Despite the Internet’s best efforts, Reds SS Elly De La Cruz did not make his major league debut Tuesday night. He did, however, hit another long home run in Triple-A while the Reds won their fourth straight game. The NL Central is there for the taking. Cincinnati has a legitimate case for having the most talented roster. TJ Friedl might be headed right back to the injured list after leaving last night’s game with a tight hamstring. Friedl’s fate isn’t directly tied to Elly’s timeline by any means, but every window can be a door, right? If you’re sprightly enough? Would have to be a huge window for a guy his size. Anyway, might be today, might be tomorrow, but soon, and for a very long time, Elly De La Cruz and his cohort will make the Reds appointment viewing.
20-year-old Atlanta RHP AJ Smith-Shawver was called up yesterday. He posted a 5.11 ERA in 68.2 innings at Low-A last year, so his rise feels singular for a high-school draftee. He walked 5.11 batters per nine (13%) over that stretch. Credit to the developmental team for letting him race through the system. Feels like they’re inventing a new path in the post-Strider era. Maybe sample size is overrated on the innings-per-level basis. Just let the guy climb until he gets stopped: two or three starts per level.
With Tigers outfielders Riley Greene and Matt Vierling hitting the IL at the same, Detroit has room for 3B Justyn Henry-Malloy. Zach McKinstry has been playing well at third base, but he could shift to the outfield if they’re not comfortable with Henry-Malloy out there. On the other hand, Henry-Malloy is hitting .212 in May with a 91 wRC+. Parker Meadows is hitting .239 in May with an 83 wRC+, but he’s been zeroing in throughout the month and is slashing .289/.353/.578 with three homers and solid plate skills over his last 11 games. There’s a small chance we see 21-year-old Colt Keith at some point this year. He’s slashing .329/.399/.576 with nine home runs in 41 games at Double-A.
Michael Grove has been mentioned as the likeliest option for Saturday’s open start, but Dodgers RHP Emmet Sheehan has made a strong case to step in for Gavin Stone, who couldn’t command his fastball during his major league starts. They’ve always got options, of course; they just don’t have any at Triple-A right now if you’re skilling past Stone. At Double-A, they have Sheehan, Kyle Hurt myself today, Nick Nastrini, River Ryan, Landon Knack, Nick Frasso, and newly promoted Ben Casparius, the friendly ghost. It’s not uncommon for teams to pile up pitchers, especially at a lower level, to protect each other’s arms and develop together, but the Dodgers probably can’t afford to keep seven legitimate starting prospects on the cusp at the same level for long. Their injury bug is the hungry caterpillar burning holes through their pitching staff.
Dodgers OF Jonny DeLuca is smelling his first major league opportunity, hitting .393 with three home runs in his second week in Triple-A. He now has 13 home runs and 11 steals in 45 games across two levels, posting an 18.3 percent strikeout rate at each level.
Pirates 2B Tucupita Marcano is no longer a prospect, but it’s fun to see him settling into an every shortstop gig that will likely expire when Oneil Cruz returns. Marcano can play just about anywhere, so it shouldn’t knock him out of the lineup if he can keep slashing .333/.357/.741 with a 10.7 percent strikeout rate as he has for the last eight games.
Mariners OF Alberto Rodriguez is repeating High-A after posting a 108 wRC+ last year, and he’s been making the most of it, slugging .897 over his last 14 games. His relatively modest topside won’t grant him an automatic chance in a competitive outfield, but he’s an interesting pickup in deep leagues while he’s raking. Pretty easy drop when you see something else.
You don’t need anyone to tell you Nationals OF James Wood is good, but it’s nice to see he’s in Double-A already at 20 after slashing .293/.392/.580 with eight homers and eight steals in 42 High-A games. He’d been locked in for the two weeks prior to his promotion, slugging .767 with more walks (21.8%) than strikeouts (20%). He’s 1-for-8 in two Double-A games, so get those offers in now : )
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