CALL-UPS: September 3-September 9, 2019

James Marvel (RHP, PIT)

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 9, 2019

James Marvel (RHP, PIT)
The overall leader in the minor leagues in wins with 16, 25-year-old James Marvel put together an excellent 2019 campaign to reach the majors for the first time in his career. Drafted by the Twins in 2012 in the 37th round, Marvel fell due his strong commitment to Duke and not because of a lack of prospect status. He’d honor that commitment and suffer both leg and arm injuries, resulting in Tommy John surgery and again pushing his draft stock low, signing with the Pirates in the 36th round in 2015, but for a $150K bonus. Despite an ideal frame at 6’4” and 204 pounds, Marvel is a cerebral, pitchability guy. He’s adept at working in and around the zone with his 91 mph fastball with heavy sink. Marvel has pushed his curveball to an above-average pitch that can flash plus, giving him a second offering that results in a lot of groundball action. He’s flashed plus groundball rates up the ladder, including a 49.3% rate for Double-A Altoona and 47.5% rate for Triple-A Indianapolis this year. Marvel has also significantly progressed with his changeup and has been even harder on left-handers this season than right-handers. He generates a lot of weak contact (12.6% LD%, 5.5% HR/FB, .228 oppBA for Altoona, 13.0% LD%, 6.3% HR/FB, .214 oppBA, for Indianapolis) and keeps the ball in the park, things he’ll have to continue to do to survive in the majors with fringe-average velocity (7.8% SwK for Altoona, 11.2% SwK for Indianapolis). Marvel’s delivery is fairly easily and low effort, though despite his height, he doesn’t get down the mound as much as he should, limiting his velocity though likely allowing his command to play up and allowing some projection in the rotation. It’s still a backend profile, but one that could eat a considerable amount of innings should he be able to push one of his secondaries to plus. If he doesn’t work in the rotation, there’s some upside here in a middle relief role for the 2019 Eastern League All-Star.
2019 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) — 11 g, 7-0, 2.67 ERA, 60.2 IP, 3.3 Ctl, 7.9 Dom, 2.4 Cmd, 4 HR, .214 oppBA, 1.12 WHIP
Altoona (AA) — 17 g, 9-5, 3.10 ERA, 101.2 IP, 2.1 Ctl, 7.3 Dom, 3.5 Cmd, 6 HR, .222 oppBA, 1.07 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL: #5 starter/Swingman
RATING: 6B

Tres Barrera (C, WAS)
A fourth-round, below-slot signing out of the University of Texas in 2016, Barrera has moved quickly through the minors, especially for a catcher. A three-year starter for the Longhorns, the 6’0”, 215-pound, native Texan only started catching his senior year at Mission Sharyland High School in Eagle Pass, Texas, having previously worked as a shortstop and earning first team All-State honors there as a junior. Defense is Barrera’s calling card, receiving solid, above-average grades across the board for his catching skills. Instinctive and poised, the 24-year-old is advanced at blocking balls and his soft hands allow him to catch nearly anything and frame well. His athleticism allows him to move well and his above-average arm controls the running game, having thrown out 49% of runners in the high Single-A Carolina League last year, though that number slipped to 29% this year for Double-A Harrisburg. Barrera is fluent in both English and Spanish being a native Texan of Mexican descent. He receives high grades for makeup, and is considered a favorite among players and coaches alike. He projects as a backup, however, due to below average offensive tools. Despite his history as a middle infielder, Barrera’s run tool is near well-below average, and alongside 40-grade power, there’s not a lot in the profile to build upon. His fringe-average hit tool is his best offering, with a level stroke and solid approach that allows consistent contact and some pull-side power. He’s availed himself well this year on his first taste of the upper minors, with a .249/.323/.381 line with 23 2B, 8 HR, 0.52 Eye, and 80.7% ct%. There’s some potential for a second-division starter here, but this is most likely a solid, long-term backup in the majors.
2019 STATS: Harrisburg (AA) — 357 AB, .249/.323/.381, 23 2b, 8 HR, 0.52 Eye, 1 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup C
POTENTIAL: Backup C
RATING: 6B

 

September 8, 2019

Austin Hays (OF, BAL)
Following a huge 2017 season split between Double-A and Triple-A (along with a handful of ABs in Baltimore), Hays was the No. 40 overall prospect entering 2018. Injuries and poor plate discipline derailed that season's campaign for him, however, and he fell off most of the 2019 prospect lists as a result. While his AVG and Eye have been decidedly mediocre in 2019, he's swung the bat better as a whole, and he will now get the chance to make an impression on the big league club over the final couple of weeks of the season. The natural ability is there for him to be a 30-HR hitter in the bigs, but the holes in his swing mean that his AVG will be a drain. Hays possesses good speed, but his poor success rate in the minors indicates that he'll have the red light in the majors more often than not. Having just turned 24, there is still time to see some improvements across the board -- but despite being Baltimore's No. 5 prospect entering the year (linked below), odds are strong that he'll end up as just an average overall fantasy specimen. Low-average players with pop, especially in the OF, are plentiful in today's climate.
2019 STATS: Norfolk (AAA) - 240 AB, .254/.304/.454, 16 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 0.18 Eye, 6 SB
Bowie (AA) - 56 AB, .268/.328/.518, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 0.46 Eye, 3 SB
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 5 on Baltimore's Organizational Report.
CURRENT ROLE: Backup OF
POTENTIAL: Starting OF
RATING: 8C

Danny Hultzen (LHP, CHC)
Hultzen is a former top prospect (he was the No. 24 overall minor leaguer in the 2012 Minor League Analyst) who has finally reached the majors after suffering multiple shoulder injuries. The 29-year-old was a first round pick by Seattle way back in 2011, but he has essentially missed all of 2014 through 2018 -- throwing only 8 IP in 2015, 2 IP in 2016, and 8.2 in 2018. Originally destined to be a top-end piece of a starting rotation, Hultzen has since transitioned to the bullpen to alleviate his workload. His Dom this season at Triple-A Iowa has been very promising but his control needs work -- which is understandable considering the rust that comes with injuries. The raw stuff is there, though, as he's featured a mid-90s FB, a low-90s sinker, and a CB that has kept hitters off balance (check out his minuscule 0.91 WHIP and .087 oppBA.) Shoulder injuries are difficult to fully shake, so there's no guarantee that Hultzen will be completely fine moving forward -- but for now it's great to see him finally ascend to the big leagues.  If the stars align and is IS able to stay healthy, then he will surely be a weapon to be reckoned with out of the pen.
2019 STATS: Iowa (AAA) - 14 g, 0 gs, 0-1, 1.26 ERA, 14.1 IP, 5.7 Ctl, 14.5 Dom, 2.6 Cmd, 0 HR, .087 oppBA
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 7E

Tyrone Taylor (OF, MIL)
Taylor is a 2012 second round pick who has taken quite awhile to develop. He first reached Double-A back in 2014 but stalled there, not reaching Triple-A until 2018. He has shown middling skills throughout his career; a little speed here, some gap power there. Overall, though, his slash line over 2,899 AB is only .269/.327/.411, and that comes with a 0.49 Eye. Not a recipe that often leads to a big league breakout, especially from a 25-year-old. Taylor is a natural center fielder, however, and can adequately man both corner spots, as well -- so he has the opportunity to eventually stick as a 4th OF. He's unlikely to ever reach double-digit HRs or SBs over a full season in that capacity, so his fantasy contributions will be minimal.
2019 STATS: San Antonio (AAA) - 334 AB, .269/.334/.461, 20 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 0.33 Eye, 5 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup OF
POTENTIAL: 4th OF
RATING: 6C

Anthony Kay (LHP, TOR)
Kay was ranked No. 6 on the Mets' preseason organizational report before eventually getting shipped to Toronto in the Marcus Stroman deal. He comes at hitters with an aggressive, pitch-inside approach with a FB that can reach 95. With only two years of professional development due to him having TJ surgery right after being drafted, there is still some room to grow for the former first rounder. The lefty continues to work as a SP, but considering that neither of his offspeed pitches (CB and CU) have truly evolved yet, a future in the bullpen may eventually come to pass. As a SP his ceiling is likely as a No. 4 unless one of those change-of-pace offerings improves.
2019 STATS: Buffalo (AAA) - 7 g, 7 gs, 2-2, 2.50 ERA, 36 IP, 5.5 Ctl, 9.8 Dom, 1.8 Cmd, 3 HR, .244 oppBA
Syracuse (AAA) - 7 g, 7 gs, 1-3, 6.61 ERA, 31.1 IP, 3.2 Ctl, 7.5 Dom, 2.4 Cmd, 7 HR, .325 oppBA
Binghamton (AA) - 12 g, 12 gs, 1.49 ERA, 66.1 IP, 3.1 Ctl, 9.5 Dom, 3.0 Cmd, 2 HR, .165 oppBA
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 6 on NYM's Organizational Report (pre-trade).
CURRENT ROLE: Spot starter
POTENTIAL: No. 4 SP or Setup reliever
RATING: 8D

 

September 7, 2019

No Callups today.

 

September 6, 2019

Yohander Mendez (LHP, TEX)
If the name Yohander Mendez is familiar, it may be because he has pitched for Texas in parts of the last three seasons without exhausting his prospect status. Now they will try for year No. 4, this time as a long reliever, and they will hope he doesn't break any more team rules, as what happened in 2018. The 24-year-old lefty has been on the 60-day IL most of this year dealing with left elbow strain, and only appeared in 18.1 minor league innings as a reliever as he recovered from that injury. Standing 6'5" and weighing 200 pounds, Mendez has only one really good pitch, a change-up that he throws in the low 80s and which can be filthy at times. His fastball is his second-best pitch, a low-90s offering that is average but which he finds hard to locate well. His slider and curve are behind, and if he is to continue developing as a SP, he needs at least one of those to improve. If you cannot dominate with your fastball and control it where you want it, and you don't have a breaking ball that can reliably get the strikeouts, you will struggle as a starter. Don't let his 2019 Triple-A numbers deceive you: as good as they are, they were for only 7.1 innings. His career minor league numbers tell the more accurate story with an 8.5 Dom and 2.9 Ctl. In 43 previous major league innings, including five starts, he had a 5.2 Dom and 4.2 Ctl. But now as a long reliever, and more importantly as a now healthy pitcher, just finishing the year strong would be a great sign.
2019 STATS: Nashville (AAA) – 5 g, 0 gs, 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 7.1 IP, 2.5 Ctl, 18.4 Dom, 7.5 Cmd, 1 HR, .125 oppBA, 0.682 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Long reliever
POTENTIAL: #4 starter
RATING: 7C

Kean Wong (2B, TAM)
Kean Wong, reporting for duty, where do you want him to play, sir? The Rays have called up the 24-year-old utility player who has primarily played 2B and 3B this year, but also SS and all three outfield positions. Standing 5'11" and weighing 185 pounds, Kolten's younger brother will make his major league debut after spending the last three seasons at Triple-A Durham. That lack of getting a call-up until now tells you the Rays do not prioritize Kean's play over other players in their organization. But as a utility bat, Wong deserves a place to play even if it winds up being for another club. Note his improvement in Durham over the last three years (and acknowledging the MLB ball this year):

2017: .265/.328/.361 
2018: .282/.345/.406
2019: .307/.375/.464

One statistical quirk: He had 451 ABs in 2018 and 453 ABs in 2019, and in both seasons he pretty much put down about 10 HRs, 6 SBs, 40 walks and 112 strikeouts. This is what to expect from a full season of Kean Wong. He doesn't have any plus tools, but he is a solid all-around player who works hard to overcome that lack. His power is growing, but it's not a strength. His speed is modest. He strikes out, but not excessively, and he walks, but not excessively, and he can get on base about a third of the time. Defensively he is not great, but he can capably hold down 2B or 3B, or maybe LF. He really does make a good utility player. Now he gets his first chance to prove it at the major league level.
2019 STATS: Durham (AAA) – 453 AB, .307/.375/.464, 29 2B, 10 HR, 0.38 Eye, 6 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Utility player
POTENTIAL: Utility player
RATING: 6B

 

September 5, 2019

Jaylin Davis (OF, SF)
The Giants selected the contract of OF Jaylin Davis from Triple-A Sacramento, giving him a chance to show his worth to the big club this September. Davis, acquired in the Sam Dyson trade with Minnesota, was eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December before being protected on the 40-man roster. The 25-year-old was drafted by Minnesota in the 24th round of the 2015 draft out of Appalachian State, where he put up ordinary numbers in three years against Southern Conference competition. Davis has fared much better as a pro than in college. He broke out somewhat last season, split between High-A and Double-A, putting himself on the map as a potential bench piece with his ability to man all three OF positions while also providing an average hit tool despite a lack of game power. With Double-A Pensacola this season, he looked to have taken a step forward, providing some more power by sitting middle-in on FBs and driving them out to the pull side. Once he reached Triple-A, Davis found a friend in the juiced ball. Between three stops, he’s hit 35 HR, hitting for average and employing a patient approach, leading to a high BB%. Davis has enough hit in his profile, suggesting the power gains, while inflated in Triple-A, are realistic part of his game now. If the power is real, he’s more like a 7C prospect moving forward. He’s worth taking a flyer on. However, expect more of a 6B prospect than a 7C prospect.
2019 STATS: Sacramento (AAA) – 102 AB, .333/.419/.686, 6 2B, 10 HR, 0.50 Eye, 1 SB
Rochester (AAA) – 154 AB, .331/.405/.708, 11 2B, 15 HR, 0.32 Eye, 2 SB
Pensacola (AA) – 212 AB, .274/.382/.458, 9 2B, 10 HR, 0.56 Eye, 7 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Reserve OF
POTENTIAL: Reserve OF
RATING: 6B

 

September 4, 2019

Danny Mendick (SS, CHW)
Seemingly an afterthought selection in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft as a cheap senior sign, Mendick has had to consistently prove himself everywhere he’s played. At 5’10” and 189 pounds, the profile is light on tools but high on makeup and production, and at some point, players that continually overachieve have to be given their due. Now 25 years old, Mendick’s offensive game gets knocked due to historical below-average tool grades despite the fact that his outcomes generally have been average or better as he’s reached the high minors. A three-year All-Star from 2016-2018, Mendick’s best tool just might be his hit, as he makes consistent contact and has maintained a 10+% walk rate since 2017, with his 11.8% rate this year for Triple-A Charlotte the high-water mark. The K rate has bumped a bit to 17.2%, but it has also come with improvement in his ISO to .166. While nothing to write home about, it indicates that the quality of his contact has improved. He’s an adept base stealer despite fringe-average speed, and with 60% playing time could run into 10+/10+ HR/SB. Defensively, he’s more than adept at SS, with a .994 F% this year, logging ample time at 2B and 3B as well as out in LF to improve his versatility, though the keystone is the preferred position long term. It’s likely a super utility profile in the majors, but the possibility of a longer term in that role is more probable than other players of a similar ilk due to his mendacity and drive. This is the kind of profile that trips and falls into a second-division starter seemingly out of nowhere, though the over on that outcome on a ball club like the White Sox is quite low.
2019 STATS: Charlotte (AAA) — 477 AB, .279/.368/.444, 26 2b, 1 3B, 17 HR, 0.69 Eye, 19 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Utility fielder
POTENTIAL: Utility fielder
RATING: 6B

Tyler Heineman (C, MIA)
Acquired for cash considerations from Arizona this June, the 28-year-old Heineman gets his first taste of the majors after a breakout season in Triple-A here in 2019. Appropriately stocky for the position at 5’11” and 205 pounds, the former UNC backstop has long profiled as a backup catcher in the minors who kept backing up offensively after an impressive campaign. His 2013 numbers for high Single-A Lancaster sure looked like a Cal League mirage after stumbling to a .242/.332/.332 in 2014 for Double-A Corpus Christi, but Heineman would rebound in 2015 to slash .285/.334/.379 and reach Triple-A. There he would stall out for the next three seasons, hitting a total of five HR over 457 AB. What’s never been in question has been his defensive skills, as Heineman has regularly put up a F% over .990 and CS% in the 40% zone alongside low attempt numbers. It’s likely that a fair amount of his offensive breakout here in 2019 is due to the new ball in Triple-A, but Heineman’s plate discipline has always been excellent, he’s consistently featured good bat speed, and he hasn’t sacrificed any contact ability (87.2% ct%) to get his ISO for Triple-A New Orleans to .280. Catchers tend to always take longer to come around with the stick, and that very well could be the case for Heineman. He still profiles as a backup in the majors, but one that could sneak into second-division starting utility, especially on a team like the Marlins.
2019 STATS: New Orleans (AAA) — 164 AB, .341/.397/.622, 12 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 0.57 Eye, 4 SB
Reno (AAA) — 80 AB, .325/.407/.525, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 0.64 Eye
CURRENT ROLE: Backup C
POTENTIAL: Backup C
RATING: 6B

Gabe Speier (LHP, KC)
A 2013 19th-rounder out of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, Speier was a pop-up arm that commanded a $200K bonus who could have gone as high as the fifth, but dropped due to a strong UC Santa Barbara commit where his uncle Chris Speier played before embarking on his 19-year MLB career. The concerns that the 6’0”, 175-pound Speier would end up in the bullpen due to an inability to hold velocity came to fruition quickly, as he was transitioned to the bullpen in his third season and has remained there since. Now on his fifth organization, he’s thrice been traded, and had stalled out at Double-A for three years before taking off this season for the Royals. The 24-year-old Speier has multiple offerings from his time starting, including a fairly straight 94-mph fastball that he can cut for some arm-side run. His changeup is his best pitch, with almost screwball like action, but he has trouble controlling it due to an inconsistent delivery. There’s also a fringe-average curveball and seldom used slider in the mix. His platoon splits flipped once he entered the Royals org, where he’s now dominating against LHP to the tune of a .163/.241/.245 slash over 98 AB this year, alongside a nearly 3-point jump in his Dom rate, possibly due to an increase or progression with his changeup, as Speier had previously been known as a fastball-breaking ball guy. There’s major league upside here, though it’s likely as a situational lefty at best. Speier will need to better harness his delivery to make it but the improvements he’s made this season have been notable.
2019 STATS: Omaha (AAA) — 30 g, 0-4, 5.63 ERA, 40.0 IP, 1 Sv, 3.8 Ctl, 10.1 Dom, 2.7 Cmd, 10 HR, .263 oppBA, 1.45 WHIP
Northwest Arkansas (AA) — 17 g, 1-1, 2.42 ERA, 22.1 IP, 5 Sv, 3.6 Ctl, 11.3 Dom, 3.1 Cmd, 2 HR, .233 oppBA, 1.30 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Situational lefty
RATING: 6B

Erick Mejia (SS, KC)
Mejia features a classic utility profile highlighted by plus speed and defensive versatility, held back from starting duties due to below-average power and fringe-average hitting. A 5’11”, 155-pound switch-hitter out of the Dominican Republic, Mejia’s now on his third organization after being twice traded, earning Eastern League All-Star honors last season in his first year in the Royals organization. While originally signed as a middle infielder, the 24-year-old Mejia has moved around the field to increase his versatility, and profiles well at nearly every position, though he can still get lackadaisical at times. At the plate, he features a level-stroke and makes consistent contact, though he can be too aggressive, leading to substandard walk/OBP rates in the high minors, ultimately anchoring the utility of his best offensive tool: speed. With the inability to effectively drive the ball on a consistent basis, nor walk at an above-average rate, it’s a profile that likely maxes out at super utility in the majors.
2019 STATS: Omaha (AAA) — 495 AB, 22 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 0.49 Eye, 19 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Utility fielder
POTENTIAL: Utility fielder
RATING: 6C

Brian Moran (LHP, MIA)
Colin Moran’s (3B, PIT) journeyman brother finally receives his first major league taste at the ripe, old age of 30. Now on his fifth team after multiple releases, two stints in independent ball, and Tommy John surgery back in 2014, the 6’4”, 230-pound Moran was a funky-delivery, fastball-in-the-mid-80s, deception guy throughout his career, helping to explain why he never was able to crack a major league roster. In the intervening years since his surgery, Moran dropped his arm slot and somehow found a considerable amount of velocity, now sitting low-to-mid 90s and transforming himself into a guy with some, albeit limited, major league value. The arm slot change also helped his slider play up to an above-average pitch, making him extremely difficult against left-handed batters, as evidenced by his .086/.254/.086 line against them over 58 AB this year for Triple-A New Orleans. The command is still a bit shaky, but with the ability to neutralize lefties and a Dom rate hovering around 11, there’s a chance he could stick around for a few years as a LOOGY, though the major league rule change forcing pitchers to pitch to three batters likely complicates that future.
2019 STATS: New Orleans (AAA) — 43 g, 2-3, 3.15 ERA, 60.0 IP, 3.9 Ctl, 11.6 Dom, 3.0 Cmd, 6 HR, .207 oppBA, 1.18 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Situational lefty
RATING: 6D

Seth Mejias-Brean (3B, SD)
Absolutely buried in an avalanche-deep organization like San Diego’s, Mejias-Brean gets called likely as a future trade showing and not as a future Padre option. 6’2” and 216 pounds, the former Arizona Wildcat has consistently been viewed as a glove-first type player at the hot corner, a profile that generally finds it difficult to crack a major league roster on anything above a second-division team. Unfortunately for the 28-year-old Mejias-Brean, he would prove to be error prone at 3B in his journey through the Reds system, seeing increasing action over at 1B where his light bat profiled poorly, and would get picked up by Seattle in a minor league trade in 2017. That’s not to say that there wasn’t thump in his bat, just not enough to profile well on the corners. In Seattle, the defense would improve, but the bat would continue to languish in the high minors, eventually resulting in his release after the 2018 season. Picked up by San Diego, Mejias-Brean has had something of a mini-breakout, with 18 2B, 11 HR and a slash line of .316/.371/.455 over 411 AB for Triple-A El Paso. The fact that he hasn’t hit for much power despite the new ball calls into question how much of this is translatable to the major league game, but it makes sense to audition him as a potential throw in on a future package to try and pare down what is certainly the coming 40-man roster crunch for San Diego.
2019 STATS: El Paso (AAA) — 411 AB, .316/.371/.455, 18 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 0.42 Eye, 4 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup CI
POTENTIAL: Backup CI
RATING: 6D

Steven Baron (C, PIT)
The only real news to report on Baron since his last profile here in Call-ups is that the bat has seemed to regress even more, to a .180/.264/.248 slash line over a sad 133 AB this year for Triple-A Indianapolis. He’s still serviceable behind the plate, with only 4 E, 1 PB and a 34% CS%, but this isn't much to write home about. The profile has long been considered a reserve, third catcher and here at 28 years old, that’s still the “upside,” though it’s but a squint at this point in his 11-year professional career. Baron remains nothing more than organizational depth, with some upside as a future backstop coach.
2019 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) — 133 AB, .180/.264/.248, 3 2B, 2 HR, 0.34 Eye
CURRENT ROLE: Backup C
POTENTIAL: Reserve C
RATING: 3B

 

September 3, 2019

Kyle Tucker (OF, HOU)
One of the best prospects in the minors is back in the major leagues. Kyle Tucker has rejoined the Astros after a so-so first attempt with them back in 2018 where in 28 games he put up a .141/.236/.203 batting line. He has bounced back nicely in Triple-A this year where he became a 30-30 man while putting up a .354 OBP and an almost .300 ISO at age 22. That power is his best skill, but his BA potential is also plus for he doesn't strike out excessively, he draws walks, and he has a smooth swing. A career .283 BA in the minors shows his bat skills, and though it might dip in the majors, his .356 career OBP shows that he will get on base enough to use his speed. His 121 stolen bases over a five-year minor league career show the potential. After stealing mid-20s in 2017 and 2018, he jumped to 30 this year, and that combination of power and speed along with on-base ability is what makes him a top prospect. He stands 6'4", and weighs just 190 pounds, so he has room to fill in before the speed starts to lag. Going to a loaded Houston lineup, he may find it difficult getting regular playing time, or else he would have been called up sooner. But with a full season at Triple-A at just 22 years of age, and a solid year there too, he's ready to try the major leagues again. 2018 gives us some caution about his short-term productivity, but his skills will produce sooner or later. Tucker has a bright future.
2019 STATS: Round Rock (AAA) – 463 AB, .266/.354/.555, 26 2B, 34 HR, 0.52 Eye, 30 SB
OTHER COVERAGE: No. 1 on the Astro's Organizational Report; No. 3 on the Top Outfielder List; No. 6 on the Midseason Top 50
CURRENT ROLE: Outfield depth
POTENTIAL: Starting OF
RATING: 9B

Anthony Banda (LHP, TAM)
After two previous seasons spent partially in Tampa, this has been a year of recovery from Tommy John surgery for 25-year-old Anthony Banda. As such we can be a bit forgiving for a pitcher returning from TJS who is facing the MLB ball at Triple-A for the first time. That 2.2 hr/9 rate is a bit disconcerting since his minor league career mark is 0.7 and his brief major league mark is 0.4. The 6'2", 225-pound lefty appeared in eight games for Arizona in 2017 and three games for Tampa in 2018, putting up credible numbers in both cases. His 3.5 Ctl this year is probably the usual readjustment of control that occurs after TJS. Banda has three pitches, leading with his mid-90s plus four-seam FB that tails late. His curve is more like a slider, sitting in the low-80s, and it needs more work to be effective. His change-up is decent, with late fade and effective in getting strikeouts. For a lefty to throw 95-96 mph is considered hard throwing, and out of the pen this is an arm that could become a setup reliever in a hurry. If he doesn't develop a solid third pitch soon, the pen is his home. This year is all about getting back in the groove. From 2020 onward, the Rays might have another weapon in their bullpen.
2019 STATS: Durham (AAA) – 9 g, 4 gs, 2-3, 6.04 ERA, 28.1 IP, 3.5 Ctl, 8.6 Dom, 2.5 Cmd, 7 HR, .262 oppBA, 1.376 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 7C

TJ Zeuch (RHP, TOR)
2016 first-rounder TJ Zeuch is being called up to make his major league debut as a bulk reliever. The 23-year-old righty has been climbing minor league levels since his draft, and now put up a credible line in Triple-A. You wouldn't think he could be effective when you look at his Dom, but Zeuch is a pitch-to-contact extreme groundballer (more than 2-to-1 ground outs in his career); he's not trying to strike 'em out. The 6'7", 225-pound starter has a four-pitch repertoire though he hardly uses his change-up. His fastball is a 92-to-94 mph offering that tops out at 96. With his 6'7" height, he creates a downhill tilt that leads to those ground balls. That FB is his best pitch, but his slider is also above average. His 12-to-6 curve is behind those other two pitches. His 4.5 Dom in Buffalo is extreme for his career average is 6.4. He doesn't walk many, gets enough strikeouts to keep the batters honest, and induces ground ball after ground ball. Especially if his curve develops to give him three average or better pitches, he could become a back-end rotation arm. The WHIP might not be that clean, but he could compete. As a bulk reliever following an opener, he could offer an interesting different look that could be quite effective. The Blue Jays will use September to evaluate him, and then decide if he needs more Triple-A time to start next year, or if they want to use him out of the pen in Spring Training.
2019 STATS: Buffalo (AAA) – 13 g, 13 gs, 4-3, 3.69 ERA, 78.0 IP, 3.7 Ctl, 4.5 Dom, 1.2 Cmd, 6 HR, .238 oppBA, 1.308 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Bulk reliever
POTENTIAL: #4 starter
RATING: 7D

Ryan McBroom (1B/OF, KC)
Just a day after obtaining him in a trade from the Yankees, the Royals have called up 27-year-old Ryan McBroom to make his major league debut. A 36th-round pick back in 2013, McBroom has steadily climbed minor league levels, finishing his second season at Triple-A where he put up a very solid line. The 6'3", 235-pound McBroom has 20+ HR power, along with enough of a batting eye to get on base at a decent clip. He has no speed, and his defense is sub-par. He has been tried at RF and a few LF games, but mostly is relegated to 1B or DH. Until this year he was more of a line drive hitter with a flat swing, but the MLB ball in Triple-A agreed with him and he jumped to 26 HRs along with 29 doubles. That's what he can give his new team, another 1B type with some power. At age 27, it's time to see what aspects of McBroom's skills can translate to the majors. In September of a lost Kansas City season is the perfect time to give him the chance to show it.
2019 STATS: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) – 413 AB, .315/.402/.574, 29 2B, 26 HR, 0.58 Eye, 2 SB
CURRENT ROLE: Backup 1B
POTENTIAL: Starting 1B
RATING: 7D

Ronald Bolanos (RHP, SD)
The Padres have called up 22-year-old right-hander Ronald Bolanos. A Cuban signee back in 2017, he has moved up to Double-A this year where he produced good results. He's young, so more minor league time would be expected, but he can use this September to demonstrate if he can be of use to the Padres as early as next year. Standing 6'3" and weighing 220 pounds, Bolanos has four pitches, but only one of them can be considered plus. His FB sits at 93 mph but can reach as high as 97. He also has a slider, curve and change-up, but these are works in progress. A starter in the minors, to remain such he will need to develop at least two of his secondary pitches. He does have a groundball tilt, which has helped keep his home run rate low. Batters hit only .193 against him earlier this year in High-A, but in Double-A it's been up to .249, and no doubt major leaguers will hit him harder too. Bolanos has done well thus far in the Padres organization, and this is a club that develops one good bullpen arm after another. If his secondaries develop, he might be a fifth starter, but he is more likely to be a solid middle reliever or setup guy. Expect that to take another year or so to determine, but for now he gets to show what he can do at this level.
2019 STATS: Amarillo (AA) – 15 g, 13 gs, 8-5, 4.23 ERA, 76.2 IP, 3.5 Ctl, 10.3 Dom, 2.9 Cmd, 7 HR, .249 oppBA, 1.118 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Setup reliever
RATING: 6C

Cole Sulser (RHP, TAM)
It's taken four years at Triple-A and a trade to a new team, but 29-year-old Cole Sulser has finally reached the major leagues. Sulser throws a low-90s FB, a decent change-up in the low 80s, and a slider with depth also sitting in the low 80s. He needs to work up and down effectively to be successful in the majors, for his fastball will get hit if thrown around the plate. That said, the 6'1", 195-pound right-hander had a very effective season in Durham, batters hitting only .208 off of him and with a Dom of 12.1. He started four games, but only for an inning or two, so perhaps Sulser could be another opener for the Rays. They traded for him last offseason, so this is their chance to see if he can provide some short-term help for the team.
2019 STATS: Durham (AAA) – 49 g, 4 gs, 6-3, 3.27 ERA, 66.0 IP, 3.3 Ctl, 12.1 Dom, 3.7 Cmd, 4 HR, .208 oppBA, 1.136 WHIP
CURRENT ROLE: Middle reliever
POTENTIAL: Middle reliever
RATING: 5D

 

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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.