There are no conspiracies in Major League Baseball… just large coincidences. One such coincidence was the significant number of top prospect call-ups in June. Many of these prospects now have close to a month’s worth of experience in the Majors, so it’s a perfect time to check in on them and see which players are positioning themselves to make a strong run at the Rookie of the Year awards.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
OK, we’re fudging the rules right off the bat here with Posey, who technically played three games in May. One of the top offensive prospects in baseball, he’s looked good at the MLB level and is currently hitting .310/.337/.414 in 87 at-bats. The Giants organization has already announced that Posey will see more time behind the dish going foward, which is great news for his overall value as he’s currently appeared in just three games as a catcher, compared to 21 games at first base.
Jason Castro, C, Houston
Castro is one of the most recent call-ups and he has just four games of MLB experience under his belt. The former No. 1 draft pick narrowly missed making the team out of spring training only to go down and struggle in triple-A with a triple-slash line of .226/.388/.245. Luckily for him, J.R. Towles failed in his bid to hold onto the big-league gig.
Pedro Alvarez, OF, Pittsburgh
Despite his brief pro career, Alvarez has a bit of a reputation as a slow starter. He hit poorly at high-A ball in ’09 before moving up to double-A and setting the world on fire. Then he opened up 2010 at triple-A and hit just .224/.298/.424 in April. His bat came to life in May and June, though, which earned him a shot at the Majors. Alvarez has struggled to make contact in his first 10 games. The former No. 1 draft pick has struck out 17 times in his first 35 at-bats. His triple-slash line currently sits at .114/.158/.171.
Jose Tabata, OF, Pittsburgh
Tabata more or less reinvented himself at triple-A in 2010 by setting a career high in steals in just 53 games and also by hitting more than .300 with solid on-base numbers. Rewarded with his first taste of the Majors, Tabata has hit better than Alvarez but he’s still producing modest numbers. The former Yankees prospect is hitting .242/.299/.339 in 62 at-bats.
Mike Stanton, OF, Florida
The 20-year-old Stanton got a lot of people excited with his double-A numbers, which included 21 homers, a 1.171 OPS, and 52 RBI in 53 games. Unfortunately, a lot of people looked past the high strikeout rate. The Marlins’ top prospect is currently hitting just .213/.279/.311 in 61 at-bats. His strikeout rate sits at 47.5 K%. It definitely would have made a lot of sense to give him some time at triple-A before promoting him to the Majors.
Brad Lincoln, RHP, Florida
A former Top 5 pick in the amateur draft, Lincoln has been a little slower to develop than the organization had likely hoped. The right-hander produced good, but not great, numbers at triple-A this season, which was good enough to earn a shot in Pittsburgh. The MLB results have not been that great, though. Lincoln currently has a 5.95 xFIP and his ground-ball rate sits at 38%. His strikeout rate through four starts is just 3.00 K/9.
Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington
Another pitcher with four MLB starts… but the results here are quite different. Despite having a BABIP-allowed of .358, Strasburg’s xFIP sits at 1.35 and his strikeout rate is 14.57 K/9 (with a walk rate of just 1.78 BB/9). So much for rookie jitters. Strasburg’s fastball has been sitting at 97.5 mph and he has positive pitch-type values for all three of his offerings (heater, curveball, change-up).
Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland
With apologies to Mr. Posey, Santana has probably had the biggest offensive impact of all the June call-ups… at least to this point. He has made a seamless transition to the Majors and is currently hitting .318/.446/.682 in 44 at-bats. Santana also has a 19.6% walk rate and has had more base-on-balls than strikeouts (1.83 BB/K rate). His wOBA sits at .472. The biggest knock on Santana is defense, but he’s thrown out 50% of base stealers with just one error and no passed balls.
Jake Arrieta, RHP, Baltimore
Arrieta finally began to turn potential into results in 2010 at triple-A. The right-hander produced a 1.85 ERA and gave up just 48 hits in 73.0 innings of work. Promoted to the Majors for the first time in his career, he has a 6.20 ERA (5.78 xFIP) in four starts. Arrieta has given up 20 hits with a walk rate of 5.31 BB/9 in 20.1 innings. He’s shown a good fastball, but he’s struggled to command both his slider and his change-up.
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