Should we be surprised that minor league prospects are skipping Triple-A?

Kyle Schwarber has 17 Triple-A, 58 Double-A and 71 Single-A (low-A-high combined) minor league games on his resume. The Chicago Cubs and fantasy baseball owners hope there isn’t a need to add to those totals. With Miguel Montero headed to the disabled list (thumb), reports say the 22-year-old 2015 MLB Future’s Game MVP and big bat will rejoin the Cubs on Friday. Act fast on those fantasy baseball waiver wires.

But, as I discussed in a Futures Game blog earlier this week, Schwarber’s second promotion to the bigs is a microcosm of a growing trend of minor league prospects earning the MLB bump without too much, if any, seasoning at the Triple-A level.

In the days leading up to the All-Star game, I spoke with Frank Thomas (skipped AAA before joining the White Sox) and Gerrit Cole (played at AAA) to get their thoughts on this new crop of talent skipping Triple-A.

“The Pirates believe going level-to-level," Cole, who had 13 Triple-A starts before promotion, said. "We don’t jump guys. I think that process is important. I’m a big fan of hitting every level. You’re not going to get any worse by spending more time in the minor leagues and honing your craft. Up here (in the majors), it’s really results driven and that can take some guys off their game.”


But what about starting pitchers adding miles to their arm with a noticeable increase in elbow injuries?

“It’s part of the development," Cole said. "Sooner or later you’re going to have to grab innings somewhere, build that stamina, build that workload and get your body prepared for 200 innings through the dog days of summer.”

“When I came up most of the great prospects were stuck in Double-A,” Thomas, who hit 18 HR in 109 Double-A games, said.  “Triple-A was more for journeyman guys that they could bring up or down at a moment’s notice; that’s already been there and wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”

Thomas said he’s not so focused on the current prospects like the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and Diamondbacks’ Peter O’Brien, but first-year players who will qualify for Rookie of the Year honors.

“Right now Joc Pederson is really showing me something," Thomas said. "These guys, first year players, this kid Correa from the Astros, I mean those are players I’m watching right now. {The Astros} are definitely shocking the world. They’re coming out of nowhere. No one saw this coming this year.”