CALL-UPS: April 23-29, 2019

Luis Ortiz (RHP, BAL)

The players covered in this column are only those who have not exceeded 50 IP / 130 AB in their MLB career, or exceeded 45 non-September days on the MLB roster, and who have not already been written up earlier in 2019. Find previous Call-up profiles on News tab of the player's PlayerLink page. 

Contributing writers: Chris Blessing, Rob Gordon, Nick Richards, Matthew St-Germain, and Andy Smith.

 

April 29, 2019

Luis Ortiz (RHP, BAL)
Why is conditioning important in baseball? Take the now 22-year-old Ortiz’s profile as a perfect example to prove why poor conditioning can turn a former first-rounder with front-of-the-rotation potential into a guy who will be lucky to make it now as a backend one. Though listed at 6’3”, 230 pounds, Ortiz is considerably heavier, and that heft frequently intersects with his many maladies, including last season’s hamstring injury that ended his season. Ortiz’s fastball still flashes plus, but operates south of that due to poor control, which, again, is due to poor conditioning leading to his continual inability to repeat his delivery. His slider can sit above-average and he has made strides on his changeup, a pitch that has long lagged behind, but his difficulty in commanding the repertoire plays the whole package down. Should he move to the pen, the stuff plays up, and his lack of durability is heavily pointing the arrow in that direction. Ortiz has been absolutely dreadful in the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk so far in 2019, with 20 H, 10 ER, 3 HR and a 11/8 BB/K over 15.1 IP. Baltimore needed some fresh arms, so Ortiz is likely up as bullpen depth.
2018 STATS: Baltimore (AL) — 2 g, 0-1, 15.43 ERA, 2.1 IP, 11.6 Ctl, 0.0 Dom, 0.0 Cmd, 1 HR, 2.20 WHIP
Norfolk (AAA) — 6 g, 2-1, 3.69 ERA, 31.2 IP, 2.3 Ctl, 6.0 Dom, 2.6 Cmd, 4 HR, 1.33 WHIP
Biloxi (AA) — 16 g, 3-4, 3.71 ERA, 68.0 IP, 2 Sv, 2.4 Ctl, 8.6 Dom, 3.6 Cmd, 7 HR, 1.19 WHIP
OTHER REPORTS: No. 7 on Baltimore Organizational Report
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever/Long reliever
POTENTIAL: #4 starter
RATING: 7B


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Thyago Vieira (RHP, CHW)
Blessed with effortless 100-mph heat, Vieira has seen his stock drop due to continued command and confidence issues. 6’2” and 210 pounds, the native Brazilian came over from the Mariners last offseason and has yet to have the breakthrough many scouts thought would have already happened by now. Everything starts with the plus-plus fastball for Vieira, sitting 97-98 and frequently touching 100. The pitch has good natural sink and it’s difficult for hitters to square up. The slider has also improved and it looks as if he’s added a cutter since his Seattle days, but the outcomes haven’t changed much. While the 25-year-old Vieira can still rack up double-digit Dom rates, his control rate last year for Triple-A Charlotte was 5.3 and he was summarily nailed upon his promotion to the parent club, where the Dom dropped to 7.6 but the control stayed fairly constant at 4.6 over 17.2 IP. Chicago brought in former White Sox standout Jose Contreras to mentor the young Vieira, and the Cuban would head to Vieira’s native Brazil to work with him in the offseason in preparation for the Pan Am Games, and while subjectively both coach and tutor have said the right things, Vieira has continued to struggle here in 2019, though the control has improved to 3.0, albeit over a minuscule 9.0 IP. There’s back of the bullpen upside here, but Vieira needs to make strides with his control to get there.
2018 STATS: Chicago (AL) — 16 g, 1-1, 7.13 ERA, 17.2 IP, 1 Sv, 4.6 Ctl, 7.6 Dom, 1.7 Cmd, 4 HR, 1.70 WHIP
Charlotte (AAA) — 36 g, 0-4, 5.05 ERA, 41.0 IP, 6 Sv, 5.3 Ctl, 11.0 Dom, 2.1 Cmd, 2 HR, 1.56 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 7D

 

April 28, 2019

No call-ups.

 

April 27, 2019

Justus Sheffield (LHP, SEA)
The undersized (5'10") lefty came to the Mariners as part of the November 2018 James Paxton trade with the Yankees. He has two fairly plus pitches in his SL and CU, but the biggest knock has been on his ability to control his two-seam FB. For Sheffield's minor league career his Ctl is 3.5, and that will need to drop at least half a point in order for him to realize his ceiling of a No. 2 starter. His other career minor league numbers (spanning 506 IP) include a 3.11 ERA, 9.2 Dom, 2.6 Cmd and 1.30 WHIP. All but 10 of his 107 minor league appearances have been as a starter, but he looks to work in long relief for the Mariners upon his initial call-up. If he can keep the walks down then he may be able to push his way into the rotation by mid-summer. However, the early going in Triple-A Tacoma to start the 2019 season hasn't been kind to him: he's already allowed 14 free passes in only 18.1 IP. There is a true wide range of possible landing spots for Sheffield, ranging from the aforementioned No. 2 starter all the way to being relegated to a chair in the bullpen, patiently awaiting the eighth inning to roll around.
2018 STATS: New York (AL) - 3 g, 0 gs, 0-0, 10.13 ERA, 2.2 IP, 10.0 Ctl, 0.0 Dom, 0.0 Cmd, 1 HR, .364 oppBA
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) – 20 g, 15 gs, 6-4, 2.56 ERA, 88.0 IP, 3.7 Ctl, 8.6 Dom, 2.3 Cmd, 3 HR, .204 oppBA
Trenton (AA) – 5 g, 5 gs, 1-2, 2.25 ERA, 28.0 IP, 4.5 Ctl, 12.5 Dom, 2.8 Cmd, 1 HR, .163 oppBA
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 2 on Seattle's Organization Report; No. 53 on the BHQ 100
CURRENT ROLE: Long relief; possible spot start
POTENTIAL: #2 starter
RATING: 9D

Dillon Maples (RHP, CHC)
Maples has had short trials with the Cubs in both 2017 and 2018, with each time totaling 5.1 IP over multiple relief appearances. A power reliever out of Pinecrest High School in N.C. (and under the seasoned eye of respected coach Jeff Hewitt), Maples's FB can touch 100 mph. He mixes that with a plus SL as his main offspeed pitch, though he will also sprinkle in a decent CB at times, as well. The 26-year-old's primary roadblock is his control. The 6.2 Ctl he owns in the minors (over 292.1 IP) just isn't going to cut it in the major leagues—even considering his strong Dom of 10.8. His numbers were even more polarizing last season while serving as the closer at Triple-A Iowa: He struck out two batters per inning, but also handed out a free pass every frame. Maples' upside remains that of a closer, but favorable odds of him filling that role (or even a setup reliever) are totally predicated upon finding the strike zone with much improved consistency. For now he'll work in middle relief.
2018 STATS: Chicago (NL) - 9 g, 0 gs, 1-0, 11.81 ERA, 5.1 IP, 8.5 Ctl, 15.3 Dom, 1.8 Cmd, 2 HR, .318 oppBA
Iowa (AAA) – 41 g, 0 gs, 2-3, 2.79 ERA, 38.2 IP, 9.1 Ctl, 17.4 Dom, 1.9 Cmd, 2 HR, .162 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Closer
RATING: 7B

Kelvin Gutierrez (3B, KC)
Gutierrez came over to KC in the summer of 2018 from the Nationals organization as part of the return for Kelvin Herrera. The 24-year-old Dominican is well-built at 6'3" and 215 pounds. He toiled in the lower levels of the minors for several years before finally cracking Double-A in 2018, and in the process posted some decent skills. For his career he has a triple slash of .285/.347/.392 to go along with a respectable 80% contact rate. He will need to improve his Eye (0.44 in the minors), but at worst has the makings of a solid utility player. Though primarily a third baseman during his professional tenure, he has also logged innings at both 1B and SS, as well.
2018 STATS: Northwest Arkansas (AA) - 242 AB, .277/.337/.409, 8 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 0.44 Eye, 10 SB
Harrisburg (AAA) – 230 AB, .274/.321/.391, 6 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 0.26 Eye, 10 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup CI
POTENTIAL: Starting 3B
RATING: 7C

April 26, 2019

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, TOR)
He's good. You want more? He's great. More? All right, let's talk about why prospect writers almost unanimously thought this 20-year-old is the No. 1 prospect in the game. Let's start with his age. Standing 6'2" and weighing 250 pounds having only just turned 20, his body is game ready to do great baseball things. Last year at Triple-A Buffalo, he walked 15 times and struck out only 10 times ... as a teenager. Then you look at his batting line from 2018, and you see power, bat control, and high average potential. Then you talk about his baseball knowledge, much of which came from his HoF father, who could hit anything. Junior is a bit different in that his plate discipline is great; no chasing pitches for him. He knows how to distinguish balls from strikes, and when he gets his pitch he smashes it in grand arcs into nearby hotels and parking lots. The prospects who don't strike out much, have power and can draw walks because pitchers are afraid to challenge them, are the prospects who stand the best chance to come up to the majors and succeed quickly. To be fair, he doesn't have much speed, and his defense is not great, and he will have to watch his conditioning. But BHQ doesn't give out 10 ratings easily, yet for Guerrero Jr. the numbers back it up. There were calls to bring up him last year as a 19-year-old. He probably could have handled the majors just fine then, but he's even more ready now. Minor league pitchers can exhale at last: the career .331/.414/.529 batter is finally in the majors.
2018 STATS: Buffalo (AAA) — 110 AB, .336/.414/.564, 7 2B, 6 HR, 0.19 Eye, 0 SB
Norfolk (AAA) — 74 AB, .270/.329/.500, 5 2B, 4 HR, 1.50 Eye, 0 SB
OTHER COVERAGE: #1 on HQ100; #1 on the Blue Jays Organization Report; Eyes Have It report
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 3B
POTENTIAL: Starting 3B
RATING: 10C

Carter Kieboom (SS, WAS)
With Trea Turner out and Wilmer Difo struggling, the Nationals are calling up 21-year-old Carter Kieboom to make his major league debut. Washington's No. 2 prospect and at No. 24 on the HQ100, Kieboom was one of the best prospects in the minors. Primarily a SS, he also began playing some 2B in the Arizona Fall League and then in Triple-A to enhance his defensive versatility, the 6'2", 190-pound Kieboom had a great spring (12 hits in 43 ABs including three HRs). He then went to Triple-A Fresno and has been laying waste to the league, hitting .379/.506(!)/.636 in 66 ABs. He's ready, 21 years old or not. He's still growing, with room on his frame to add weight and boost his strength. He's got good all-around skills, drawing walks and keeping the strikeouts under control, putting up gaudy OBP numbers, even stealing a few bases with his great baseball instincts. It's his bat that is special, with good bat speed and pitch recognition that should let him transition to the majors with few problems. The job can be his if he hits the ground running. But only being 21 years old, and having only 66 ABs in Triple-A, don't be surprised if any struggles lead him back to Frenso in the short run. In the long run, Kieboom will be a good player for the Nationals for years to come. This bat will play wherever they put him.
2018 STATS: Harrisburg (AA) — 248 AB, .262/.326/.395, 16 2B, 5 HR, 0.37 Eye, 3 SB
Potomac (A+) — 245 AB, .298/.386/.494, 15 2B, 11 HR, 0.72 Eye, 6 SB
OTHER COVERAGE: #24 on HQ100; #2 on the Nationals Organization Report; Eyes Have It report
CURRENT ROLE: Starting SS
POTENTIAL: Starting SS
RATING: 9C

Taylor Hearn (LHP, TEX)
Needing another arm desperately, the Rangers called up 24-year-old lefty Taylor Hearn and had him make his first major league start. He's spent just four games at Triple-A Nashville, part of the notoriously difficult Pacific Coast League, but he's done well there: striking out 26 of 84 batters faced (11.7 Dom) and walking 10 (4.5 Ctl, but that's the PCL for you). The 6'5", 210-pound Hearn is long and lean now, but with a frame that will let him add good weight. He has three good pitches, with his fastball being plus already. It sits mid-90s mph, but he can crank it up when he needs to, and he gets good extension to make it play up. His slider and changeup are both mid-80s offerings, with his slider growing in quality over the last year. He has a clean and easy delivery. Now as someone up more for team need than his development demanded, it would not be a surprise to see Hearn go back down if the Rangers continue to need pitchers. With very little experience at Triple-A, Hearn could use more time there to develop. One thing to watch out for is his slight flyball tendency which could lead to HRs being given up. This spring he faced 17 batters, struck out four of them and didn't walk any, but he did give up two HRs. But with a improving three-pitch mix, and a history of strong strikeout numbers along with decent control, this is a future #3 SP in the making.
2018 STATS: Altoona (AA) – 19 g, 19 gs, 3-6, 3.12 ERA, 104.0 IP, 3.3 Ctl, 9.3 Dom, 2.8 Cmd, 6 HR, .198 oppBA, 1.087 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: #7 on the Rangers Organization Report
CURRENT ROLE: Spot starter
POTENTIAL: #3 starter
RATING: 8C

Dylan Cozens (OF, PHI)
Roman Quinn goes back on the IL, so the Phillies brought back 24-year-old outfielder Dylan Cozens. Cozens put up a quiet batting line in 38 ABs for the Phillies last year, but he hit well in spring training, and he's shown his usual power in Triple-A Lehigh Valley so far. Standing 6'6" and weighing 235 pounds, that power is his best skill, a plus plus ability to crush fastballs. He also brings some speed to the table, even swiping 21 bags back in 2016. That's the good news. The bad news will be his batting average, for he can be had by good breaking pitches, and his contact rate will be ugly. Defensively he can handle a corner infield spot with his strong arm. So it comes down to accepting his power over his lack of batting average. Better for an OBP league (career .329) than a BA league (career .254). He is likely to go back down when Quinn comes back, and Cozens can work on getting back to last year's skills at Lehigh Valley. If he could replicate anything close to that batting line in the majors, the power would play.
2018 STATS: Lehigh Valley (AAA) — 297 AB, .246/.345/.529, 17 2B, 21 HR, 0.56 Eye, 9 SB
Philadelphia (MLB) — 38 AB, .158/.273/.289, 2 2B, 1 HR, 0.25 Eye, 1 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve OF
POTENTIAL: Reserve OF
RATING: 7D

Luis Rengifo (2B, LAA)
Zack Cozart's injury lets 22-year-old Luis Rengifo make his major league debut at 2B for the Angels. The 5'10", 195-pound infielder can handle 2B or SS or even some outfield duty if needed. He didn't do much in spring training with only four hits in 22 ABs, and his repeat of Triple-A Salt Lake hasn't gone very well either. But this is a team need, and he put up fine numbers in Salt Lake last year. Rengifo doesn't have loud tools, but he does have a very good Eye. The switch-hitter doesn't strike out much, always draws walks, has enough power to keep pitchers honest, and brings speed to the table (41 SBs through three minor league levels last year). Defensively he's best at SS, but he has the ability to handle 2B. He might not be up for long this time, but he has enough skills to be a second-division infielder, making contact, hitting line drives, stealing bases. The power might develop as he gets older.
2018 STATS: Salt Lake (AAA) — 190 AB, .274/.358/.421, 9 2B, 3 HR, 0.81 Eye, 6 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 2B
POTENTIAL: Starting MI
RATING: 7B

 

April 25, 2019

Kohl Stewart (RHP, MIN)
The Minnesota Twins have called up RHP Kohl Stewart to make a spot start against the Houston Astros. This is a homecoming for the Texas native who was a first-round pick in the 2013 MLB draft out of St. Pius X High School in Houston. Stewart made his MLB debut last season and pitched well in 36.2 IP. Stewart failed to break camp with Minnesota and has been woeful thus far with Triple-A Rochester, allowing eight ER in 12 IP.  Stewart mostly mixes his four-seam FB with his sinker the vast majority of time. He also mixes in a CB, CU and SL, with both his CB and CU being average offerings and his SL being a below-average offering. To be successful, Stewart must rely heavily on changing eye levels and hitting his spots in all four quadrants of the zone. He has a repeatable cross-fire three-quarters delivery, which enables him to command his pitches, especially his FB and Sinker to both sides of the plate. To be a relevant fantasy contributor, Stewart must get swings and misses. Unfortunately, he lacks a true out pitch to help him maintain a respectable Dom rate.
2018 STATS: Minnesota (MLB) – 8 g, 4 gs, 2-1, 3.68 ERA, 36.2 IP, 4.4 Ctl, 5.9 Dom, 1.3 Cmd, 1 HR, .236 oppBA
Rochester (AAA) – 7 g, 5 gs, 0-3, 3.98 ERA, 40.2 IP, 2.7 Ctl, 6.6 Dom, 2.4 Cmd, 4 HR, .269 oppBA
Chattanooga (AA) – 14 g, 14 gs, 3-4, 4.76 ERA, 68.0 IP, 2.8 Ctl, 9.4 Dom, 3.4 Cmd, 3 HR, .292 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Spot SP
POTENTIAL: #4 Starter
RATING: 7D

Ty France (3B, SD)
The Padres have called up Ty France to make his MLB debut. A career corner IF, the jury has always been out about whether France had enough glove to stick at either 3B. The versatility he has afforded himself by learning 1B and LF likely led to a 40-man roster spot in the off-season and this call-up today. France has always had offensive skill since being drafted in the 34th round by the Padres out of San Diego State in 2015. He had a strong camp with the big leaguers this spring, slashing .257/.381/.514, and has continued his strong performance in Triple-A, slashing .423/.500/.885 with 9 HR in 78 AB including being hit by nine pitches in 19 games. At first glance, it might appear the Padres have no room for France to secure significant playing time, especially with the acquisition of Manny Machado this spring. However, he's played 2B at AAA this month and that could be what SD has in mind for him. Look for France’s stay in the big leagues to be a short one. However, France could find his way into playing time if he ends up outside of the organization.
2018 STATS: El Paso (AAA) – 94 AB, .287/.382/.532, 8 2B, 5 HR, 0.68 Eye, 0 SB
San Antonio (AA) – 415 AB, .263/.349/.448, 22 2B, 17 HR, 0.47 Eye, 3 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve IF/OF
POTENTIAL: Reserve CIF
RATING: 6B

Enyel De Los Santos (RHP, PHI)
The Phillies have recalled Enyel De Los Santos up from Triple-A to provide depth in their bullpen. De Los Santos made his MLB debut last season, pitching OK, mostly as a multi-inning reliever. He has started throughout his MiLB career. He’s a three-pitch pitcher who relies heavily on his FB/CU combo to keep hitters off balance and induce soft contact. Unfortunately, the lack of a workable breaking ball has stunted his growth into a SP role. Stuff wise, the low-90s FB is of the two-seam variety. He does a solid job keeping the ball away from the barrel while inducing groundballs. His CU is a late-fading pitch and does a great job creating swings and misses against LHH batters. It is De Los Santos’ best pitch. The lack of a serviceable breaking ball holds De Los Santos’ upside back. However, the FB/CU is good enough to work in the pen. Last season, his FB ticked up to 95-96 in a reliever role. For now, the Phillies will rely on De Los Santos’ arm in the pen.
2018 STATS: Philadelphia (MLB) – 7 g, 2 gs, 1-0, 4.74 ERA, 19.0 IP, 3.8 Ctl, 7.1 Dom, 1.9 Cmd, 2 HR, .250 oppBA
Lehigh Valley (AAA) – 22 g, 22 gs, 10-5, 2.63 ERA, 126.2 IP, 3.1 Ctl, 7.8 Dom, 2.5 Cmd, 12 HR, .215 oppBA
OTHER COVERAGE: #13 in the Phillies Organizational Report; 2018 scouting report
CURRENT ROLE: RP
POTENTIAL: #4 Starter
RATING: 7B

Matt Ramsey (RHP, LAA)
Journeyman minor leaguer Matt Ramsey has had his Triple-A contract purchased by the Angels. This is Ramsey’s first call-up at 29 years old. He has pitched primarily in relief since being drafted by Tampa Bay in the 19th round of the 2011 draft out of Tennessee. He looked on the verge of an MLB debut in 2014, dominating Double-A with a mid-90s FB and a devastating power CB. He earned a Marlins' 40-man spot during the 2015 off-season. Then, Ramsey suffered an elbow injury and lost a year-and-a-half recovering from TJS. Unfortunately, the stuff never came back. Ramsey has opened the 2019 pitching well for Salt Lake. He’ll provide depth in the Angels pen.
2018 STATS: Fresno (AAA) – 33 g, 0 gs, 2-2, 2.30 ERA, 47.0 IP, 3.1 Ctl, 10.3 Dom, 3.4 Cmd, 5 HR, .216 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: RP
POTENTIAL: Long RP
RATING: 6C

 

April 24, 2019

Darwinzon Hernandez (LHP, BOS)
A J2 signing out of Venezuela in 2013, Hernandez reaches the majors with all of 22.0 IP at the Double-A level and a ton of questions surrounding his command profile. What’s not in question is the stuff, as the 6’2, 245 pounder can flash two plus-plus pitches in his fastball and curve. The fastball is the more consistent of the two offerings, sitting mid 90s and touching 99. The pitch features natural cut and comes in at a difficult angle to pick up. The curve is more tricky, as while it can flash a devastating out pitch, he has trouble commanding it, and often times hitters can sit on the fastball when he can’t locate it. There’s a changeup in here as well, and it can flash average, but this is more of a relic from his starting days, and while various evaluators haven’t closed that door, the organization seems to have. It’s also of note that while his GB% rate has plummeted as he’s climbed the ladder, he only gave up 1 HR over 101.0 IP last year, so if he can keep the ball in the park, it will further give him opportunities in leverage even if he’s struggling to find the zone. There’s back-of-the-bullpen upside here, but it’s all dependent on Hernandez improving his command significantly. Until then, he’ll both strike out and walk a ton.
2018 STATS: Portland (AA) — 5 g, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 9.0 Ctl, 15.0 Dom, 1.7 Cmd, 0 HR, .250 oppBA, 2.00 WHIP
Salem (A+) — 23 g, 9-5, 3.56 ERA, 101.0 IP, 5.3 Ctl, 11.0 Dom, 2.1 Cmd, 1 HR, .220 oppBA, 1.39 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 9 on Boston’s Organizational Report; 2018 scouting report 
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 7C

Jose Fernandez (LHP, DET)
Claimed off waivers last season from the Blue Jays, the 6’3”, 215 pound Fernandez enters a Tigers organization where his hard-throwing lefty profile should find action. The 26-year-old Dominican operates with a mid-90s four-seam fastball, alongside a high 80s cutter and low 80s slider. Fernandez has featured high Dom rates in his career, but it’s come along with high Ctl rates, which likely limits his utility, but left-handers that can hit 95 find work, and Fernandez has done well limiting right handers throughout his career. He likely ends up a lefty specialist if he can tone down the walks and keep the strikeouts coming.
2018 STATS: Toronto (AL) — 13 g, 0-0, 6.10 ERA, 10.1 IP, 3.5 Ctl, 5.2 Dom, 1.5 Cmd, 2 HR, .244 oppBA, 1.36 WHIP
Buffalo (AAA) — 21 g, 1-2, 2.45 ERA, 29.1 IP, 2 Sv, 2.5 Ctl, 9.8 Dom, 4.0 Cmd, 2 HR, .209 oppBA, 1.06 WHIP
New Hampshire (AA) — 23 g, 3-1, 3.45 ERA, 31.1 IP, 2 Sv, 6.6 Ctl, 9.5 Dom, 1.4 Cmd, 5 HR, .204 oppBA, 1.47 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Lefty specialist
RATING: 6D

Wei-Chieh Huang (RHP, TEX)
Huang is a still-rail-thin Taiwanese product that signed with the Diamondbacks in 2014 for $450K. Originally a starter in their organization, continued injuries forced him moved to the bullpen in 2017, and while he doesn’t have high-octane stuff, a plus changeup has helped him maintain a Dom rate over 11 the rest of the way up. Huang’s fastball is rather straight and lacks movement, but he’s not afraid to work inside to right-handers with it. It’s an average pitch without much more projection, but its delta off his changeup is enough to keep hitters honest. He’s never really gotten around to pushing his breaking ball to average, and at best it projects as a fringe-average offering. Huang can be a bit wild from time to time, but generally commands his pitches well so his future control grade likely hovers somewhere around fringe-average. 6”1” and 170 pounds, there’s always going to be durability concerns but his pitchability should allow him to transition to the majors where he projects as an average middle reliever who could go a few innings each time out.
2018 STATS: Frisco (AA) — 9 g, 1-1, 6.30 ERA, 20.0 IP, 3.6 Ctl, 11.3 Dom, 3.1 Cmd, 5 HR, .269 oppBA, 1.45 WHIP
Jacksonville (AA) — 10 g, 2-1, 2.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, 1 Sv, 2.3 Ctl, 10.7 Dom, 4.6 Cmd, 1 HR, .208 oppBA, 1.00 WHIP
Visalia (A+) — 19 g, 4-1, 2.59 ERA, 31.1 IP, 4.6 Ctl, 13.2 Dom, 2.9 Cmd, 3 HR, .157 oppBA, 1.05 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever
RATING: 6C

Travis Lakins (RHP, BOS)
Originally drafted as a starter out of The Ohio State University in the 6th round of 2015, Lakins has taken off since moving to the bullpen and gets the call despite limited exposure in the high minors. The 6’1”, 180 pounder wasn’t terrible in the rotation, quite the opposite frankly, but stress fractures in his elbow at the end of his first two seasons in professional baseball prompted the Red Sox to move him to the pen to lessen the strain on his arm. He still uses his full four-pitch repertoire in relief and features his plus cutter as his chief out pitch. Lakins’ fastball is rather straight and while it sits mid 90s, he can get hit hard if he’s not playing it off his cutter well or locating it. If the 24-year-old Lakins can maintain his health, he’s got a long career ahead of him in the majors as a setup reliever with excellent ratios.
2018 STATS: Pawtucket (AAA) — 10 g, 1-0, 1.65 ERA, 16.1 IP, 2 Sv, 2.8 Ctl, 8.3 Dom, 3.0 Cmd, 0 HR, .186 oppBA, 0.98 WHIP
Portland (AA) — 26 g, 2-2, 2.61 ERA, 38.0 IP, 1 Sv, 3.1 Ctl, 9.9 Dom, 3.2 Cmd, 3 HR, .191 oppBA, 1.05 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 10 on Boston’s Organizational Report
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 6B

Daniel Poncedeleon (RHP, STL)
Average all around and featuring a throwback style, Poncedeleon is sure to be a fan favorite long term in The Gateway City. A 9th rounder out of the baseball hotbed that is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2014, the 27-year-old has moved quickly, reaching the majors last season and performing well. Everything in Poncedeleon’s repertoire is average, including his command, with his curveball his best pitch garnering above-average grades from some evaluators. But both it and his change are distinguishable from his other offerings out of his hand, making him more hittable than the profile would suggest, and leading to subpar usage rates. As such, he’s been primarily a cutter/fastball guy. 6’3” and 200 pounds, Poncedeleon is quite thin and while he’s worked in the rotation on his way up and still projects as a back-end starter, there are concerns as to whether his frame would hold up over the course of a full season of starts, making a middle relief role out of the bullpen a more realistic outcome.
2018 STATS: St-Louis (NL) — 11 g, 0-2, 2.73 ERA, 33.0 IP, 1 Sv, 3.5 Ctl, 8.5 Dom, 2.4 Cmd, 2 HR, .205 oppBA, 1.12 WHIP
Memphis (AAA) — 19 g, 9-4, 2.24 ERA, 96.1 IP, 4.7 Ctl, 10.3 Dom, 2.2 Cmd, 2 HR, .197 oppBA, 1.24 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL: #5 starter/Swingman
RATING: 6B

Jose Quijada (LHP, MIA)
Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Quijada has the tools to make it in the big leagues as a bullpen option. 5’11” and 203 pounds, the Venezuelan is primarily a two-pitch guy, with an above-average fastball that touches 97 and plus slider with solid break. There’s also a fringe changeup in here, and Quijada will use it to keep left-handed hitters at bay, something he’s effectively done his entire career as his splits show he’s even better against them. Indeed, if it weren’t for his frame and endurance, Quijada could pitch at the backend of a rotation, but he’ll likely occupy a middle relief, multi-innings role if his stuff makes the jump with him. Head coach Mattingly has already said that Quijada’s tenure with the parent club will be short, returning to Triple-A New Orleans as soon as Jarlin Garcia (LHP, MIA) returns from the paternity list, but as the top-remaining LHP bullpen arm, he’ll likely be on a shuttle back and forth all season.
2018 STATS: New Orleans (AAA) — 27 g, 2-4, 3.32 ERA, 40.2 IP, 3 Sv, 4.9 Ctl, 11.5 Dom, 2.4 Cmd, 2 HR, .171 oppBA, 1.13 WHIP
Jacksonville (AA) — 17 g, 0-2, 2.42 ERA, 22.1 IP, 4 Sv, 2.8 Ctl, 11.7 Dom, 4.1 Cmd, 1 HR, .171 oppBA, 0.90 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever
RATING: 6C

Zac Reininger (RHP, DET)
Now the proud owner of his third call-up feature here at Baseball HQ, not much has changed for Reininger outside of his age, experience, and sliding rating grade. Primarily a fastball/slider guy, there are usable tools here that have performed well in the minors, but over two separate promotions, the wheels have had trouble staying on. His 9.2 IP in 2017 could have been flukey, but he got 21.1 IP last season and his results weren’t all that much better. Reininger has setup upside with his plus fastball and usable other offerings, but time is running out for him to transition effectively to the major leagues. He’s beginning to look more and more like organizational depth
2018 STATS: Detroit (AL) — 18 g, 1-0, 7.59 ERA, 21.1 IP, 3.8 Ctl, 7.6 Dom, 2.0 Cmd, 5 HR, .311 oppBA, 1.73 WHIP
Toledo (AAA) — 37 g, 5-1, 2.63 ERA, 51.1 IP, 6 Sv, 2.8 Ctl, 9.3 Dom, 3.3 Cmd, 3 HR, .236 oppBA, 1.21 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 6C

 

April 23, 2019

Adrian Houser (RHP, MIL)
Filling in for the injured Freddy Peralta, 26-year-old Adrian Houser was called up to make his first major league start. Houser appeared in relief in seven games for the Brewers last year where he struck out eight of the 59 batters he faced while walking seven. The 6'4", 235-pound right-hander has mostly been a starter in the minors, and has put up great numbers in his three San Antonio starts in 2019 (faced 63 batters, struck out 18 of them while walking only two). Houser has a three-pitch mix, with his fastball and curve being plus pitches. He can crank that FB up to 97 mph and get late sink that induces ground ball after ground ball (1.77 GO/AO for his minor league career). Then he throws his 11-to-5 curve in the upper-70s and gets his strikeouts (career 8.1 Dom). His third pitch, the change-up, is not as good, and in the long run this is probably a bullpen arm, though a potentially good one. Getting strikeouts and ground balls is a good combination that should let him carve out a major league role somewhere. Peralta looks to be back soon, so his stay might be brief this time, but with 68+ IP at Triple-A already, Houser should be in the majors for good later this season or next. His 2018 numbers in Colorado Springs merely reflect how difficult is for any pitcher to play there.
2018 STATS: Milwaukee (MLB) – 7 g, 0 gs, 0-0, 3.29 ERA, 13.2 IP, 4.6 Ctl, 5.3 Dom, 1.1 Cmd, 0 HR, .255 oppBA, 1.463 WHIP
Colorado Springs (AAA) – 13 g, 13 gs, 2-3, 5.19 ERA, 52.0 IP, 3.1 Ctl, 6.4 Dom, 2.1 Cmd, 6 HR, .314 oppBA, 1.615 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Spot starter
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever
RATING: 7B

Steve Wilkerson (Util, BAL)
With Dwight Smith out with a quad injury, the Orioles called up 27-year-old Steve Wilkerson and immediately put him in the lineup batting sixth and manning left field. Where can the 6'1", 195-pound Wilkerson play? Whaddya got? So far in 2019 he has played 1B, 2B, 3B and CF. In 2018 he added LF, RF and SS. A utility player role is made for this guy. His hit tools are average to fringe-average, with a little speed and a little power, but probably not much of each. He has a decent 0.44 Eye, and has a career minor league OBP of .342, so his bat might produce some results. However, his spring training results didn't give us much to hope for: 15 strikeouts in 40 PA with no walks. That mirrored his 49 plate appearances with Baltimore in 2018 when he struck out 16 times while walking only three times. Still, his numbers in Triple-A Norfolk are decent this year (.316/.350/.456 in 71 AB), and he will try to carry that momentum into the majors. Long-term he is more likely to serve as a utility bat.
2018 STATS: Baltimore (MLB) — 46 AB, .174/.224/.239, 3 2B, 0 HR, 0.19 Eye, 1 SB
Norfolk (AAA) — 74 AB, .270/.329/.500, 5 2B, 4 HR, 0.33 Eye, 0 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Starting LF
POTENTIAL: Utility fielder
RATING: 6C

 

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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.