CALL-UPS: April 25-May 1, 2017

Photo: Richard Bleier (LHP, BAL)

Contributing writers: Jeremy Deloney (JD), Rob Gordon (RG), Nick Richards (NR) and Matthew St-Germain (MSG)

May 1, 2017

Richard Bleier (LHP, BAL)
The Orioles recalled the 30-year-old from Triple-A and he is expected to pitch in long relief. Bleier has appeared in 246 games in the minors with exactly half of those appearances in the bullpen. He exhibits well above average control and an innate ability to keep the ball on the ground, but lacks swing-and-miss stuff. His fastball rarely touches 90 mph and mostly sits in the 84-88 mph range. Bleier complements that pitch with three secondary offerings—curveball, slider and change-up. His change-of-pace pitch is his best secondary and he can use it in any count. Because of his ability to command the plate, he doesn’t beat himself. He also rarely allows the long ball. Nevertheless, the lack of a strikeout pitch doesn’t project well in the big leagues. Acquired from the Orioles in February 2017 from the Yankees, Bleier is now in his fifth organization. He impressed in 22 games with New York in 2016, his only major league appearances. He owns a career 3.99 ERA, 1.4 Ctl, and 5.0 Dom in the minors. (JD)
2016 STATS: New York (AL) – 22 g, 0-0 2.05 ERA, 22 IP, 3.3 Cmd, 1.6 Ctl, 5.3 Dom, 0 HR, .233 oppBA
Scranton/W-B (AAA) – 12 g, 10 gs, 2-3 3.72 ERA, 58 IP, 2.3 Cmd, 1.7 Ctl, 3.9 Dom, 2 HR, .292 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever
RATING: 6D


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John Bormann (C, PIT)
In a rather surprising move, the Pirates dipped down all the way to High-A to promote the 24-year-old backstop. He will very likely serve in a reserve role for the short-term. Bormann was a 24th-round pick of Pittsburgh in 2015 and only has 22 AB (this season) above Low-A. In fact, he’s only hit .136/.231/.182 in those 22 AB with High-A Bradenton. There isn’t a lot to like about his bat, however, Bormann is a very capable defender with plentiful tools. He is considered to be an outstanding blocker and receiver with plus arm strength. Not only can he stop would-be basestealers, he is a terrific leader of the pitching staff. With limited bat speed and power, Bormann isn’t a threat from an offensive standpoint. He makes good contact and likes to go to the opposite field and would need to pull more in order to realize any pop. Chances are this will be a very quick visit to the majors and he’ll return to the minors in short order. If he can improve his offensive game—and this is a long shot—he could develop into an adequate big league catcher. In 297 career AB, Bormann has a line of .232/.282/.310. (JD)
2016 STATS: West Virginia (A-) – 177 AB, .243/.286/.339, 9 2b, 2 HR, 0.55 Eye, 0 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve catcher
POTENTIAL: Backup catcher
RATING: 6E

Chad Bell (LHP, DET)
The Tigers have experienced lackluster performance in their bullpen and they hope to get meaningful innings out of the 28-year-old after recalling him from Triple-A. Bell has never been in the majors before and he is expected to pitch in the middle innings. He was originally a 14th-round pick of the Rangers before moving to Detroit in May 2016. He has served in a variety of roles throughout his career and has generally been healthy with the exception of 2013 where he missed the entire season. While Bell has never been a top prospect, he’s been successful due to above average command of his 88-93 mph fastball. He also mixes in a terrific change-up that he throws with the same arm speed as his fastball. The lack of a dependable breaking ball is somewhat troubling if he expects to stick as a starter. Bell uses his good control to get ahead of hitters and does a nice job of pitching quickly and aggressively. He also keeps the ball in the ballpark and induces a high number of groundballs. For his career, Bell has a 3.58 ERA, 3.0 Ctl, and 7.4 Dom. (JD)
2016 STATS: Toledo (AAA) – 28 g, 10 gs, 10-4 3.70 ERA, 80.1 IP, 1.8 Cmd, 4.3 Ctl, 7.7 Dom, 4 HR, .259 oppBA
Round Rock (AAA) – 5 g, 2 gs, 1-0 1.50 ERA, 18 IP, 3.8 Cmd, 2.5 Ctl, 9.5 Dom, 0 HR, .194 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Long reliever
POTENTIAL: #5 starter / Middle reliever
RATING: 6C

April 30, 2017

Rafael Bautista (OF, WAS)
The 24-year-old is expected to receive a fair amount of starts in the Nationals outfield after they promoted him to the majors due to the DL placement of Adam Eaton. Bautista is a lean, wiry athlete with exceptional speed—his 55 SB in 2016 tied for the most in the minors. Not only is he fast, but he exhibits above average instincts on base. While focusing on contact, Bautista hits a high amount of groundballs which makes him more of a singles hitter. He can drive the ball to the gaps on occasion, but is far from a power threat. His career-high in HR is 5. The right-handed hitter gets on base at a moderate clip and more patience means more times on base where he can use his top-shelf speed. Bautista is a quality outfielder with plus range and advanced route-running. His arm is only average, but not a liability. For his career, he is a .294/.354/.365 hitter. (JD)
2016 STATS: Harrisburg (AA) – 542 AB, .282/.341/.341, 12 2b, 4 3b, 4 HR, 0.45 Eye, 55 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Will share time in CF with Michael Taylor
POTENTIAL: Starting OF
RATING: 7B

Nick Pivetta (RHP, PHI)
The Phillies will recall the 24-year-old from Triple-A to make a start on Sunday, April 30. The power pitcher has gotten off to a hot start to the 2017 campaign by allowing only two earned runs in his first three starts to go along with 24 strikeouts. Pivetta is an intriguing under-the-radar arm with a solid 91-95 mph fastball that features late life. He keeps the ball on the ground due to the downhill plane from his 6’5” frame. His best pitch is a hard curveball that picked up a few ticks of velocity in 2016. He uses it as a chase pitch, but can also drop it into the strike zone. His other secondaries include a middling slider and change-up. One positive trend has seen Pivetta’s strikeout rate increase in the upper minors. Many believe the key to his future development and potential role is based entirely the development of his change-up. Presently, he slightly slows his arm action on it, but it is gotten better the past few years. If the development stalls, it would be interesting to see how he fares as a high-leverage arm in the bullpen. Pivetta has a career 3.61 ERA, 3.1 Ctl, and 7.5 Dom. He was acquired from the Nationals in July 2015. (JD)
2016 STATS: Lehigh Valley (AAA) – 5 gs, 1-2 2.55 ERA, 24.2 IP, 2.7 Cmd, 3.7 Ctl, 9.9 Dom, 2 HR, .233 oppBA
Reading (AA) – 22 gs, 11-6 3.41 ERA, 124 IP, 2.7 Cmd, 3.0 Ctl, 8.1 Dom, 10 HR, .235 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Spot starter
POTENTIAL: #4 starter
RATING: 7C

Boog Powell (OF, SEA)
The 24-year-old has been rewarded with his first major league call-up and he is expected to provide depth to the injury-riddled outfield. Powell was suspended for 80 games for PED use starting in late June 2016. That suspension carried over to the first five games of 2017. He is an aggressive player who is now in his third organization. The 5-10 185 pound left-handed hitter was a 20th round pick in 2012 by Oakland and was later dealt to Tampa Bay for the 2015 campaign. Powell was then traded to Seattle in October 2015. He lacks the standout tools to profile as a starter, but can impact the game with his speed and nose for contact. He can be a tough out by working counts and finding pitches to drive. He has well below average power, as evidenced by his 9 career HR. A look at his career stat line (.299/.389/.380) suggests that he can hit for a high BA, but the upper minors haven’t been as kind. His bat speed is a bit slower than most and he employs more of a slap approach. Powell can benefit the defense with his ability to play CF. (JD)
2016 STATS: Tacoma (AAA) – 248 AB, .270/.326/.359, 9 2b, 3 HR, 0.52 Eye, 10 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve OF
POTENTIAL: Reserve OF
RATING: 6B

Danny Ortiz (OF, PIT)
After placing David Freese on the disabled list, the Pirates summoned Ortiz from Triple-A where he has played for each of the past four seasons. Originally drafted and developed by the Twins as a 4th round pick in 2008, he inked a minor league deal with Pittsbrugh in November 2015. The left-handed hitter offers above average bat speed, good power, and sound instincts for the game. His approach at the plate leaves lots to be desired. Ortiz likes to swing early in the count and can be easily fooled by spin. The lack of bat control has led to few walks and high strikeout totals. The left-handed hitter has a pretty swing that can really put a charge into the ball, however. Don’t expect much of a BA as he is a career .257/.300/.422 hitter in the minors. Defensively, Ortiz profiles best in a corner where his average arm and range are admirable. The future may not look incredibly bright, but he has some tools that could be cultivated in a reserve role going forward. He has hit a career-high 17 HR in each of the past two seasons. (JD)
2016 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) – 436 AB, .236/.275/.415, 19 2b, 17 HR, 0.27 Eye, 6 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve OF
POTENTIAL: Reserve OF
RATING: 6D
 

April 29, 2017

No call-ups today.

 

April 28, 2017

No call-ups today.

 

April 27, 2017

Ben Gamel (OF, SEA)
The Mariners called up 24-year-old Ben Gamel and immediately put him in the starting lineup for his first major league game this year. The lefty outfielder appeared in 33 games in 2016 for Seattle and the Yankees, getting nine hits in 48 ABs. He had a much more solid year in Triple-A for the Yankees organization where he hit over .300 and had six HRs and 19 SBs in 483 ABs. So far in 2017 down in Tacoma he has 17 hits and one HR along with a stolen base in 59 ABs, but significantly he has 12 walks to only 11 strikeouts. That batting eye is better than he usually puts up, though he is normally decent in that department. Gamel stands only 5'11" and weighs 185 pounds, and he isn't known for his home run power, but he does have nice doubles power. Instead he shows the ability to work counts and get on base, making him a potential leadoff type of hitter. Defensively he is solid and can cover all three OF spots, though his arm strength is not great. Gamel has enough average skills to put him in line for a starting outfield spot in the majors eventually. After putting up a .303/.365/.443 batting line in parts of three seasons at Triple-A, he is knocking at the door to show he can be better in the majors than what he showed in 2016. He gets an injury opportunity now, and perhaps more will follow if he gets on base and helps his team defensively. In eight minor league seasons, Gamel batted .288/.347/.403 in 2676 AB. (NR)
2016 STATS: Seattle (AL) – 40 AB, .200/.289/.325, 2 2B, 1 HR, 0.33 Eye, 0 SB
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) – 483 AB, .308/.365/.420, 26 2B, 6 HR, 0.46 Eye, 1 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Starting outfielder
POTENTIAL: Starting outfielder
RATING: 7C

Gift Ngoepe (SS, PIT)
Welcome to the big leagues, Gift Ngoepe! The first African-born player to make it to the majors, the South African Ngoepe (pronounced n-GO-pay) is a 5'8", 200-pound infielder who is known more for his defense than his offense. He is quite athletic and is known as one of the better defenders in the minors. Signed as a 19-year-old, the now 27-year-old Ngoepe has been slowly working his way up the minor league levels having first reached Triple-A in 2015. The problem is his bat, with a career average of .232, we cannot expect much at the major league level. Ngoepe has very little power, and his struggles to make contact (especially with breaking balls) mean that there are few home runs to follow. He does have the ability to run well, but his stolen base total has been falling every year since he had 22 back in 2012. He will be asked to fill in defensively, with not much expected from his bat, and maybe he can steal a base if he can get to first base. He may not be up long, but making it to the majors is an accomplishment. In 58 ABs so far in 2017 in Triple-A, he has 14 hits with one HR and no stolen bases, with six walks to 22 strikeouts. In nine minor league seasons, Ngoepe batted .232/.322/.347 in 2,390 AB. (NR)
2016 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) – 332 AB, .217/.289/.355, 20 2B, 8 HR, 0.24 Eye, 5 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Utility player
POTENTIAL: Utility player
RATING: 6C

 

April 26, 2017

Cody Bellinger (1B, LA)
With Joc Pederson going on the DL, the Dodgers needed a backup outfielder and they called up top prospect Cody Bellinger to help. The 21-year-old first baseman was having a terrific month in Triple A with 5 HRs and 7 stolen bases in 67 ABs. Baseball HQ's No. 24 ranked player in this offseason's Top 100 prospects, the 6'4", 210-pound Bellinger has put up good numbers for more than two years now. He has a quick LH stroke that lets him tap into his plus power, yet he also covers the plate well and draws walks in more than 10% of his plate appearances. His defense is also plus, and he moves well for a first baseman, and he can cover the outfield adequately. It is not certain that he stays up for good once Pederson returns, and his future is at first base, but he is an excellent prospect who should put up Gold Glove seasons with decent batting averages and lots of power. He can even steal a few bases. In five minor league seasons, Bellinger batted .271/.353/.501 in 1,332 AB. (NR)
2016 STATS: Tulsa (AA) – 399 AB, .263/.359/.484, 17 2B, 23 HR, 0.63 Eye, 8 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Starting outfielder
POTENTIAL: Starting 1B
RATING: 9D

Teoscar Hernandez (OF, HOU)
23-year-old Teoscar Hernandez has returned to the big leagues to take the roster slot of injured Jake Marisnick. The 6'2", 180-pound Hernandez played 41 games for the Astros last year, putting up sub-par numbers except for his solid .420 slugging percentage. With 77 home runs and 154 stolen bases in his minor league career, Hernandez promises both power and speed. Although his batting average can be low at times, his OBP is usually productive. Major league pitchers were able to get him to chase balls when he fell behind in the count, and he will have to continue working on his pitch recognition. Defensively, he can handle any outfield position needed, and his strong arm can make plays. Hernandez has put up typical numbers so far in 2017 in Fresno, with 4 HRs and 3 SBs in 56 ABs, while drawing 9 walks to only 12 strikeouts. If he can keep improving his batting eye, he could be a useful outfielder in the major leagues, if perhaps not a star player. Speed and power combined with on-base ability is desired, and his potential is as a solid regular major league outfielder. Although in his first game for the Astros he was involved in an on-field collision and had to be carted off the field, so any injury might curtail short-term playing time. In seven minor league seasons, Hernandez batted .269/.337/.459 in 2,362 AB. (NR)
2016 STATS: Houston (AL) – 100 AB, .230/.304/.420, 7 2B, 4 HR, 0.39 Eye, 0 SB
Fresno (AAA) – 144 AB, .313/.365/.500, 9 2B, 4 HR, 0.52 Eye, 5 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup outfielder
POTENTIAL: Starting outfielder
RATING: 8C

Paul Fry (LHP, BAL)
After starting the year in the Seattle organization, 24-year-old reliever Paul Fry finds himself about to make his major league debut with the Orioles, who traded for him in mid-April. The 190-pound lefty stands only 6'1", but he has some very good pitches. His sinking mid-90s mph fastball is plus and gets lots of ground balls. He has a hard slider and a deceptive change-up. Getting those ground balls means he rarely gives up home runs (five in his career, and only two of them came over the last four years). He strikes out lots of batters, and so far in 2017 he has faced 9 batters and struck out 4 of them while only walking one. It's the walks that he hasn't mastered yet, with a career 3.7 Ctl, but when you have a career Dom of 11.0, those walks can be overcome to a degree. If the balls on the ground get scooped up, he could have a decent WHIP to go with those Ks. In five minor league seasons his ERA is 2.85 with a 1.306 WHIP and a Cmd of 3.0 in 239.2 IP. (NR)
2016 STATS: Tacoma (AAA) – 48 g, 1 gs, 3-1, 2.78 ERA, 55.0 IP, 2.1 Cmd, 5.1 Ctl, 10.6 Dom, 1 HR, .238 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 6B

Chris Beck (RHP, CHW)
Needing another bullpen arm with Zach Putnam going on the 10-day DL, the White Sox called up 26-year-old Chris Beck. The right-hander stands 6'3" and weighs 225 pounds. The former starter appeared in 25 games for the White Sox last year where he struggled with his control and got hit hard. Moving to the pen didn't raise his Dom rate as much as was hoped, so his pitch-to-contact approach means a lot depends upon his defense. He has three pitches, none of them plus, yet all of them at least average. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s mph, his hard slider in the mid-80s and his change-up can be too firm. He will need to improve the walk rate to have any big league success. So far in 2017 down in Charlotte he has faced 33 batters in 8 IP, striking out 6 of them and walking 4. If he doesn't improve the walks quickly, he will be back down in Triple-A in a few days. In six minor league seasons his ERA is 3.52 with a 1.338 WHIP and a Cmd of 2.1 in 465.2 IP. (NR)
2016 STATS: Chicago (AL) – 25 g, 0 gs, 2-2, 6.39 ERA, 25.1 IP, 1.2 Cmd, 6.0 Ctl, 7.1 Dom, 3 HR, .301 oppBA
Charlotte (AAA) – 22 g, 7 gs, 5-4, 4.21 ERA, 66.1 IP, 2.0 Cmd, 3.4 Ctl, 6.8 Dom, 5 HR, .294 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: #4 starter
RATING: 7D

Lane Adams (OF, ATL)
Not getting much from their bench players, the Atlanta Braves designated for assignment Chase d'Arnaud and called up 27-year-old outfielder Lane Adams to fill in on their bench. Adams spent the last three years in Triple-A, other than a cup of coffee with the Royals back in September 2014. After almost 3,000 ABs in the minors, Adams might seem like a career minor leaguer, but he was putting up great numbers in Gwinnett this year (17 hits, 16 RBIs, 4 HRs and 6 SBs in 51 ABs), and Atlanta wants to see if some of that production can carry over to the big leagues. He has bounced around between various teams the last couple of years, but the 6'3", 220-pound outfielder has skills. He especially brings speed to the table, having stolen 44 bases in 2016 and 214 in his career. That goes along with his 72 career HRs. His career average of .270 is decent, and his career OBP of .344 is quite good. If he can use those skills to draw a walk and steal a base, he will prove his worth to his new club. In nine minor league seasons, Adams batted .270/.344/.413 in 2,991 AB. (NR)
2016 STATS: Trenton (AA) – 289 AB, .253/.343/.363, 12 2B, 6 HR, 0.43 Eye, 31 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve outfielder
POTENTIAL: Reserve outfielder
RATING: 6D

John Barbato (RHP, PIT)
A couple of weeks after acquiring him from the Yankees, the Pirates called up 24-year-old Johnny Barbato to take the place of Antonio Bastardo, who went on the 10-day DL. The 6'1", 235-pound right-hander appeared in 13 games for the Yankees in 2016, facing 57 batters while striking out 15 of them while walking 5. That nicely captured his typical pattern: Dominant strikeout numbers with only average walk rates. He likes to throw hard, and reaches 96 mph with his fastball that has late movement, but he has a tendency to pitch up in the strike zone. His hard curve shows good break. To really succeed, Barbato needs to reign in the walks, but if he does that, he has potential to become a solid setup reliever in the majors. He's only 24, he shows great strikeout skills and he has pitched parts of three seasons in Triple-A. He might not have much more to prove there other than improving his control. In seven minor league seasons his ERA is 3.41 with a 1.273 WHIP and a Cmd of 2.5 in 372.1 IP. (NR)
2016 STATS: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) – 31 g, 1 gs, 3-2, 2.61 ERA, 48.1 IP, 2.1 Cmd, 4.3 Ctl, 9.1 Dom, 3 HR, .213 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 7D

Ryan LaMarre (OF, OAK)
Having just traded for him, the Athletics called up 28-year-old Ryan LaMarre to fill some depth for the disabled Rajai Davis. The 6'1", 210-pound LaMarre appeared briefly with the Red Sox last year, but otherwise the outfielder has spent the last few years stuck at Triple-A while bouncing from team to team. He has had his share of injuries over the years, and that helped slow down his progress in the minors. LaMarre brings some speed, a little power and a solid OBP to his teams. Over the eight seasons he has spent in the minors he has 160 SBs, and he has reached (barely) double-digit home runs in a couple of seasons. Defensively he can cover the outfield well and he has a good arm. He may be up only briefly again, but he can serve as a defensive replacement and maybe draw a walk and steal a base if given a chance. In eight minor league seasons, LaMarre batted .267/.344/.380 in 2,371 AB. (NR)
2016 STATS: Pawtucket (AAA) – 317 AB, .303/.369/.445, 15 2B, 10 HR, 0.35 Eye, 17 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve outfielder
POTENTIAL: Reserve outfielder
RATING: 6D

 

April 25, 2017

Christian Arroyo (SS/3B, SF)
The Giants have recalled the 21-year-old from Triple-A and initial reports indicate he’ll take over the starting 3B job. Arroyo is enjoying a blistering start to the season, batting .446/.478/.692 with 3 HR in his first 65 AB in Triple-A. While he was drafted as a shortstop, he has played all over the diamond the past few seasons, including stints at 2B, 3B and the outfield corners. With a strong feel for contact and mature bat control, Arroyo has the opportunity to hit for a high BA while growing into fringe-average power. The right-handed hitter owns a simple swing and focuses on using the entire field and slashing doubles to the gaps. His hand-eye coordination is very advanced for his age. Though not a burner who steals many bases, Arroyo is a smart baserunner who reads pitchers and knows when to take the extra base. Defensively, he is more about instincts than pure talent, though he exhibits an extremely strong arm that will be an asset at 3B. There may be growing pains given his relative inexperience at 3B, but the future looks bright. He has a career line of .300/.343/.435 with a high of 9 HR in 2015. (JD)
2016 STATS: Richmond (AA) – 474 AB, .274/.316/.373, 36 2B, 3 HR, 0.40 Eye, 1 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 3B
POTENTIAL: Starting INF
RATING: 8C

Dovydas Neverauskas (RHP, PIT)
When the 24-year-old gets into a game, he’ll be the first player born and raised in Lithuania to play in a major league game. Neverauskas was a rather ordinary pitching prospect when he signed in 2009 and didn’t show much until he was moved to the bullpen in 2015. At that point, he let loose his 92-98 mph fastball and has seen his stock rise. He was selected for the 2016 Futures Game and showcased his heater in an inning of work. Neverauskas mixes in a slider and cutter, but he mostly works with his fastball. He lives in the lower half of the strike zone and induces a high number of groundballs. While he has the velocity to miss bats, he is more of a pitch-to-contact reliever. For Neverauskas to have a sustainable career, he needs to exhibit better command early in the count and throw more strikes. Mature big league hitters could sit on his fastball and hit him hard. For his minor league career, he owns a 4.12 ERA, 3.8 Ctl and 6.8 Dom. (JD)
2016 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) – 25 g, 3-4 3.60 ERA, 30 IP, 2.2 Cmd, 3.3 Ctl, 7.2 Dom, 1 HR, .308 oppBA
Altoona (AA) – 22 g, 1-0 2.57 ERA, 28 IP, 3.0 Cmd, 3.5 Ctl, 10.3 Dom, 0 HR, .129 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 7C

 

Previous Week

 

PLAYER POTENTIAL RATING

Scale of (1-10) representing a player’s upside potential

10 - Hall of Fame-type player
9 - Elite player
8 - Solid regular
7 - Average regular
6 - Platoon player
5 - Major League reserve player
4 - Top minor league player
3 - Average minor league player
2 - Minor league reserve player
1 - Minor league roster filler

 

PROBABILITY RATING

Scale of (A-E) representing the player’s realistic chances of achieving their potential

A - 90% probability of reaching potential
B - 70% probability of reaching potential
C - 50% probability of reaching potential
D - 30% probability of reaching potential
E - 10% probability of reaching potential
 

 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.