Teams are not at all being shy this season. They are calling up their prospects and plugging them right into their rotations and lineups with little hesitation once they show they’re ready.
An injury to Cleveland’s Tyler Naquin opened the door for Oscar Mercado to get at least a cup of coffee as an everyday player. The righty had produced a .296/.396/.496 line in Triple-A to date. The Indians outfield has consisted of Carlos Gonzalez, Leonys Martin, Naquin, and Jordan Luplow (platooning with Gonzalez). None are noted for their on-base skills and only Luplow is slugging over .500 albeit over a small sample which includes a near-36% strikeout rate and .370 BABIP so take that level of performance with lightly. Enter Mercado. A former Cardinals farmhand, he has stolen at least 30 each season since 2005 and has already racked up 14 in Triple-A in little over a month. That alone, without any further discussion, makes him worth at least a flier in any format. Previous scouting reports had him pegged as a fourth outfielder type due to his speed and defensive abilities. Over the past two seasons, he has started to become more patient at the plate walking around 11% of the time but has had difficulty keeping his strikeout rates under 20%. Were he a pure, power-devoid standard speedster, that might be the death bell, but Mercado has gap power, capable of putting 5 to 10 home runs out of the ballpark per season. If he shows anything while Naquin is out, this could easily turn into a longer stay. The true test will be to see how Mercado handles right-handed pitching to verify whether or not he can be more than a platoon player.
Hiura Time in Milwaukee
With Travis Shaw going on the shelf for at least ten days, the Brewers elected to bring up 2017 first-round pick Keston Hiura from Triple-A. Shaw owners should be quite worried on several levels. First, wrist injuries often sap power and can take a fair amount of time from which to recover. Second, his struggles so far and Hiura’s Triple-A domination (.333/.408/.698) might consign him to a bench role regardless. Clearly, Hiura will not be maintaining a .405 BABIP at the MLB level and a significant degree of his level of production will be lost in translation to the Majors. Hiura’s bat speed and ability to make hard, line-drive contact are his calling cards which have long had him projected as a potential .300 hitter with mid to high teens home run power and single-digit stolen base skills. This year, however, he appears to be selling out for more power with 11 longballs already on the season and a strikeout rate (27%) to match. This has worked in Triple-A, but it will be interesting to see if he returns to his previously established norms or continues with this more power-conscious approach which is contrary to being a .300 hitter in the majors.
Today was just a brief taste of a few of the prospects and recent transactions. More tomorrow!