Just four weeks in to the season and already major league clubs are scouring their affiliates for help. This past week saw the games two biggest prospects in Bryce Harper and Mike Trout called up to the big leagues. This week I take a look at the recent recalls and discuss whether they are up for good or just a short term fix. We’ll also take a look at some of the best remaining prospects and see how they are doing down on the farm. So, if you’d like to stay ahead of your fantasy league and be able to tell all your buddies what skills the latest AAA recalls possess, come with me for the rest of the Farm Report.
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The Chosen Ones
Bryce Harper – OF – Nationals – The Nats summoned the #1 prospect in baseball on Friday to take the place of 3B Ryan Zimmerman. Nats manager Davey Johnson says that while Harper is in the big leagues he will be an everyday player. He has hit 7th in his first two games and gone 2-6 with an RBI. Personally, I don’t think he is ready to handle major league pitching right now. The league is going to identify that Harper can be had on cut fastballs under his hands. His swing is also too long to make consistent contact at this level. The talent is there but subtle changes are going to have to be made if Harper is to have long-term success against supreme talent.
Mike Trout – OF – Angels – As if not to be outdone by the Nationals, the Angels decided to recall their top prospect in Mike Trout also on Friday. I feel as though Trout has a bit more of a chance at success this year due to the fact that the Angels have been struggling mightily. After spending $250 million on Albert Pujols, there is a sense of desperation in L.A. right now. The Angels have released Bobby Abreu and immediately inserted Trout in the leadoff spot in their lineup. This is a massive opportunity for the youngster as if he can just provide a minimal spark at top of the order the big boppers such as Pujols, Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick and Kendrys Morales will likely come to life as well. If the Angels start winning games, and there is little doubt that they shall, Trout’s run in the big leagues could very well be a permanent one.
Brad Eldred – 1B/DH – Tigers – Eldred is far from being a prized prospect. But he was the hottest hitter in all of the minor leagues preceding his call to Detroit last week. Eldred had rung up a line of .388/.444/1.014, 13 HR, 35 RBI and 23 runs in just 80 at-bats for AAA Toledo. He has always been a prolific power hitter but has also not made enough contact to stay at the big league level. The Tigers called upon Eldred amid a horrible offensive funk hoping his hot bat could help get the offense started. He won’t spend much time in Detroit unless he goes on a major tear but there is some big short term upside in his bat.
The Next Batch
Ryan Wheeler – 1B/3B – Reno (Diamondbacks) -- .308/.337/.538, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 9 runs
Wheeler could replace either Paul Goldschmidt or Ryan Roberts in the lineup if he is called up. He has a good bat with above average power. Although he is not a threat on the basepaths and isn’t much in the field, Wheeler’s hot bat could land him in the D-Backs lineup very soon.
Will Middlebrooks – 3B – Pawtucket (Red Sox) -- .348/.396/.708, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 18 runs, 3 steals
If Kevin Youkilis continues to comedown with random injuries and the Red Sox need a boost offensively, they will look no further than their #1 prospect in Middlebrooks. He is the ideal 3B with a ton of raw power and a very good run producing approach at the plate.
Starling Marte – OF – Indianapolis (Pirates) -- .286/.355/.500, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 17 runs, 9 steals
I absolutely love Starling Marte and once you watch him play for an extended period of time you will too. He is exactly the kind of talent and person the Pirates need to complement Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Alex Presley right now. Better times are coming in Pittsburgh and it will be no coincidence that Marte will be there front and center when they arrive.
Trevor Bauer – RHP – Mobile (Diamondbacks) – 5-0, 1.26 ERA, 28.2 IP, 37 K’s, 1.22 WHIP
The Southern League hitters should file a lawsuit against the Diamondbacks for having Bauer down here when he belongs in the front of a major league rotation. Bauer will be in Arizona at some point this season and when he arrives he will be able to unpack all of his belongings because he will be there for a long, long time.
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I’ve been talking up Matt LaPorta for the past couple of weeks and he just isn’t slowing down. He is currently hitting a whopping .368/.437/.684, 6 HR, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored. Meanwhile the Indians go out and sign a 38 year old Johnny Damon which will not only keep LaPorta in the minors but will also retard the development of Michael Brantley and Shelly Duncan.
LaPorta was the focal point of the deal that sent C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee when the Indians basically had their pick of any prospect in any farm system. To give up on a guy who has just turned 27 and is entering his prime years is beyond me.
Eventually, when the elders that the Indians insist on trotting out there breakdown they will call upon LaPorta and I have a feeling that this time he will be ready to take that next step we’ve all been waiting for in his development.
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