Minor League Baseball player promotion season has begun

Mar 4, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Alex Blandino (89) bats during the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Every season after minor league baseball has their league All Star games, a rash of promotions occur across the minor leagues.

In the last two weeks, all but the Triple-A minor league baseball All Star games have been played for each full-season league. Typically, following those games, teams will promote players who are producing well.

First we’ll take a look at a few promotions that have already been announced in the last few days, starting with hitters and then covering pitchers, and last we’ll look at a few that could be coming soon from their respective teams:

Brett Cumberland, C, Atlanta Braves

The Braves drafted the switch-hitting Cumberland out of Cal-Berkeley in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft. Cumberland is working on his skills behind the plate, but his ability to hit has certainly come through this year, hitting .263/.432/.531 with 15 doubles and 10 home runs. He has been hit by pitch an incredible 25 times this season. He recently was promoted from low-A Rome to high-A Florida.

Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Hays was a powerful hitter with Jacksonville that many thought would go early in the 2nd round and fell to the Orioles in the middle of the 3rd round instead. He’s shown that power this season as he’s hit .328/.364/.592 with 15 doubles, 3 triples, and 16 home runs for high-A Frederick before getting promoted to AA Bowie recently.

Michael Chavis, 3B, Boston Red Sox

Chavis has struggled to live up to his first round pedigree since being a first round draft pick in 2014 out of high school in Georgia. This season has unlocked the power everyone raved about when he was drafted, as he’s hit .318/.388/.641 with 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 17 home runs before being promoted recently to AA Portland.

Alex Blandino, SS, Cincinnati Reds

Drafted out of Stanford in the first round in 2014, Blandino was expected to be a shortstop that could hit along with playing high level defense. He quickly ascended to AA Pensacola by the end of 2015, but he stalled there in 2016 and opened 2017 there. His bat showed much better this season, as he hit .259/.374/.462 with 22 doubles, 6 home runs, and 3 stolen bases for AA Pensacola before being promoted recently to AAA Louisville.

T.J. Friedl, OF, Cincinnati Reds

A surprising sign last year as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada-Reno, Friedl had somehow escaped the eyes of many teams that he was actually draft eligible, and he would have been a fairly high pick if other teams had known, likely around the 3rd round, which is roughly the bonus money that he received. Friedl opened the season with low-A Dayton in his first full season, hitting .284/.378/.472 with 20 doubles, 6 triples, 5 home runs, and 14 stolen bases. He was moved up recently to high-A Daytona in the Florida State League.

Shedric Long, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

Initially drafted as a catcher in 2013, Long moved out from behind the plate, playing primarily 2B before sticking at the position this year with tremendous defensive play. His bat also has come along significantly, hitting .312/.380/.543 with 16 doubles, a triple, 13 home runs, and 6 stolen bases for high-A Daytona. He’s recently been part of a wave of promotions up to AA Pensacola.

Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Also part of the promotions to Pensacola was 2016 #2 overall selection Nick Senzel. Drafted with the knowledge that he would move through the Reds system quickly, Senzel opened 2017 in high-A Daytona, hitting .305/.371/.476 with 26 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, and 9 triples before his promotion to AA.

Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies

Rodgers was the #3 overall selection in 2015 out of high school in Florida. He spent all of 2016 with low-A Asheville. This season, Rodgers opened with high-A Lancaster in the Cal League, hitting .400/.419/.700 with 21 doubles, 3 triples, 12 home runs, and 2 stolen bases. Rodgers was recently promoted to AA Hartford in the Eastern League, which will be an interesting challenge after having two very hitter friendly environments thus far.

Monte Harrison, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Harrison was among a number of extremely toolsy outfielders drafted by the Brewers in the decade when he was selected in the 2nd round out of high school in Missouri. He has struggled since drafting to get his bat to catch up with his incredible defensive skills, with many believing Harrison to have the best arm in the entire minor leagues. With low-A Wisconsin this season, Harrison hit .265/.359/.475 with 12 doubles, a triple, 11 home runs, and 11 stolen bases. He has now been promoted to high-A Carolina in the Carolina League.

Miguel Andujar, 3B, New York Yankees

Andujar was a prominent signing when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic, and his tools were always present, but often he struggled to be consistent. After an impressive performance in 2016 and a solid Arizona Fall League, Andujar followed up with a huge improvement in 2017. He opened the season with AA Trenton, and he hit .312/.342/.494 with 23 doubles, a triple, 7 home runs, and 2 stolen bases. He’s been hitting well since his promotion to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this week over four games.

Jon Duplantier, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Armed with some of the best stuff in the entire 2016 draft, Duplantier fell to the 3rd round due to worry about his heavy college usage at Rice. Duplantier has stated that he took that as a challenge, and this season, he’s lived up to that challenge well. He opened the season in low-A Kane County in the Midwest League, and he’s posted a 1.24 ERA over 72 2/3 innings with a 0.83 WHIP and 15/78 BB/K ratio. He’s now been promoted to high-A Visalia in the Cal League.

Alec Hansen, RHP, Chicago White Sox

Coming into the college season in 2016, Hansen was considered a legit possibility for the #1 overall pick. At 6’7″ with a blazing fastball and wicked offspeed stuff, he fit the profile for sure. After a terrible draft season for Oklahoma, he went in the 2nd round to the White Sox. He opened 2017 with low-A Kannapolis, where he’s made 13 starts, throwing 72 2/3 innings, with a 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 23/92 BB/K ratio. Hansen was promoted to high-A Winston-Salem recently where he’s hoping to keep up his dominance.

Tyler Mahle, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

A 7th round selection out of high school in California, Mahle has been working his way up the Reds system until he took a big step forward in 2016 with excellent control that he’d always shown along with an increase in velocity. This season, he’s thrown the first perfect game in the Southern League in 40 years and enjoyed a season with AA Pensacola where he’s made 14 starts, throwing 85 innings with a 1.59 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 17/87 BB/K ratio. He’ll be moving up to AAA Louisville.

Merandy Gonzalez, RHP, New York Mets

After being signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Gonzalez has worked his way up the Mets short season clubs year by year. In 2017, Gonzalez is spending his first year on a full season level, opening with low-A Columbia in the South Atlantic League. He’s made 11 starts this year and thrown 69 2/3 innings, allowing a 1.55 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and a 13/65 BB/K ratio. That excellent performance has earned Gonzalez a promotion to St. Lucie in the high-A Florida State League.

Jordan Humphreys, RHP, New York Mets

Joining Gonzalez at Columbia, Humphreys was originally an 18th round selection in the 2015 draft out of high school in Florida. With the Fire Flies, Humphreys has made 11 starts, throwing 69 2/3 innings, with a 1.42 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and a 9/80 BB/K ratio. He’ll also be joining Gonzalez in the St. Lucie rotation.

Domingo Acevedo, RHP, New York Yankees

The huge Acevedo (6’7″, 240 pounds) was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic as a late signee at 18 years old, flying under the normal 16 y/o signee radar. He’s worked his way up the system while flashing tremendous raw stuff, but never putting it all together for a whole season. In 2016, Acevedo finished the season in high-A Tampa, where he opened 2017. He only made 7 starts at the level before moving quickly up to AA Trenton, where he’s made 5 starts. Between the two levels, he made 12 starts, throwing 74 2/3 innings, with a 3.25 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a 12/83 BB/K ratio. He’s already made two starts with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Zack Littell, RHP, New York Yankees

The Mariners drafted Littell in the 11th round of the 2013 draft. He’d worked his way up the Mariners system step-by-step until 2016, when he finished in high-A. The Yankees acquired him in the offseason in a prospect-for-prospect deal. The Yankees opened him in high-A Tampa, where he was absolutely dominating, making 11 starts in 13 appearances, throwing 71 1/3 innings, with a 1.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 15/57 BB/K ratio. He’s been promoted to AA Trenton, where he struck out 10 hitters and went 7 innings in his first start.

A.J. Puk, LHP, Oakland Athletics

Considered a lock for the #1 overall pick fairly deep into the 2016 collegiate season, Puk’s inconsistency ended up sliding him down to the #6 overall selection. Puk got just 30 innings of work in 2016 after a full season of pitching in college. He was assigned to high-A Stockton in the Cal League to open 2017. He made 14 appearances, 11 starts, throwing 61 innings, allowing a 3.69 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 23/98 BB/K ratio. He’s made one start so far in AA Midland in the Texas League.

Hitters

Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Baltimore Orioles – First rounder in 2015 likely to eventually move to 3B, but handling SS very well right now. Hitting .313/.341/.544 with 25 doubles, a triple, and 12 home runs for high-A Frederick.

Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox – Dominican Republic native likely to be promoted with Chavis getting the promotion to the same level at the same position. Hitting .297/.355/.569 with 17 doubles, 3 triples, and 14 home runs for AA Portland.

Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians – After an incredible 50+ game hitting streak, Mejia would have had a tough time with a follow up, but he’s having a better season this year. Hitting .358/.402/.598 with 15 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs, and 5 stolen bases with AA Akron.

Colton Welker, 3B, Colorado Rockies – Fourth round pick last season out of high school has really shown his value this season. Hitting .365/.409/.532 with 17 doubles, a triple, 6 home runs, and 5 stolen bases for low-A Asheville in the South Atlantic League.

Yordan Alvarez, 1B/LF, Houston Astros – Cuban in his first full season has been simply dominating. Hitting .360/.468/.658 with low-A Quad Cities in the Midwest League with 6 doubles, 9 home runs, and 2 steals in 32 games.

Khalil Lee, OF, Kansas City Royals – Incredibly toolsy player from the 3rd round last season has not hit for average, but that’s about it this season. Currently hitting .239/.339/.440 with 12 doubles, a triple, 11 home runs, and 16 stolen bases (though with 11 caught stealing) in low-A Lexington and doesn’t turn 19 until June 26.

DJ Peters, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – Incredible find by the Dodgers in the 4th round of 2016 has pounded baseballs. Hitting .264/.381/.504 in high-A with 12 doubles, 4 triples, and 13 home runs.

Scott Kingery, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies – 2nd rounder in 2015, hitting .302/.371/.597 with 17 doubles, 4 triples, 18 home runs, and 19 stolen bases for AA Reading.

Luis Urias, 2B, San Diego Padres – Just having turned 20 the first week of June, Urias has continued the tremendous hitting he did last season. Hitting .314/.415/.420 with AA San Antonio.

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays – Third round college pick in 2015 had a solid upside bat and is showing it this season. Hitting .339/.434/.620 with 21 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, and 4 steals at high-A Charlotte.

Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays – Part of a big duo at low-A Lansing, Bichette has been showing excellent work up the middle defensively. Hitting .388/.454/.625 with 28 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs, and 9 stolen bases.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays – The second half of the Lansing duo, and also a fellow son of a former big leaguer, Guerrero is one of the youngest players in full-season ball. Hitting .316/.407/.461 with 19 doubles, a triple, 4 home runs, and 6 stolen bases for low-A Lansing.

Carter Kieboom, SS, Washington Nationals – First rounder in 2016 has been hitting well outside of a stint on the DL. Hitting .333/.398/.586 with 10 doubles, 6 home runs, and 2 stolen bases in 29 games for low-A Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League.

Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals – Jumped up to a top 10 prospect in 2016 after a big performance, Robles started slow in 2017 but has caught fire as of late. Hitting .296/.395/.508 with 16 doubles, 4 triples, 6 home runs, and 13 stolen bases at high-A Potomac.

Pitchers

Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves – Among the youngest players in the high minors, Soroka won’t turn 20 until early August. Braves skipped the teen righty over high-A straight to AA after pitching in low-A in 2016, and he’s shown the ability to handle the level jump well. Current record is 8-3 over 13 starts and 76 2/3 innings with a 2.23 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 16/69 BB/K ratio.

Scott Moss, LHP, Cincinnati Reds – One of the seemingly endless supply of Florida Gator pitchers selected in 2016, Reds selected Moss in the 4th round in the 2016 draft. Currently has a 9-2 record over 14 starts with low-A Dayton. He’s posted a 2.37 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 26/95 BB/K ratio over 76 innings.

Austin Sodders, LHP, Detroit Tigers – College pick from UC-Riverside in 2016 in the 7th round, Sodders has shown to be more than just a typical “senior sign”. Sodders has a 7-0 record in 11 starts with low-A West Michigan in the Midwest League. Over 64 1/3 innings, he’s posted a 1.40 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and a 13/65 BB/K ratio.

Tyler Wells, RHP, Minnesota Twins – Towering righty at 6’8″, Wells was a 15th round selection in 2016 and has certainly outpitched his draft slot. He’s 4-1 over 10 starts in low-A Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League. Wells has posted a 1.89 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and a 14/80 BB/K ratio over 57 innings.

JoJo Romero, LHP, PHiladelphia Phillies – Selected from a small school in Arizona in the 4th round of the 2016 draft, Romero may turn into a boon for the Phillies scouting team. He’s shown excellent pitchability, and is doing that in his first full season this year. Romero is currently 5-1 in 12 starts with low-A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. He has thrown 71 2/3 innings with a 2.01 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a 21/76 BB/K ratio.

Ranger Suarez, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies – Venezuelan signee has been slowly progressing up the minors, but he’s taken leaps forward with his stuff this season and may be ready to move quickly. He’s got a 4-2 record at low-A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League with a 1.92 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a 23/76 BB/K ratio over 70 1/3 innings.

Logan Allen, LHP, San Diego Padres – Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel deal, Allen struggled with injuries his first two years, but his promise is shining through this season. Allen currently has a 4-4 record with low-A Fort Wayne in the Midwest League over 12 starts and 62 1/3 innings with a 2.02 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 24/75 BB/K ratio.

Eric Sauer, LHP, San Diego Padres – One of the top collegiate performers in 2016 out of Kent State, Sauer was considered a feasible pick in the top 20 at times over the spring, but the Padres got him at 25th overall. Lauer has a 2-4 record over 11 starts and 62 2/3 innings with high-A Lake Elsinore in the Cal League with a 2.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 16/76 BB/K ratio.

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