When the cutoff date for a full year of service time passed last Thursday, all eyes turned to the Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant. Bryant was the number-one prospect on many people’s lists coming into the season. And if he wasn’t to start off, his torrid spring certainly shot him to the top.
The service time debate continues, and will continue to, rage on between fans and ownership. But, now that the cutoff date is in the rear view mirror, and the top prospect has been called up, lets look at a few guys who should get, and will soon be getting, The Call.
Francisco Lindor, Indians SS
After being drafted with the #8 pick in the 2011 draft, Francisco Lindor shot through the Cleveland Indians system. His defensive play is impeccable and his abilities with the glove, in large part, earned him, three consecutive trips to the All-Star Futures Game. At the ripe age of 21, he is widely considered to be the best defensive player in the minors right now.
Lindor will never be known for his offense. While he doesn’t hit for much power, Lindor consistently drives balls to all fields. He also has a fantastic eye at the plate, which has kept his strikeout total down to only 231 in 1452 career plate appearances. Lindor, from an offensive prospective, will likely be known for his speed. In 2012-2014, he stole 28, 25, and 27 bases respectively.
Lindor got off to a slow start in 2015. His average currently sits at .212. However, as soon as he starts swinging a hot bat and that average starts to come up, expect Lindor to get the call.
Addison Russell, Cubs SS
When the Cubs traded for Addison Russell as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal that sent Samardzija to Oakland, many people asked “Why?”. Well, here’s why: Russell has posted a career .300 average in the minors, he posses great offensive upside and plays decent defense. Will Russell put up Troy Tulowitzki type offensive numbers? Probably not. But, he could come close. In 954 minor-league at bats, Russell has 55 doubles, 20 triples, and 38 homers. Not to mention 43 stolen bases.
From the defensive side, he won’t be Francisco Lindor. But, he is better than Starling Castro or Javier Baez, as he has pretty good arm strength.
The big news regarding Russell is that the Cubs have moved him to second base. With Tommy La Stella going to the DL, it appears Chicago could be priming Russell for second base. With that being the case, if Russell can show he’s capable of playing second base, he could be called up sooner rather than later.
Jon Gray, Rockies SP
The question remains in Coloriado; How long are we willing to accept Kyle Kendrick as our ace? When the Rockies released Jhoulys Chacin, many people expected that move to be Gray’s ticket to the big leagues. However, that obviously did not come to pass.
Gray’s stock derives mainly from how good his stuff his. Gray possesses three above-average pitches: a sinking and tailing fastball, a power slider, and a sinking changeup.
Gray still has some work to do, mostly control-related issues. But, he has power stuff that can hit triple digits and sits in the high 90s pretty consistently. The other big question surrounding Gray is how his home ballpark will affect him. While Colorado has one of the best offenses in baseball, that ballpark doesn’t play favorites. This leads to a lot of 10-9 games. Expect Gray to be called up relatively soon as he possesses the stuff to pitch near, if not at, the top of a major-league rotation.