CALL-UPS: September 10-September 16, 2019

Enderson Franco (RHP, SF)

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.

 

September 16, 2019

Enderson Franco (RHP, SF)
A two-time, minor league, Rule V selection, who is now on his fifth organization since signing with the Astros out of Venezuela in 2009, Franco’s stuff never fully materialized in the rotation and offers limited upside there, but whom might offer some in the bullpen. Thick and stocky at 6’2” and 225 pounds, Franco’s fastball sat 93-94 in the rotation, with some arm-side run and sink when commanding the pitch in the lower half of the zone. The problem for the 26-year-old is that his command of the pitch has been poor, causing it to straighten out when elevated. This, combined with a fringe-average slider that gets hung all too often, has led to a lot of hard hit balls—21.6% LD%, 40.9% FB%, and 24 HR in 113 IP for Triple-A Sacramento. True, some of this can be attributed to the PCL and the new ball, but make no mistake, Franco’s stuff has played below average in the rotation. His best pitch has been his changeup, and when on, it comes out looking like the fastball with a solid 10 mph velocity delta. It’s been his out pitch and most responsible for his 12.3% SwK% this year. Franco’s delivery is free and easy, one of the reasons he’s lasted so long in the rotation, but Sacramento finally moved him to the pen for their opening playoff series against Las Vegas, and while he stumbled in his first outing, he quickly moved into the closer roll, hitting 98 mph on the gun and pitching primarily off his fastball. At this velocity band, Franco’s become both much more unhittable whilst also finding much improved command. He would close out the last two games of that series without giving up a hit, run or walk, while striking out three. Franco remained nearly unhittable in the PCL championship series against Round Rock, appearing in two games and saving them both, with 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K and closing out the final game of the series to win the championship. Franco had a knack of keeping the ball in the park before this season, with a fair amount of harmless IFFB outcomes, and hasn’t shown any notable platoon splits, so there’s potential here for a seventh-inning role in the majors. However, considering they’re using the same ball in the majors, there’s still plenty of risk for the flyball pitcher, never mind that 5.2 IP is an especially small sample size. Grinding a decade through the minors since he was 16-years-old, Franco offers the ability to go more than one inning, and could see time as an opener as well if he makes the transition.
2019 STATS: Sacramento (AAA) — 26 g, 6-5, 5.97 ERA, 113.0 IP, 2.9 Ctl, 7.8 Dom, 2.7 Cmd, 24 HR, .302 oppBA, 1.55 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever/Long reliever/Opener
RATING: 6C

 

September 15, 2019

Jorge Alcala (RHP, MIN)
Alcala is a hard thrower from the Dominican Republic who has split his time in the minors almost evenly between making starts and relief appearances. Right now he has one secondary pitch that is above average: a 12-to-6 power CB. The fact that his SL and CU continue to lag behind might eventually push him to a full-time bullpen role. His FB is his best pitch, and it can reach 98 mph. His DOM has always been above average, and 2019 has seen improvements in his Ctl, so that's been a plus. Despite the big FB, however, hitters in Double-A had no problem putting the bat on the ball against Alcala, so 2020 will almost surely see him back in Rochester to start the year. For now, Alacala will provide some bullpen depth for the big league club. He began the season as the team's No. 15 prospect.
2019 STATS: Rochester (AAA) - 5 g, 0 gs, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7.2 IP, 2.3 Ctl, 12.9 Dom, 5.5 Cmd, 0 HR, .154 oppBA
Pensacola (AA) - 26 g, 16 gs, 5-7, 5.87 ERA, 102.2 IP, 3.2 Ctl, 9.2 Dom, 2.8 Cmd, 12 HR, .284 oppBA
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 15 on Minnesota's Organizational Report
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: #3 starter/Setup reliever
RATING: 8E

 

September 14, 2019

No call-ups.

 

September 13, 2019

James Karinchak (RHP, CLE)
The Cleveland Indians are calling up one of the more intriguing pitching prospects in baseball. In August, HQ analyst Matthew Mougalian, in a Playing Time Tomorrow article (linked below), called what James Karinchak was doing in the minors as "putting up video game numbers." That's certainly true when you see someone put up a 21.6 (!) Dom in Double-A, then go to Triple-A and the Dom goes even higher. When Double-A batters could only manage to hit .061 against him, that's absurd dominance. Look at what this 23-year-old right-hander has done since being drafted in the ninth round of the 2017 draft:

Year Lvl   IP  K% BB% K%-BB%
==== === ==== === === ======
2017 A-  23.1 30%  9%    21%
2018 A   11.1 43% 15%    28%
2018 A+  27.0 42% 16%    26%
2018 AA  10.1 33% 25%     8%
2019 AA  10.0 67%  5%    62% <---- Here are the video game numbers
2019 AAA 17.1 54% 17%    37%

When you see a 67% strikeout rate, you have to sit down and think about life a while. And seeing that low 5% walk rate in Double-A this year gave us hope that maybe his egregious control issues might be improving, but then Triple-A happened. At this point it's clear that until his control gets fixed, batters are in for a wild ride. Karinchak will be hard to hit, but if he doesn't wipe you out, the dust might clear and you'll find yourself on first base without having to swing. The 6'3", 230-pound Karinchak has a 70-grade fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches 98. He couples that with a plus 12-to-6 curve that drops out of the bottom of the strike zone and wipes batters out. The results are visible above. He has the potential to be a force in the back of a bullpen once he gets his control in order. Until then he will be an adventure in the bullpen, but an entertaining one. This should be a fun video game to play.
2019 STATS: Columbus (AAA) – 17 g, 0 gs, 1-1, 4.67 ERA, 17.1 IP, 6.8 Ctl, 21.8 Dom, 3.2 Cmd, 2 HR, .215 oppBA, 1.558 WHIP
Akron (AA) – 10 g, 0 gs, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 10.0 IP, 1.8 Ctl, 21.6 Dom, 12.0 Cmd, 0 HR, .061 oppBA, 0.400 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: August 19th Playing Time Tomorrow
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Closer
RATING: 8D

 

 

September 12, 2019

Johnny Davis (OF, TAM)
The Rays have purchased the contract of OF Johnny Davis from Double-A Montgomery to serve as a pinch-runner and reserve OF as they fight it out for the Wild Card. Davis, who played the majority of 2019 in the Mexican League, split between Dos Laredos and Oaxaca. Before spending time in Mexico, Davis spent parts of 6 seasons in the Brewers organization. Milwaukee drafted Davis in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft out of West Los Angeles College. The Brewers gave up on him nine games into last season at Triple-A. He spent some time in independent baseball and then headed to Mexico, where he played for the last year and a half. In Mexico, Davis slashed .300/.353/.392 with four HR and 25 XBH in 424 AB. Most of his damage was done on the bases, stealing 54 bases in 67 attempts (81% success rate), which attracted the Rays, who signed Davis on Aug. 29. With Montgomery, the 29-year-old stole more bases (3) than ABs (2). With Montgomery’s playoff run ending over the weekend, the Rays hope Davis can infuse some speed into late-inning situations and help them get to one of the Wildcard spots. Obviously, there’s no value for owners carrying pinch runners on their rosters or in their daily lineups, unless you need SBs.
2019 STATS: Montgomery (AA) – 2 AB, .000/.000/.000, 0 2B, 0 HR, 0.00 Eye, 3 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Pinch Runner
POTENTIAL: Reserve OF
RATING: 5C

 

September 11, 2019

Justin Dunn (RHP, SEA)
A reliever-turned-starter success story, Dunn has transitioned effectively from Boston College’s bullpen to Double-A Arkansas starter, and projects in a major league rotation despite moderate risk at draft time that he wouldn’t get there. More of an all-around, average-to-above-average repertoire profile, the 23-year-old has pushed his fastball to plus this season on the back of his best Ctl rating (2.7) in professional ball. The pitch sits around 92 and can touch 95, and when he’s spotting it glove-side away and low, it’s a devastating offering. Dunn progressed his changeup heavily this season, and the pitch now sits more plus than above-average, with excellent tumble that results in a high amount of swing-and-miss (12.3% SwK at Arkansas). You’ll see variance on which breaking ball is the better offering depending on the scout, with some preferring the two-plane break of his slider, and others preferring his better feel on his 11-5 curve, but both pitches are at least average, and give Dunn a solid four-pitch mix with which to keep hitters guessing. Part of the reason for Dunn’s bullpen projection in the 2016 draft in which he went in the first round to the Mets was his frame was less than ideal, as he’s shorter and heavier than his listed 6’2”, 185 pounds. However, the native New Yorker has an athletic frame and quick-twitch explosiveness, and his solid body control has allowed him plus consistency in his delivery. He’ll need to continue to work on his command, but Dunn has all the makings of a high-end No. 3 starter in the majors and stands as one of the few excellent moves that Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto has made in the trade market.
2019 STATS: Arkansas (AA) — 25 g, 9-5, 3.55 ERA, 131.2 IP, 2.7 Ctl, 10.8 Dom, 4.1 Cmd, 13 HR, .236 oppBA, 1.19 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: No.3 on Seattle’s 2019 Organizational Report, Minors: 2016 Draft
CURRENT ROLE: Spot starter/Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: #3 starter
RATING: 8B

Art Warren (RHP, SEA)
Everything has come together for Warren here in 2019. The oft-injured flameballer has still dealt with injuries, but they’ve been more middling than the serious shoulder woes that have held him back as he’s progressed through the Mariners system. A 23rd-round pick by Seattle in 2015, Walton was initially allowed to continue in the rotation where his fastball sat at 90 mph. His stuff took off once moved to the bullpen in 2017, earning a trip to the Arizona Fall League where he wowed scouts in attendance, throwing 11.1 innings of excellent baseball, with 12 K, 4 BB, 5 H and 0 R. Hopes were high for Warren coming into 2018, but a shoulder injury would sideline him for nearly the entire season and despite not being protected in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, he was not selected. Warren came into 2019 with a hip issue, but after a short stint on the IL, came out firing. The 6’3”, 230-pounder’s fastball is now a plus plus offering, sitting 97 mph and touching 100. He backs that up with two breaking balls from his time starting, a slider and curve, both of which are at least average offerings. Warren’s command lags, though with his swing-and-miss stuff, he needs more control than command, and his 3.7 Ctl rate this year is tolerable when your Dom sits near 12. Warren’s 14.2% SwK% for Double-A Arkansas is impressive, but his 60.3% GB% is even more so, combining high-octane stuff with plus plus groundball outcomes, giving Warren solid projection as a high-end closer in the big leagues. He’ll need to maintain his health to get there and continue to hone the command of his pitches, but with three offerings with solid movement and a plus groundball profile, Warren looks like another successful Seattle bullpen conversion project.
2019 STATS: Arkansas (AA) — 29 g, 2-1, 1.71 ERA, 31.2 IP, 15 Sv, 3.7 Ctl, 11.7 Dom, 3.2 Cmd, 1 HR, .202 oppBA, 1.14 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: No.15 on Seattle’s 2019 Organizational Report
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Closer
RATING: 8D

Donnie Walton (2B, SEA)
A four-year starter for Oklahoma State, Walton twice returned to the draft after low selections, paying off with a fifth-round pick by the Mariners in 2016. At 5’10” and 184 pounds, the native Texan has always fielded “spark-plug” and “grit” labels to describe his frame and game. Near-average grades across-the-board, Walton’s best tools are his field and hit, both sitting solid-average-to-above-average. At the plate, Walton’s stance is open and stays open late, allowing him ample time to see the pitch. He’s moved from a switch-hitter to left-only this year and his results have not only not suffered, but also significantly improved, slashing .286/.348/.429 against same-siders, with only 11 Ks in 84 AB. Walton’s contact skill all-around is plus, 85.0% ct% this year at Double-A Arkansas, and his plate discipline also at that level (0.88 Eye), all the more impressive considering he jumped his ISO up nearly 40 points on repeat of the league (22 2B and 11 HR in 480 AB) and was one of five qualifying players in the Texas League who hit over .300. He could maybe push the power tool to fringe-average in time, but it’s still a below average tool, but hitting balls to the gaps is still more of Walton’s bread-and-butter and he can project without average power as a middle infielder. Speed-wise, Walton’s average speed is enough for moderate SB totals, though his 13 CS in 23 tries this year says he’s too aggressive and not good on reads. In the field, that speed allows him good range up the middle and would allow him to play any position in the outfield. He’s gotten below average grades on the arm, though in my looks the tool looks closer to average than that. Indeed, Walton played almost exclusively at shortstop this season and turned in a .990 F% alongside a number of highlight-reel plays. He’s probably still better suited for the keystone, but considering the modern state of the 6 alongside the shift, Walton projects better there than just a spot starter. This is likely a utility guy at the highest level, but Walton’s got some second-starter upside in him, and the makeup and drive to get there. He’s a multiple-time All-Star across multiple levels and his consistent production up the ladder gives him a floor that says he’s a major leaguer.
2019 STATS: Arkansas (AA) — 480 AB, .300/.390/.427, 22 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 0.88 Eye, 10 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup MI
POTENTIAL: Utility fielder
RATING: 7D

 

September 10, 2019

Jesus Luzardo (LHP, OAK)
The A's top prospect, and one of the best pitching prospects in the minors, has now been called up. 21-year-old lefty Jesus Luzardo will help Oakland out of their pen, and he could be a great multi-inning weapon there. Standing just 6'0" and weighing 209 pounds, Luzardo had an abbreviated season due to suffering a Grade 2 strain in early July. At the time it was thought he might miss the rest of the season, but he returned in reasonable time and can help close out his season in style. When you can hold Triple-A Las Vegas hitters to only .240 while putting up a sparkling WHIP as a SP, you have talent. In 2018 he moved up three levels and would likely have been in the majors earlier this year if it had not been for that injury. Luzardo as a starter has three pitches he can rely on to be average or better. Two of them, his FB and CU, are already plus. His fastball is a sinking ball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and which he commands well. His plus change-up has good fade. He can move his curve effectively into the mix. He throws from a three-quarter slot, with a bit of effort, but he repeats his motion. The overall package works, and he is a great starting pitching prospect. This year is about closing out the season with health. From next year on, he could be a starter in the majors, and eventually a No. 2 starter with real talent.
2019 STATS: Las Vegas (AAA) – 7 g, 7 gs, 1-1, 3.19 ERA, 31.0 IP, 2.3 Ctl, 9.9 Dom, 4.3 Cmd, 3 HR, .240 oppBA, 1.194 WHIP
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 1 on Athletics Organizational Report; No. 13 on the Midseason Top 50;
CURRENT ROLE: Long reliever
POTENTIAL: #2 starter
RATING: 9C

Nico Hoerner (SS, CHC)
With Javier Baez and Addison Russell both injured, the Cubs have called up 22-year-old Nico Hoerner to make his major league debut after spending most of 2019 at Double-A. And what a nice year he had too, hitting .284/.344/.399 with some power, some speed and a great Eye. The 6'1", 200-pound Hoerner is known for making good contact with great barrel control. He doesn't strike out much, and he draws walks, so his on-base ability should be solid. He has some power which should develop into at least average production. He has enough speed to steal a few bases. Defensively, he played the most at SS this year, but it's felt that he won't have the range to stick there. He also played OF and 2B, and 2B is probably his eventual home. He does have good hands on defense, and could be good at the keystone. Having only reached Double-A, he is likely to start next season in Triple-A before returning again when the Cubs have a place for him to play. He has a good bat: career .297/.365/.427 hitter with 31 walks and just 36 strikeouts in 375 minor league plate appearances. That's a middle infield skill set that should prove valuable.
2019 STATS: Tennessee (AA) – 268 AB, .284/.344/.399, 16 2B, 3 HR, 0.68 Eye, 8 SB
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 4 on Cubs Organizational Report; No. 46 on the Midseason Top 50; Next Year's Hot Prospects
CURRENT ROLE: Starting SS
POTENTIAL: Starting 2B
RATING: 8C

Kyle Lewis (OF, SEA)
23-year-old Kyle Lewis repeated Double-A this year, where he showed real progress compared to 2018 (though still not setting the world on fire). Now he has been called up to the Mariners to close out the season and demonstrate how close he can be to the majors. The former first-round pick back in 2016 has had a string of injuries that have held him back from ever exceeding 327 AB until this year. Lewis is known for his powerful swing that is starting to show up in game power. 11 HRs is modest, but there are also the 25 doubles this year, and at age 23 the 6'4", 210-pound Lewis has the frame and the age to grow that power. Very sold defensively, he can help his team anywhere in the outfield, having played all three OF positions in Arkansas. His Eye is not ideal and the strikeouts add up, so expect a BA in the .250-.260 range. He doesn't bring much speed to the base paths, stealing only 10 bags over four minor league seasons. Just being healthy is a triumph for Lewis, and next year he is likely to be in Triple-A. At least he gets a shot to show what he can do in the majors now. There's risk here, but there is a chance for him to eventually be a solid outfielder in the majors.
2019 STATS: Arkansas (AAA) – 457 AB, .263/.342/.398, 25 2B, 11 HR, 0.37 Eye, 3 SB
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 7 on the Mariners Organizational Report;
CURRENT ROLE: Starting OF
POTENTIAL: Starting OF
RATING: 8E

 

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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.