Players from the World Team (left to right) Orioles E Rodriguez, Twins Sano, Rays Romero, White Sox Rienzo and the Reds Contreras are photographed by Royals Ventura. (Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Taylor, the Prospect Octopus, and I got in a bit of a scuffle over the weekend. We were hanging out, talking about food. I admitted that I don’t like seafood, which totally freaked him out. So, tensions were higher than usual when the talk turned to prospects. He admitted that he thinks writing about prospects is silly because lots of these guys will never actualize. I said that fans enjoy learning about prospects and enjoy the hope they bring. The argument got more intense and now, here I am covered in ink, about to tell you about the eight prospects closest to making their MLB debut. Compromise is important in life.
We’re discussing prospects today, not Minor Leaguers. I apologize to Andrew Albers, who I feel is very close to an MLB debut, but not a prospect in our eyes. Warning! All stats as of Saturday, July 13.
1. Josmil Pinto
Prior to this season, Pinto wasn’t much of a prospect in my eyes. He had posted a .844 OPS in 2012, but that was by far his best performance since Rookie ball. However, he has backed up that 2012 performance with an even more impressive 2013 performance. His .320/.424/.514 triple slash proves that he can hang in AA. Often times, the Twins will move players from AA to the Majors, especially during September call-ups. Pinto is on the 40-man roster, so it is pretty easy to make that move. I expect him to get a promotion this September and potentially replace Ryan Doumit as the backup catcher/DH next season or the following season.
2. Miguel Sano
Miguel Sano is currently in New York for the Future’s Game. Apparently his batting practice was a sight to see. Sano is hitting just over .200 since his AA promotion, but he is also slugging over .500. He’s in an adjustment period, and that is very normal. This 28 game stretch doesn’t change much. I’d still expect Sano to finish the season in AA and then compete for a job with the Twins in Spring Training 2014. He might be on the Oswaldo Arcia path, where he dominates AAA for a few weeks and forces an early 2014 promotion to Minnesota.
3. Trevor May
In his second tour of AA, Trevor May has cut down his walk rate while maintaining his strikeout rate. The figures aren’t massive, but they mark an improvement. May is also on the 40-man roster, so a September call-up isn’t out of the question. I’m not sure May is quite ready for MLB hitting, so if he does get a promotion, I’d bet he works out of the bullpen. I’m predicting the Twins will not throw him into that fire, instead promoting him to AAA next season. He’ll make his MLB debut around June of 2014.
4. Alex Meyer
Going into the season, I would have had Meyer’s ETA as sooner than May’s. In fact, about a month ago, I would have still held that belief. However, Meyer hasn’t pitched since June 1, and his return is still up in the air. My prediction for Meyer hinges on whether or not he needs surgery to repair whatever is ailing his shoulder. His June MRI was clean, so I choose to remain optimistic. That being said, missing this time sets his timetable back a bit. He’ll need to prove health before he gets moved to AAA. I don’t see that happening this season, so he’ll join May in Rochester next season. I imagine his MLB debut will come shortly after May’s.
5. A.J. Achter
Achter seemed to be primed for his MLB debut just a couple weeks ago. He had mastered AA and earned a AAA call-up. The 6′ 5″ right-hander was dominant as a reliever in AA, but has scuffled a bit since his Rochester promotion. He got jacked in his first appearance, giving up four earned runs in 1.1 innings. He pitched a clean inning on Friday night and should right his ship quickly. Achter isn’t on the 40-man roster and the Twins do not currently need a righty in the bullpen. Plus, Michael Tonkin is clearly ahead in the pecking order. Unless the Twins trade two right-handed bullpen arms this season, I don’t see Achter getting the call until mid-2014.
6. Byron Buxton
This one requires a bit of a leap, but Buxton is the type of player that you can take leaps for. I see Buxton in a Twins’ uniform in September of 2014. Buxton hasn’t been superhuman with Fort Myers, posting a .300/.354/.417 triple slash, compared to his .341/.431/.559 at Cedar Rapids. Ok, that’s true, but my goodness that high A triple slash at age 19 is crazy impressive. Buxton should start next season with New Britain. He’ll dominate because he’s dominant and he’ll force his way to Minnesota and his debut will be the most exciting moment in recent Twins’ history.
We’ve reached the 2015 debut portion of our show. Baxendale looked like he might be a fast riser who could reach Minnesota by next season. I’m not so sure. He doesn’t miss enough bats right now, at least for my liking. He owned A ball, but more advanced AA hitters can put his stuff in play. Since he doesn’t get strikeouts, he is prone to more hits and thus, more runs. I’m sure this is something he can’t iron out, as he has great command of his pitches. However, it might take more time than initially thought and I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends almost all of 2014 split between New Britain and Rochester. He would still be making his MLB debut at 24 and could still be a big part of the future at the back of the rotation.
Rosario was promoted with Sano just about a month ago. In some ways, he’s been a better hitter than Sano, since their joint AA promotion. However, many reports state that Rosario is not an MLB level second baseman and he might not be a AA level second baseman. The only way Rosario continues to move with Sano is if the Twins decide to move him back to an outfield position. I don’t see this happening, as the Twins would love to have a good hitting second baseman for the next decade. I think the Twins will play it cool with Rosario and give him a lot more time in the Minors to work on his defense. How his defense improves will dictate how quickly he reaches the Majors. I think it will take time, but he’ll be on the Opening Day roster in 2015.
That’s all we have for this week. If we are right and these players debut in that order, then we will get a cookie. Next week, we’ll return with eight more prospects to analyze. Have a nice week, everyone.
What do you think of our list? Who did we leave out? Please respond in the comments below.