CALL-UPS: August 4-10, 2015

Photo: Jamie Romak (3B, ARI)

Contributing writers: Jeremy Deloney (JD), Chris Mallonee (CM), Nick Richards (NR) and Matthew St-Germain (MSG).

August 10, 2015

No call-ups today.

 

August 9, 2015

Keith Hessler (LHP, ARI)
The Diamondbacks dealt LHP Oliver Perez to the Astros and summoned the 26-year-old Hessler from Triple-A. He was progressing very slowly for the first four seasons of his pro career, starting 2015 in High-A where he spent all of 2014. After 10 scoreless appearances, he was moved to Double-A where he continued his success. At 6’4”, he has a tall, durable frame and gets good extension in his delivery. However, he doesn’t throw very hard—86-91 mph. Hessler is at his best when he gets groundballs, which mostly occur when his sinker is working well. He’ll use a slow curveball as his strikeout offering, but it isn’t a plus pitch and he likely won’t post high strikeout rates in the majors. Hessler also uses a cutter and change-up in his arsenal. He has morphed from a flyball guy to a groundball pitcher in recent years, and his improved command and control have led him to the majors. All in all, Hessler is a low-ceiling prospect who could evolve into a situational reliever. He has a career 4.05 ERA, 3.7 Ctl and 9.4 Dom, mostly out of the bullpen. (JD)
2015 STATS: Reno (AAA) – 13 g, 0-1 5.27 ERA, 13.2 IP, 2.5 Cmd, 2.6 Ctl, 6.6 Dom, 3 HR, .191 oppBA
Mobile (AA) – 24 g, 3-1 0.66 ERA, 27.1 IP, 6.2 Cmd, 1.6 Ctl, 10.2 Dom, 1 HR, .193 oppBA
Visalia (A+) – 10 g, 1-0 0.00 ERA, 14.2 IP, 10.0 Cmd, 1.2 Ctl, 12.3 Dom, 0 HR, .208 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Situational reliever
RATING: 6D

Shawn Armstrong (RHP, CLE)
After obliterating the Triple-A International League as a closer—14.1 Dom—the Indians promoted the 24-year-old to the big leagues for the first time. Armstrong is a powerful reliever with durability and stamina. His delivery is best suited for the bullpen where he’s spent his entire career. Armstrong throws across his body, though he adds a hint of deception, allowing his fastball/slider combination to play up. He can fire his 90-96 mph fastball into the strike zone and has the live arm to add late sink. Armstrong also adds in a hard slider that he uses as a chase pitch. Because of his velocity, wipeout slider and deception, he’s posted a very high strikeout rate in 2015. He’s never truly mastered command and control, though his strike-throwing ability has improved the past two seasons. He has started to throw his cutter more frequently and his change-up remains a little-used option at the back-end of the bullpen. This is an underrated relief pitching prospect and he could grow into a more prominent role if he can throw more consistent strikes. Armstrong has a career 2.40 ERA, 4.4 Ctl, and 11.7 Dom. (JD)
2015 STATS: Columbus (AAA) – 40 g, 1-2 2.25 ERA, 14 sv, 44.0 IP, 3.1 Cmd, 4.5 Ctl, 14.1 Dom, 0 HR, .208 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever
RATING: 7D

Jamie Romak (3B, ARI)
The Diamondbacks recalled the 29-year-old, right-handed hitter from Triple-A to replace the traded Cliff Pennington on the roster. Romak has played mostly 3B, with some 2B play sprinkled in, and he could play all over the diamond. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft by the Braves and didn’t make the majors until he earned 21 ABs with the Dodgers in 2014. Now in his sixth organization, Romak hopes to bring some offensive juice to the lineup. He is all about the bat as he’s hit 30+ doubles and 20+ HR in each of the past three Triple-A seasons. He has good size and strength—6’2” 220 pounds—and he swings a vicious bat. He draws walks, but will strike out a ton as he is too passive at the plate. Romak finds himself in two-strike counts a lot and could stand to swing earlier in the count. Other than his punch, he doesn’t have many secondary skills. While he can play a variety of positions with a strong arm, he has little agility or quickness. For his career, Romak is a .255/.344/.463 hitter with a high of 25 HRs in 2008. (JD)
2015 STATS: Reno (AAA) – 395 AB, .289/.373/.554, 33 2b, 22 HR, 0.52 Eye, 6 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve infielder (3B, 2B, 1B)
POTENTIAL: Reserve infielder
RATING: 5D

 

August 8, 2015

A.J. Achter (RHP, MIN)
Drafted in a round that doesn’t exist anymore (46th, 2010), the 6’5”, 205-pound Achter defied the odds to make it to the bigs last season, and has continued to put up dominant numbers—he's the first Twin selected to back-to-back International League All-Star Games—to get a second call this year. Originally a starter in college, Achter has primarily relieved since 2012, but still carries a three-pitch mix. His four-seam fastball tops out at 93 and works around 88-91, with good plane due to his height and exhibits heavy, late life. He also uses a 80-mph slider—with improved bite from a grip Mike Pelfrey (RHP, MIN) showed him—as well as an average change at 84 mph. There have been reports that he’s been tinkering with a cutter and a curve, so he’s got a wide arsenal. None of Achter’s pitches grades out as plus, but he has excellent command and control of them, works well in and out of the zone, attacks hitters, and is difficult against left-handed batters (.143/.203/.238 in 2015). Now 26 years old, he finds himself on a Twins roster with a lot of bullpen questions and fighting to stay in the race for the second AL Wild Card slot. Though Achter might be eased into game situations, if he maintains his effectiveness in the majors, he could find himself shortly in high-leverage situations, where he has spent all of his time for Triple-A Rochester as one of the best relievers in the International League. Achter’s career minor league numbers: 365.0 IP, 2.91 ERA, 31 Sv, 9.4 Dom, 3.1 Cmd, 34 HR, .208 oppBA, 1.093 WHIP. (MSG)
STATS: 2015 Rochester (AAA) — 40 g, 4-2, 2.82 ERA, 44.2 IP, 14 Sv, 2.4 Ctl, 9.1 Dom, 3.8 Ctl, 5 HR, .167 oppBA, 0.851 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle Reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup Reliever
RATING: 7D

Kyle Barraclough (RHP, MIA)
Two weeks removed from the trade that sent him to the Marlins in exchange for Steve Cishek (RHP, STL), the 6’3”, 225-pound Barraclough (pronounced “Bearclaw”) has been called up from Double-A Jacksonville. Originally drafted in 2012 (7th round), he has moved quickly due to an overpowering arsenal, but it comes with significant control and injury concerns. Barraclough works with a plus mid-90s fastball—that touches 98—alongside a tumbling changeup, both out pitches for the 25-year-old. He also mixes in a promising slider that's still raw. It’s Barraclough's almost total lack of control (5.1 career) of what he’s throwing—plus a shoulder injury that derailed most of 2013—that limit his ultimate upside. Still, he's hard to square up, having only given up two HRs total in 140.2 IP, and none since his debut in the NY/Penn league in 2012. The Marlins have had past success with players of Barraclough’s type, such as A.J. Ramos (RHP, MIA), Carter Capps (RHP, MIA) and the aforementioned Cishek. All had significant control problems that the Marlins were able to iron out. They’re clearly banking on that with Barraclough, though he still needs a lot more work as his 6.2 Ctl rate in 2015 attests to. His time in the majors likely will be short, as he’s an emergency replacement with Jose Urena (RHP, MIA) and Andre Rienzo (RHP, MIA) hitting the DL. Barraclough’s career minor league line: 140.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 27 Sv, 11.3 Dom, 2.2 Cmd, 2 HR, .215 oppBA, 1.351 WHIP. (MSG)
STATS: 2015 Jacksonville (AA) — 4 g, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, 2 Sv, 2.2 Ctl, 20.2 Dom, 9.0 Cmd, 0 HR, .077 oppBA, 0.500 WHIP
2015 Springfield (AA) — 23 g, 2-0, 3.28 ERA, 24.2 IP, 8 Sv, 7.3 Ctl, 10.2 Dom, 1.4 Cmd, 0 HR, .211 oppBA, 1.581 WHIP
2015 Palm Beach (A+) — 11 g, 1-0, 0.60 ERA, 15.0 IP, 4 Sv, 5.4 Ctl, 13.8 Dom, 2.6 Cmd, 0 HR, 167 oppBA, 1.200 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle Reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup Reliever
RATING: 7E

 

August 7, 2015

Luke Jackson (RHP, TEX)
After moving to the bullpen in May of this year, 23-year-old former starter Luke Jackson saw his strikeouts rise, his walks drop, and now he has been called up to the major leagues for the first time. The 6'2", 205-pound right-hander always has been able to do two things: strike guys out and walk too many of the rest. In the bullpen, however, he can let his 97-mph fastball fly without relying as much on his average slider, curve or change-up. So the pitcher who dominated Double-A last year before blowing up at Triple-A has now found better success as a reliever at that same level, holding batters to a .237 BA. His aggressive approach should play up in the bullpen. If he succeeds, he has enough in his arsenal to make starting again at least possible. He has his breaking pitches that erratic control made ineffective, but if he learns to harness that control better, he has the ability to log innings. He can be versatile to his team that way, and now he gets to prove himself against major leaguers. In five minor league seasons, his ERA is 4.26 with a 1.408 WHIP and a Cmd of 2.2 in 515.2 IP. (NR)
2015 STATS: Round Rock (AAA) – 33g, 5gs, 2-2, 4.05 ERA, 60.0 IP, 4.5 Ctl, 2.4 Cmd, 10.6 Dom, 3 HR, .237 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle relief
POTENTIAL: #2 Starter
RATING: 8C

Alex Dickerson (OF, SD)
With Will Venable going on maternity leave, the Padres called up Alex Dickerson to make his major league debut. The 25-year-old outfielder was steadily climbing the minor league ladder (.288/.337/.494 at Double-A in 2013) when he suffered a broken ankle last year in spring training that limited him to 161 ABs. They were good ABs, and he continued this year putting up terrific numbers in Triple-A. The 6'3", 230-pound Dickerson has a smooth LH stroke, and solid power (though he can become aggressive in chasing that power). At his best, he uses the whole field and gets some power while putting up a good average. Defensively, he can play a decent RF with a good arm. He has very little speed, so it's his moderate power, coupled with a good OBP, that will be the value he can add to a team. In five minor league seasons, Dickerson has produced a batting line of .300/.359/.485 in 1622 AB. (NR)
2015 STATS: El Paso (AAA) – 372 AB, .306/.375/.508, 29 2B, 10 HR, 0.49 Eye, 3 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve OF
POTENTIAL: Starting OF
RATING: 8D

 

August 6, 2015

No call-ups today.

 

August 5, 2015

Luis Severino (RHP, NYY)
HQ’s #1 Yankees Prospect—and our #11 overall prospect in the game—has been called up to start Wednesday’s home game against the Red Sox. Severino exploded through three levels last season with an advanced repertoire for the then 6’0”, 195-pound 20-year-old: A plus-plus (70) fastball that operates mid-90s and hits 99, a plus (60) changeup in the high-80s with lots of late fade, and an average slider in the mid-80s that has lagged behind his other two pitches and has some scouts predicting a future bullpen role. Severino has plus control of his pitches, but has a little trouble hitting the spots he wants. However, more so than the lack of a reliable breaking ball dooming him to the bullpen is his delivery: an almost all-upper body approach with heavy arm action. Many evaluators agree that without some change in how he uses his legs, he’ll either be a tantalizing, yet oft-injured starter who is unable to go deep into games, or a blow out closer. Brent Hershey confirms much of this in his first-hand report on Severino from this May. While the delivery was still concerning, it looked like his slider had progressed some. It’s clear he’s going to get every opportunity to start, and the numbers so far suggest he’ll be highly successful (8 HRs and 323 Ks in 320.2 IP). The bigger question is durability. Severino’s career minor league numbers: 320.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 9.1 Dom, 4.0 Cmd, 8 HR, .212 oppBA, 1.026 WHIP. (MSG)
STATS: 2015 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) — 11 g, 7-0, 1.91 ERA, 61.1 IP, 2.5 Ctl, 7.3 Dom, 2.9 Cmd, 0 HR, .184 oppBA, 0.929 WHIP
2015 Trenton (AA) — 8 g, 2-2, 3.32 ERA, 2.4 Ctl, 11.4 Dom, 4.8 Cmd, 2 HR, .227 oppBA, 1.105 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Starting Pitcher
POTENTIAL: #3 Starter/Closer
RATING: 9C

Ryan Strausborger (CF, TEX)
A senior signee out of Indiana State (2010, 16th round), Strausborger was a 6’0”, 180-pound, lean, fast-twitch athlete with premium speed, a solid arm and excellent range in the outfield. His knock was selling out for power, dropping his shoulder and chasing balls out of the zone. Most all of this still applies today, though Strausborger has improved his approach at the plate, but still needs to focus on leveling his swing and using his speed to get on base. He should get a shot in the majors because he’s an effective defender who can not only play all three OF positions, but has also worked on the right side of the infield, though he’s still raw there. On repeat of Triple-A Round Rock this year at age 27, he’s seen an uptick in most of his offensive stats (21 2B, 10 HR, 27 SB) and has continued to hit left-handers at a high clip (.312/.360/.504 in 125 AB). With Leonys Martin (CF, TEX) optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, Strausborger has been called up to provide backup help in the OF. He can start against lefties and provide a late-innings defensive replacement or pinch run. Strausborger’s career minor league numbers: 2,319 AB, .256/.322/.390, 112 2b, 42 HR, 0.40 Eye, 154 SB. (MSG)
STATS: 2015 Round Rock (AAA) — 345 AB, .278/.329/.438, 21 2b, 2 3b, 10 HR, 0.36 Eye, 27 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup OF
POTENTIAL: Backup OF
RATING: 6C

 

August 4, 2015

Henry Owens (LHP, BOS)
As Rick Porcello goes on the DL, the Red Sox called up Henry Owens to make his major league debut. The 6'6", 220-pound lefty was Boston's #1 prospect for 2015 and was their #1 pick in 2011 out of high school. Now only 23, Owens is a tall and lanky strikeout artist who was the Eastern League pitcher of the year in 2014 after leading the league in Ks. Owens has a plus fastball that reaches 94 mph, and a plus change-up that sits in the low-80s. Reports had him working on his average curve early this year, and the results have been encouraging, for developing that curve gives him three weapons. Despite some command issues (a career 4.0 Ctl), his WHIP is typically low as he gets ground balls and strikeouts that wipe out base runners before they can score. But as noted, he has improved in recent weeks, with a 2.2 Ctl and 8.1 Dom his last 9 starts. If he can keep the walks down, the rest of his skills should help him reach his ceiling as a solid #3 SP. In four minor-league seasons his ERA is 3.30, with a 1.195 WHIP,  and a Cmd of 2.5 in 518 IP. (NR)
2015 STATS: Pawtucket (AAA) – 21g, 21gs, 3-8, 3.16 ERA, 122.1 IP, 4.1 Ctl, 1.8 Cmd, 7.6 Dom, 7 HR, .193 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: #5 Starter
POTENTIAL: #3 Starter
RATING: 8A

Jon Gray (RHP, COL)
Colorado's #1 prospect, Jon Gray has been called up to make his major league debut. The 23-year-old right-hander has spent parts of three seasons in the minors after being the 3rd overall pick of the 2013 draft. The 6'4", 235-pound Gray threw a triple-digit plus plus fastball coming out of college, though that has slowed to the 95-97 mph range in the pros. Coupled with a true swing-and-miss slider with good late break, along with an average change-up, when he is on he can be very hard to hit. Yet Gray has had some struggles both last year and this year, though recently he has been much stronger (20 strikeouts to only 6 walks in his last three starts). It is true that the Pacific Coast League and Albuquerque are quite hard places to pitch, but so is Coors Field. Gray has shown a tendency when getting tired to lose his release point, which affects his command. Yet his potential is real with the body type and skill to become a true #1 starter in the majors in time. In three minor-league seasons his ERA is 3.82 with a 1.272 WHIP and a Cmd of 3.0 in 276 IP. (NR)
2015 STATS: Albuquerque (AAA) – 21g, 20gs, 6-6, 4.33 ERA, 114.1 IP, 3.2 Ctl, 2.7 Cmd, 8.7 Dom, 9 HR, .281 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: #5 Starter
POTENTIAL: #1 Starter
RATING: 9C

Richie Shaffer (3B, TAM)
The former 2012 1st-round pick for the Rays (and #14 in the 2015 TAM organization list), Richie Shaffer was struggling last year until he revamped his batting approach. Since then he has made a jump forward in results, repeating Double-A to much stronger effect, and then moving to Triple-A where he put up even better numbers. The 24-year-old has plus-plus power to all fields, and exceptional bat speed, but will likely struggle a bit with BA. The 6'3", 218-pound batter is getting on base this year, and the power is very evident with 23 HRs and 21 doubles so far. Defensively he lacks agility and quickness, and will likely move to 1B permanently at some point. If his jump in OBP (.308 in High-A, .318 in Double-A, .361 this year) is sustained, his power could be an asset at 1B without the BA being too much of a drag. He will need to cut down on the strikeouts (24% strikeout rate this year) to reach that full potential. In four minor-league seasons Shaffer has produced a batting line of .251/.334/.454 in 1347 AB. (NR)
2015 STATS: Durham (AAA) – 185 AB, .265/.359/.595, 11 2B, 16 HR, 0.44 Eye, 1 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 1B
POTENTIAL: Starting 3B/1B
RATING: 8D

Trayce Thompson (OF, CHW)
Drafted out of high school by the White Sox in the 2nd round in 2009, the 24-year-old Thompson has methodically made his way up the minor league ladder and is now making his major league debut. The 6'3", 210-pound Thompson is tall and athletic (from a family of athletes) and brings a nice combination of speed and power to his game. With a .181 ISO at Triple-A this year, and well over .200 in previous seasons, he should be able to provide good power numbers. But he also has 25 and 20 SBs the previous two seasons. Defensively he can play any OF spot with average arm strength. His BA is likely to be low since he is still learning to read spin, so the strikeouts can be a problem. But he does possess double-digit walk rates as pitchers respect the power, and that helps keep his on base percentage from dipping below .300. He will serve as a fourth outfielder for now, but he has the potential to be a starting outfielder at the major league level as long as he works to fix the holes in his swing and uses his power and speed to best advantage. In seven minor-league seasons Thompson has produced a batting line of .241/.319/.429 in 2765 AB. (NR)
2015 STATS: Charlotte (AAA) – 388 AB, .260/.304/.441, 23 2B, 13 HR, 0.29 Eye, 11 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Fourth OF
POTENTIAL: Starting OF
RATING: 8E

Brian Ellington (RHP, MIA)
With Carter Capps going on the DL, the Marlins called up Brian Ellington to make his major league debut out of their bullpen. The 24-year-old righty made one appearance at Triple-A before this call-up. At Double-A he was his usual dominating strikeout self, reaching almost a 10.0 Dom. His walk rate was almost half his career rate, allowing him to take a step forward. The 6'4", 195-pound Ellington throws hard, reaching 97 mph on his fastball along with a solid slider. Yet he can get into periods where he is throwing instead of pitching, and that walk rate (career 4.7 Ctl) bears watching. The strikeouts will play in the big league bullpen, and he is hard on LHB, so he can be useful. For now he will take a slot that opened due to injury, and he will keep trying to improve that walk rate to reach his potential. In four minor-league seasons his ERA is 3.62 with a 1.350 WHIP and a Cmd of 2.0 in 186.2 IP. (NR)
2015 STATS: Jacksonville (AA) – 25g, 0gs, 4-1, 2.51 ERA, 43.0 IP, 2.7 Ctl, 3.6 Cmd, 9.8 Dom, 0 HR, .187 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 6C

Kelby Tomlinson (2B/SS, SF)
The 25-year-old Tomlinson has been described as the grinder type, and now he gets to make his major league debut as Joe Panik goes on the DL. The 6'3", 180-pound Tomlinson has a lean, athletic body. He plays a good defense at 2B, but his defense at SS is merely adequate. He profiles as a classic utility player, one who can make contact, get on base and use speed to steal bases (49 SBs in 2014). He lacks power, with only 20 HRs in five seasons in the minors. But for what he does, he can be useful to a major league team. In five minor-league seasons Tomlinson has put up a batting line of .273/.345/.347 for 1679 AB. (NR)
2015 STATS: Sacramento (AAA) – 136 AB, .316/.354/.382, 1 2B, 2 HR, 0.32 Eye, 5 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup 2B
POTENTIAL: Utility infielder
RATING: 5C

 

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