September 1 is just around the corner, and that means rosters will be expanding and teams will be calling-up some of their prospects. It also means the minor league playoffs are coming up, and will serve as the last look at the prospects remaining in the minors before fall and winter leagues kick off. What players might be receiving call-ups, and who is worth keeping tabs on for the stretch run?
Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals, 21 years old
A lackluster 2011 season is a distant memory for Myers now, as he has followed up an impressive Arizona Fall League showing with an even more impressive season in the minors. There is a reasonable argument to be made that Myers is the best offensive prospect in the minors. He offers power, is capable of drawing walks at a healthy clip, and he projects to hit in the middle of a major-league order. When will he get his first crack at major league pitching? Probably not as soon as many onlookers would like. Myers isn’t on the club’s 40-man roster, and according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the team is trying to squeeze some prospects onto the 40-man roster that would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected. The Royals also have interest in Myers playing in the minor league playoffs. The organization has been shuffling him around the diamond defensively, playing him at third base on occasion once again, but it would seem the clearest path to playing time in the near future (either this year or next) would be in right field, where he would replace Jeff Francoeur. Expect Myers up for good sometime early next season, perhaps as early as Opening Day.
Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds, 21 years old
With 150 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A, Hamilton is now the single season stolen base king. It’s possible that Hamilton may get a chance to steal some bases in the bigs this year, as Reds’ general manager Walt Jocketty has indicated the organization is “having very serious discussions about it (promoting Hamilton).” His usage would likely be limited to pinch running duties, but even in that limited usage, he could be worth owning in yearly fantasy leagues if just a few stolen bases are worth some roto points.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, 20 years old
The Cardinals were aggressive with Taveras this year, having him skip High-A and make the jump from Low-A (where he played in 2011) to Double-A. Their confidence in his ability to handle a difficult assignment was well placed, as he has destroyed the Texas League. Like Myers, Taveras finds his name on a short list of candidates for best-hitting prospect in the minors. He has a swing that has been described by many as violent, but it hasn’t resulted in a high number of strikeouts thanks to his ability to control his viciously swung bat. Back in late July, there was speculation that the team may call-up Taveras and play him in center field. That seems unlikely now. Jon Jay struggled in June and July after being activated from the disabled list in late June, but he’s swinging a scorching hot bat in August, hitting .378/.446/.511. The internal discussion about promoting Taveras this year bode well for seeing him sometime in 2013.
Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers, 19 years old
The 19 year old shortstop Profar has had a tremendous season for Double-A Frisco, and he now finds himself atop Keith Law’s top-50 prospect list,Kevin Goldstein’s top-50 prospect list, Jason Parks’ top-10 prospect list, and John Sickels mid-season top-120 prospect list. The only major top prospect list he didn’t rank number one on was Baseball America’s, where he ranked second. All of those lists factor in defense, as they aren’t fantasy baseball top-prospect lists, but Profar has done plenty with the bat this year and plays a scarce fantasy position. It’s unclear when the Rangers will turn to Profar, but ESPN Dallas states that the organization has discusses bringing him up, and will likely do so again before rosters expand on September 1. If he is called up, the team may have to get creative to get him on the field, perhaps having him spell Elvis Andrus at shortstop and Ian Kinsler at second base. Profar has played in 22 games at second base according to Baseball-Reference, so it is not as if he has no experience playing the keystone position. Long term, Profar is amongst the best dynasty league and keeper prospects to own, but don’t expect much from him this year even if he does get a cup of coffee.
Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
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