by Jason Martinez
Players on the verge of a big league call-up, in my opinion, are considered to be 'Knocking Down the Door'.
Josh Vitters, 3B - Chicago Cubs: The top prospect in the Cubs organization early in his professional career, Vitters had high expectations when he reached Double-A in mid-2010. After struggling in 63 games that season (.676 OPS), he put together a solid full season there as a 22 year-old in 2011 with a .283 BA, 14 HR, 81 RBI, 28 2B, 22 BB, and 54 K. But it wasn't enough to keep him from falling down the prospect ladder this offseason while everyone was focused on Anthony Rizzo and the organization's top prospect, Brett Jackson. Vitters' first month in Triple-A (.261 BA, 0 HR) did nothing to change things but he's reminding everyone the past two months why he was once such a highly-regarded prospect.
Although he's been overshadowed by Rizzo, who hit .342 with 23 HR and 62 RBI before today's call-up, the 23 year-old Vitters has hit .300 with 12 HR, 15 2B, and 31 RBI since May 1st. Sure, he could use a full season in Triple-A but with Luis Valbuena (9-for-40, .262 OBP) manning the hot corner on a regular basis and Ian Stewart not exactly tearing the cover off the ball (.627 OPS) before landing on the DL earlier this month -- he's also not close to returning -- Vitters could have a clear path to Chicago in the 2nd half.
|Petit has a 1.23 ERA in his last 8 starts|
The former Mets and Marlins prospect, who last pitched in the majors for the Diamondbacks three seasons ago, has shut down hitters in the Pacific Coast League over his past eight starts. During that span, the 27 year-old has allowed just 7 ER and 38 H in 51 IP with 10 BB and 59 K. He'll likely never come close to living up to his early career expectations, but it's very possible that he's pitching in an important big league game at some point in 2012.
Chris Tillman, RHP - Baltimore Orioles: The O's have an opening in their rotation and Tillman could be a candidate for a promotion as early as Saturday. Of course, this is only a small part of the criteria to make the 'Knocking Down the Door' list. Pitching really well is a requirement and the 24 year-old has been doing a lot of that as of late.
Since May 1st, Tillman has a 3.38 ERA with 18 BB and 65 K in 65 IP and has struck out at least 7 batters in four of his last five games. His next chance in Baltimore could be his last. If he's not going to help the O's on the field down the stretch, he could be a popular trade chip in late July. Either way, I'd expect to see Tillman back in the majors this season.
Click HERE to see the 'Knocking Down the Door' archive for 2012.