It seems like every year, more and more baseball teams are realizing that they might benefit from playing their top prospects a little bit sooner. Maybe we don’t need to give them a few years of destroying lesser talent before we promote them, they say. Maybe they can be valuable players without walking uphill to school four miles in the snow, both ways, they grumble.
Which brings us to three hot prospects who joined the big leagues on Tuesday, early enough in the season to make a real impact this year.
The Milwaukee Brewers are calling up 22-year old second baseman Keston Hiura, who was Fangraphs’ 13th-best prospect coming into the season.
Hiura has been hitting the seams off of the baseball in his first year at the AAA level. With a slash line of .333/.408/.698, it was more than time for him to make his dept. That type of power - he has 11 home runs in 147 plate appearances this year - is very exciting for a middle infielder. With the Brewers sitting at 24-19 - second in the National League Central - Hiura will get a chance to contribute to a team making a run for the playoffs.
Also contributing to such a cause will be Oscar Mercado, who was called up by Cleveland. A defense-first outfielder, Mercado has been having a breakout year with his bat. After struggling to get much going offensively in his first few years, the 24-year old slashed .294/.396/.496 in 140 AAA plate appearances this year.
He’ll get a chance to bring high-end speed to Cleveland’s contending team, as they seek to win yet another American League Central crown.
On the other side of things is the Kansas City Royals. The Royals won’t be competing at any point this year - they’re a dismal 14-27 - but they have some exciting players on their team. Rather than call up a prospect to help them win this year, they’re calling up someone to show off what he can do, and get him ready to help the team in future campaigns.
Enter 24-year old middle infielder Nicky Sanchez, the top prospect in Kansas City’s system. Sanchez projects to be an outstanding defensive player, and his bat is rapidly developing. After a so-so first AAA campaign a year ago, Sanchez bumped up his slash line to .353/.457/.500 this year. It was time for a promotion.
Three teams, three prospects, three Major League debuts. If you’re into watching youngsters, check out Cleveland, KC, and Milwaukee.