Prospect Watch: Forcing the Issue

Each weekday during the minor-league season, FanGraphs is providing a status update on multiple rookie-eligible players. Note that Age denotes the relevant prospect’s baseball age (i.e. as of July 1st of the current year); Top-15, the prospect’s place on Marc Hulet’s preseason organizational list; and Top-100, that same prospect’s rank on Hulet’s overall top-100 list.

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In today’s edition of Prospect Watch, we discuss minor leaguers who could help their Major League clubs soon.

Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 21   Top-15: 12th   Top-100: N/A
Line: 106 PA, 15.6% BB, 16.5% K, .253/.367/.418 (.271 BABIP)

Summary
The Mike Moustakas experiment must end.

Notes
Over the past several seasons, the Royals have been a conflicted, desperate team. Their futility has been embodied by Mike Moustakas’ on-field performance. Since his debut, the former top prospect has been a below league average hitter and his wRC+ has been among the worst in the league at his position. Through 29 games, the Royals sit a game below .500 and have second to last in runs scored per game. Moustakas’ wRC+ of 51 isn’t entirely to blame, of course, but the Royals could do with an upgrade.

Assuming, for the sake of the piece and Royals fans’ sanity, the Royals do not entertain a trade. Cuthbert is a nice in-house option. Cuthbert could offer the Royals passable defense — he has a strong arm, but isn’t very agile — while Moustakas tries to figure himself out in Triple-A.  Cuthbert isn’t highly regarded, so there shouldn’t be service time constraints.

It’s probable that Cuthbert isn’t worse than Moustakas, but if a minor league stint doesn’t fix Moose than at least the Royals will be certain they need to acquire at least a stop-gap third baseman before the July trade deadline. On the off chance Cuthbert performs well or Moustakas rectifies his issues, such a move would not be necessary.

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Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 22   Top-15: 1st  Top-100: 17th
Line: 131 PA, 7.6% BB, 18.3% K, .392/.443/.608 (.467 BABIP)

Summary
Gregory Polanco is very good. Jose Tabata is not. Make this happen Pittsburgh.

Notes
The Gregory Polanco crusade has begun. If the Pirates want to increase their playoff odds, it would be wise for them to get on board.

Well they are, sort of. The Pirates want Polanco to be there everyday right fielder, but only on the condition that he accept the team’s $25M, seven year contract offer. Unlikely the Astros, who called up George Spinger shortly after he rejected a similar offer, the Pirates are yet to indicate their plan for the young outfielder.

Surely, Polanco would provide the team with an upgrade over their current right fielder, Jose Tabata. Tabata is a serviceable outfielder, but he shouldn’t be a starter on a playoff contender. His power numbers are light, his walk rate is in decline and defense is poor. Polanco, however, could be a star.  A consensus top prospect, Polanco has no more to learn at Triple-A Indianapolis. He’s 6’4″ but a plus runner and an above average defender. At 22 years old, he’s yet to tap into his power, but it will come, as indicated by the natural lift in his swing.

Opine as you will about Polanco’s decision to turn down the Pirates offer. Personally, I am surprised he didn’t accept the life changing money after signing for a mere $150,000. But, you should disappointed in the Pirates decision to keep him in Indianapolis and his clock stopped for a few extra million dollars.



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Formerly of Bullpen Banter, JD can be followed on Twitter.



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SKob
Guest

The Royals have a better 3B on their current roster! Nobody is going to call Valencia an allstar, but he’s been reasonable productive whenever he has started. He’s still fairly young being on the right side of 30, for now. It’s one thing to stick with a young player through a rough patch, it’s another to pass up an obviously better player to the detriment of a potentially contending team. They are 1 game out of a wild card spot with their 3B hitting .150!

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City

Just a couple of years ago the Royals farm system was being called one of the greatest in history. Not only were they supposedly deep with talent, they had more high-end talent than anybody.

Moustakas has been a bust, Hosmer has not been a major force, Lamb and Duffy had TJ problems, Colon (#4 overall draft pick) never learned how to hit, Montgomery and Dwyer stalled, Odorizzi and Myers were traded for reasons known only to Dayton Moore.

The Royals prove that TINSTAAPP. They also show that no matter how highly regarded a minor league system is, it does not necessarily translate into major league success.

What a disappointment!

Cicero
Guest
Cicero

and the Rockies featured 3 .390wOBA hitters(Holliday, Hawpe, Atkins) and a 23yo who touched 99 none of whom ever made a top 100 list

Peter 2
Guest
Peter 2

You’ll be eating your words when Colt Griffin makes his debut

Simon
Guest
Simon

Valencia is woeful against right handers, which is kind of problematic.

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