by Jeff Moore
We all know Mike Trout has a decent shot of making the Angels big league roster this spring. We don’t know if it will happen or not, but we can all estimate the chances. Same with Bryce Harper. We know the chances aren’t quite as good, but if he goes all Robert Redford on us this March, we know the Nationals are going to keep Wonderboy in the majors.
But there’s always that prospect that comes from off the radar to make a team. He’s usually way too young, or way too raw, but he’s just so talented and produces all spring that the manager (who should never get his way) convinces the general manager that he can’t compete without said prospect.
It’s the argument Jerry Manuel made to Omar Minaya in March of 2010 about Jenrry Mejia that may have ruined Mejia’s career (or may have just been a bad decision, only time will tell). But just like it worked in 2010, it inevitably works in some situation every year. Just for fun, let’s take a guess at who this year’s candidates might be.
*Baseball America '12 pre-season prospect rankings: BLUE #
*Baseball Prospectus '12 pre-season prospect rankings: GREEN #
|Iglesias is a major league ready defender|
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.
We still don’t know if Iglesias (pictured) can hit at the major league level, but the Red Sox have plenty of bats. What they don’t have is a big league shortstop. Look, Nick Punto is cute and all, and he’s a heck of a utility player. But Iglesias can pick it along with anybody and the Red Sox aren’t going to be able to avoid drooling over his range this spring. Mike Aviles is a nice back-up as well but if he was the answer for the Red Sox at shortstop, do you think the Royals would have traded him? Aviles and Punto stop-gaps, and Iglesias is the one they’re stopping the gap for. He can already field at the major league level, and he may never hit, so what are the Red Sox waiting for? That may be the exact argument they make for themselves towards the end of March.
LHP Mike Montgomery, Kansas City Royals BA#1 BP#6
Speaking of the Royals, this is the year they’ve been building towards. They promoted the best of their offensive prospects last season, and the pitching is on the way. As of right now, they don’t have a ton of rotation room for an unexpected prospect, but it’s still February. They may have five guys worthy of rotation spots and a lack of organizational flexibility, but once they see Montgomery throw next to Bruce Chen and Felipe Paulino, the Royals are going to start thinking creatively. If everything stays as it is right now, Montgomery will have to head to Triple-A to start the season, but he’s only one tweaked groin away from Wally Pipping the crap out of one of the Royals' five marginal starters.
LHP James Paxton, Seattle Mariners BA#4 BP#3
The Mariners made an aggressive promotion last season with Michael Pineda, and they could do it again with Paxton, who has already drawn rave reviews for his early spring bullpens (the Mariners are the first team to report). Sure, the Mariners have a crowded rotation with seven major league ready pitchers (not including Paxton) competing for five spots. But we thought the same thing last year, and they promted Pineda anyway and came away with an all-star. Good idea or bad, they might be inclined to do it again if they think it might work.
RHP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates BA#1 BP#1
He’s really good and they’re really bad. Talent is hard to resist. It’s waaaaaay too soon, but you never know.
RHP Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks BA#1 BP# not released yet
See above, except they’re not as bad and it’s not that soon. There isn’t really a spot for him, but he is that good. Don’t be surprised if he just out-talents Josh Collmenter for a spot in the rotation.
RHP Matt Harvey, New York Mets BA#2 BP#1
The Mets have three guys who can’t break 90, and a fourth (Mike Pelfrey) who barely does. Harvey needs a full season splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, but then again, so did Mejia. Luckily for Harvey and the Mets, Omar isn’t in charge any more, so perhaps cooler heads will prevail.
OF Jared Mitchell, Chicago White Sox BA#17 BP#13
It’s been hard to pinpoint exactly what the White Sox approach to the off-season has been, but given that they were the last team to make a free agent signing (Kousuke Fukudome for $1M), I’d say they’re rebuilding. I know Mitchell is light years away from the majors, having spent the entire 2011 season in Hi-A ball and struggling at that level. But he’s super-athletic and super-talented, and those are the kinds of traits that can sway a manager’s decision-making in spring training. You can’t tell me that Robin Ventura, in his first spring as a manager, couldn’t possibly fall in love with Mitchell if he has a good spring, coupled with his athleticism in the field. I know Alejandro de Aza is out of options and all, but if Mitchell tears it up this spring, don’t be surprised to see rumors swirling around about his chances of making the team.
Jeff Moore is the creator of MLBProspectWatch.com, your one-stop shop for information, news updates, and analysis on all the game’s top prospects. If it happens on the farm, it happens here!