By Rob Leibowitz
Many of the moves this past week involve prospects receiving or close to getting the opportunity to claim an MLB job. So it's carpe diem, especially in Miami.
Olt could bolt to majors this year
The Miami Marlins, armed with a 40-63 record, elected to start the arbitration clocks of their two most promising players by bringing up both Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich. This past spring, I had included both players as potential impact prospects for the 2013 season as it was likely the Marlins might want to get both players' feet wet in a low-pressure situation.
Marisnick, acquired in the massive deal with the Blue Jays late last year, has been long noted for tools, but not so much on actual production. The 22-year-old was having a solid, though unspectacular (.294/.358/.502), season in Double-A, showing his 20-20 potential with 12 HRs and 11 steals. However, the righty has still shown the same fairly aggressive approach with a strikeout rate above 20% and walk rate of less than 6%. Marisnick will be the Marlins' starting center fielder for now and perhaps long term. Keep in mind, however, that Marisnick may not be quite ready to make the jump from Double-A straight to the majors and could struggle at first. Long term, I have concerns regarding his ability to be more than a wrong-side of the split platoon player, but also see him as a potential Chris B. Young type, though to Young's credit, he at least is a somewhat patient hitter.
Of the two, Yelich is the superior player to target. The 21-year-old has not necessarily put up the power/speed numbers of Marisnick this season, but he has shown an ability to translate his plate discipline skills to the higher levels of the minors (.280/.365/.518). While the ball is not necessarily going out of the park, Yelich does have 46 extra-base hits. Like Marisnick, Yelich's bat is more of a center-field bat projecting upper-teens to low-20s HR power, but 20-plus stolen base potential. Given a pretty advanced approach, I am more confident in Yelich's ability to adjust to the majors than Marisnick, but note that Yelich's strikeout rates did leap upwards of 20%, and another leap could further exacerbate his difficulties with making contact.
Brewers Get Their Steak
Francisco Rodriguez's strong season allowed the Brewers to pry Nick Delmonico from the Orioles this past week. Injuries have reduced the Brewers to a platoon of Juan Francisco and Sean Halton, and there is a need for organizational depth at the position. Delmonico, 21, is a ways away from helping on the MLB front, but could eventually. The lefty has enough power potential for the position and a patient approach to exploit it. That said, Delmonico has not at all dominated any level of play, hitting in the .240s in A+ ball despite power and a good approach. This may be somewhat attributable to having sub-par wheels and overall makes it somewhat difficult to see him as an everyday player.
Sticking with the Brewers, they had to recall Khris Davis from Triple-A in light of the Ryan Braun suspension. Davis was also amongst my preseason potential impact players, though the likelihood seemed little given the presence of Braun. Well, I guess that's one way to get rid of a roadblock, at least temporarily. Davis continued to show a good plate approach with some pop in Triple-A this season, but failed to hit for average as he had last season. Davis does not really project to hit for a high average at the MLB level regardless, but could be an upper-teens to low-20s power hitter given the opportunity. For now, the righty will serve as the lesser portion of a platoon with Logan Schafer.
The Garza Spoils
While a player or two is yet to be named, the Cubs did hook Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards already from the Rangers in exchange for Matt Garza.
Olt was potentially an odd man out in Texas even if he had been healthy and having a good season given the middle infield depth and Adrian Beltre at third base. With Chicago, the obstacles to playing time are substantially reduced, so the questions are reduced to health and getting his swing back. When on his game, Olt is a highly disciplined right-handed hitter with mid- to upper-20s home run power. He should be able to provide good OBP numbers, but given his handedness and strikeout rates, it is possible he may be more of a .250 to .270 hitter.
Grimm saw plenty of action earlier this year with the Rangers, and plenty of ups and downs too. The nearly 25-year-old may have posted a 6+ ERA in 17 starts but still showed very solid underlying peripherals with a 6.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 against a .347 BABIP and 64% left-on-base rate, not to mention a 14% home run-per-fly-ball rate! While Grimm has never profiled as an upper-end-of-the-rotation starter, the righty does possess three quality pitches, and a change of scenery to the NL along with more experience could turn his very young career around.
Edwards is in his first year of full-season ball and having good success, posting an 11.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. Edwards is more of a long-term project than Olt and Grimm, who are both almost MLB ready, though Edwards does have middle-of-the-rotation potential as well.
Travis d'Arnaud is back on the field. It will be interesting to see whether he will merit a September call-up in an attempt to claim the 2014 starting job perhaps.
Tampa Bay prospect Taylor Guerrieri underwent Tommy John surgery this past week, meaning 2014 is a loss as well. At 20 years of age, he has plenty of time to recover and still make the majors at a young age, but figure his time frame for doing so, if he remains healthy, is now inching toward the latter half of this decade.
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