Mets and Jaime Barria of the Angels. Let’s take a look at some of the rookies and what we can expect to see from them.
Miguel Andujar – Third Baseman – New York Yankees
This one is less of a recent call-up but more of a playing time situation. With Brandon Drury going on the DL with blurred vision, it’s hard to tell when Drury might make it back to the big league team. This paves the way for Miguel Andujar to get his chance to take the job and run away with it. He has struggled through his first 22 plate appearances, totaling a .150/.182/.150 slash line with no home runs and no stolen bases.
As for what Andujar can potentially bring to the team, the stolen bases haven’t really been a part of his game since 2015 when he stole 12 in 520 plate appearances. You can expect the odd swipe here and there, but don’t count on them. Most of his value comes from the top-flight hit tool he possesses. The potential had always been there, but last year he elevated his game to the next level by hitting .315 in his 522 minor league appearances. Unfortunately, he doesn’t walk much, getting on base at roughly a 6% clip throughout his career. His power still has room to grow, but he did hit 16 homers last year, and playing half of his games in Yankee Stadium might allow for some growth in that department.
Andujar is in no way the next Nolan Arenado, but he is a quality prospect that should get into a groove at the plate eventually now that he’s been given the third base job. His defense is good enough to help keep him in the lineup, as well, so with Drury’s situation unclear (no pun intended), he could potentially keep the job all season. If that happens, I wouldn’t expect to see him hit .300 right off the bat, but I think .275 is more than reasonable. I think with 500 plate appearances, he should also get to those 15 home runs and likely eclipse that number with the way the ball is flying out of the yard this year. So don’t pay a premium price for him if he’s available in your league, but if you have a need and you have the space, you could do much worse than 23-year-old.
Corey Oswalt – Starting Pitcher – New York Mets
Even with Zack Wheeler expected to come off the DL to take a rotation spot, the Mets opted to call up Oswalt as some bullpen insurance. A starter in the minor leagues, Oswalt gets by with a mid to low 90s fastball with a bit of sink, a slider and a changeup that both grade out as average right now. Since he’s expected to be a bullpen piece for now instead of starting, it’s feasible to think that he might add some fastball velocity with the shorter pitch segments he will be undertaking.
While I actually like Oswalt as a prospect, it’s kind of baffling to see him get the call for this kind of reason. Pitching him out of the bullpen isn’t totally ridiculous, but doing it just to get some bullpen depth only to likely send him back down to Triple-A to continue starting doesn’t make a lot of sense. He’s by no means another Noah Syndergaard, but it’s hard to see why doing this with a prospect showing a lot of promise would be a good idea.
It’s worth ignoring Oswalt for now, but with some injuries to the rotation, there’s a chance he gets the call down the road to actually start for the big league club.
Tyler Beede – Starting Pitcher – San Francisco Giants
The 14th overall pick from the 2014 draft, Tyler Beede made his debut Tuesday night pitching against the Diamondbacks at home in San Francisco. He threw four rough innings, giving up three hits and five walks while striking out three and allowing two runs. It wasn’t the prettiest of starts, and though we can plausibly chalk it up to first-start jitters, the truth is there will be starts like this in the young pitcher’s career. Beede struggled last year in 109 Triple-A innings with a 4.79 ERA, 6.85 K/9, and 3.22 BB/9. Without a true defined out pitch, he tends to give up a lot of fly balls and home runs, and unless he can stop walking 3+ batters per inning, he’s going to continue to struggle.
With some mixed results coming from Beede combined with the return of Jeff Samardzija, it’s doubtful that he sticks in the rotation for the long term. Though he was once considered a can’t-miss pitching prospect, some mixed results in the minors have downgraded his prospect status, and expecting too much out of him will likely end in some heartbreak. I could see him making a handful of starts early on, then being sent down when he’s no longer needed. That will allow him more seasoning in the minors and stop his service clock. If he gets called up later in the year because of more rotation injuries, then I could see him sticking in the rotation. However, I’m not expecting much from the 24-year-old hurler. It’s best to take a wait-and-see approach here.
Jaime Barria – Starting Pitcher – LA Angels
JC Ramirez’s decision to undergo Tommy John surgery, coupled with injuries to Matt Shoemaker and Andrew Heaney, necessitated a call-up for some pitching depth. Parker Bridwell would have likely been the guy, but due to rules regarding sending prospects up and down, Jaime Barria was the name called instead. A slightly less heralded pitching prospect out of the Angels system, Barria tore his way through the minors by relying on his ability to limit walks and induce light contact against opposing batters. He is an extreme fly ball pitcher, and though that is not a great thing to be in this era of home runs, he has the control to potentially provide some solid innings.
Unfortunately for Barria and for fantasy owners, it’s doubtful that he’s up for long. Like I mentioned earlier, it likely would have been Parker Bridwell getting the call if he hadn’t just been sent down. In addition, Heaney and fellow hurler Nick Tropeano are both slated to come back in the next few days. This means that, unless he sticks in the bullpen, there just isn’t much chance for Barria to stay up with the big league club. However, with the Angels rotation being full of question marks, it’s not completely crazy to foresee Barria getting some more starts throughout the season. If he does, expect a fourth starter at best right now, but he does have room to grow for future seasons.