This week we have one of the biggest hyped prospects being called up. We will also feature some sizzling summer prospects and I’ll explain why most batters and pitchers don’t make it to AAA before being called up. Lastly, we will have a Jhonny Brito update, maybe.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospect News and Notes
- Elly De La Cruz is our first sizzling summer prospect. One of the most hyped prospects in recent memory showed off his skills in his first two major league games. Three extra-base hits including a home run that may not have landed yet have dazzled Reds fans and given hope to an organization that doesn’t often have hope. A note of caution here as De La Cruz is striking out more often than my teenage daughter looks at her phone.
- The always injury-riddled Yankees called up Randy Vasquez this week. He has pitched well for 10.1 innings and a 1.74 ERA though with a FIP close to 5.00 and three hit batters, so there is some improvement needed. Not a bad start overall though.
- Speaking of the Yanks. Jhonny Brito is still in AAA and while the Yankees haven’t given up on him it may be a while before he is called up again.
- Mike Vasil for the Mets has been promoted from AA to AAA. One of the most hyped pitching prospects the Mets have had in a few years has struck out 28.9% of batters in AA and the Mets are in need of some homegrown talent pitching-wise.
- Jhonny Brito is still in AAA and doesn’t have much of a chance of being called up anytime soon.
- Often a trade target that the Dodgers weren’t willing to give up in trades, Landon Knack has finally figured it out, posting a WHIP under 1.00 in AA and an ERA just above 2.00. With Gavin Stone clearly not the answer, Knack could be up for spot starts very soon for the often-injured Dodgers rotation.
- The Twins have deemed it fit to promote Blayne Enlow to AAA. A forgotten prospect who was wildly inconsistent before having Tommy John surgery. He has come back with a 3.17 for AA Wichita. If he is able to prove himself, he could see some spot starts before the year is done
Why don’t your favorite minor leaguers ever make it to AAA?
I was asked recently in my direct messages why the top Minor League Baseball Prospects often never make it to the AAA level. It’s actually a good question though the answers involved are simpler than you think.
First and foremost, organizational depth charts play a huge role. There isn’t always a spot for a player. A lot of top prospects aren’t going to get called up for a spot start. Hunter Gaddis for the Guardians is a perfect example. He has flirted with the Guardians starting rotation and long relief most of the season. Gaddis isn’t really a pitcher the Guardians are grooming for big things though. He was up before Tanner Bibee, Peyton Battenfield, and the highly-ranked Gavin Williams. He’s a safe pick.
Second, and not really surprising for most teams, is they don’t want their best prospects to get knocked around in AAA. The highest level of the minor leagues is littered with veteran players and young players with more experience. Sometimes you have to shield your youngest star players like you would shield your children. Obviously, team strategy is different for each organization.
In closing, there isn’t an exact formula for players getting called up. I do hope some of these factors answer your questions but at the end of the day, baseball is still an old man’s game where gut feelings still outweigh analytics.
Ceddanne Rafaela, Red Sox
Currently towards the back end of the top 100 in many prospect rankings, I’m not really sure why Ceddanne Rafaela doesn’t get more love. He offers a solid hit tool and borderline elite speed, stealing 27 bases in AA this season. He is average or above average in every facet of the game. He hit .299 between high-A and AA last season and is hitting .285 this season. There is a bit of an OBP problem as he hasn’t been above .350 OBP for most of his minor league career. This is a boom-or-bust deluxe special right here. He shouldn’t be available but if he is grab him.
Tommy Mace, Guardians
An older prospect, Tommy Mace played his college ball at the University of Florida with mixed results. By no means a powerhouse, he has developed his craft and has had a pretty good year at East Lake for the Guardians. Outside the 11-strikeout game he had the other day, I’m blown away by the old-school 12-to-6 curve that he can throw. This is a super buy-low as he isn’t in anyone’s top 250 but has mid-level rotation potential.
Grant Hartwig, Mets
This is one of those players that’s a piece you want waiting in the wings in case of injury. Grant Hartwig has a blow-you-away slider but the dreaded fastball/slider mix that will keep him in the bullpen most likely. Hartwig went from single-A ball to AAA last year finishing the year with a 1.75 ERA. The upside for this sizzling summer prospect is he could be a strong setup man for Edwin Diaz once healthy.