Where are these guys?

June 16, 2017



At one time I had a tradition that around this time of year I would post a column about players in the minors who could be promoted and be useful for fantasy teams in search of help. But with so many sites now offering stats and complete catalogues of ďinside scoopsĒ about emerging players, that kind of column seems redundant. So instead I will go in the opposite direction and talk about two players who are getting a lot fan-driven push to be promoted but in all likelihood will stay where they are for a while longer.


Scott Kingery

As I noted in March, I really liked what I saw from Kingery during spring training. When I looked at his previous minor league stats, I was very surprised he had not produced more power. I should correct that because he had displayed the power, just not over the wall. Still, I am glad to see that his strong showing this spring was not a mirage. He has been killing the ball all year and in fact led the minors in home runs for a spell. Heís not a home run hitter, per se, but I do think he is capable of hitting 20 homers and 30-40 doubles per year at his peak once he does arrive.


So with Cesar Hernandez on the shelf for at least another month, why havenít the Phillies promoted the guy who will be manning second base for them for the next decade?


A few reasons come to mind. The first is that if they promote him it will be difficult to get Hernandez at bats to showcase his trade value. Iím sure most front offices are aware of what Hernandez can do but itís always good to have recent data to either reinforce or perhaps improve that perception. The second reason is that the Phillies are not going anywhere in the standings this year. They have a few pieces that will play a part when they are ready to contend, but Freddie Galvis, Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph and Odubel Herrera playing everyday probably isnít part of that equation. One or two of them, sure, but with so many positions to fill with playoff-capable talent, thereís just no reason to rush anyone this year. Thirdly, if they delay his debut until next spring, they can not only delay his arbitration clock but be more assured that he will be largely a finished product. And there are still some things he can improve upon so itís not exactly like heís wasting his time in the minors right now.


As incredible as he was in April and May, he simply has been nowhere as good in June. He crushed the ball for an OPS in excess of 1.000 through the first two months; in June itís a respectable .772 but thatís a far cry from 1.000. The plus side is that his walk rate and strikeout rates have remained largely unchanged, and his production away from Reading (a notorious hitterís park) is as good as it is at home. So thereís lotís of good still going on, and it may be that his June slump is merely due to fatigue or just the kind of slump every payer goes through at some point during a season. Or it could be that pitchers are attacking him differently in which case he needs to make a counter adjustment. Whatever it is, thereís justification for letting him continue learning at that level.


Thereís also an argument to be made that he needs to learn these lessons at Double A, rather than at the major league level because failure in the Show could cause a cascade effect. If thereís only one thing he needs to work on Ė like laying off breaking balls outside the zone - then he can work on it at the level heís familiar with. Limiting the variables is the best way to solve problems. However, if heís promoted and facing pitchers who are far more talented and capable, he might begin to wonder if the problem is his grasp of the strikezone or the quality of the breaking balls or maybe the umps just giving him a hard time because heís a rookie, then doubts might begin to creep in. Let him learn all he can in the minors and when heís hitting .340 and crushing every pitch he lays wood to and has confidence to spare, then bring him to the Show.


Finally, and this is becoming an increasing (and in my view, unfortunate) focus of the game is that the Phillies would have to put him on the 40-man roster if they called him up in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this winter. If they donít bring him up, heís not eligible to be picked by other teams because of when he was drafted. The delay of his MLB debut wonít be limited to just this year. Weíll likely see him kill the ball next spring training, yet be sent down to Triple-A for a month to delay his arbitration clock, even as the Phillies claim he needs to ďwork on thingsĒ.†††



Amed Rosario

Like the Phillies, the Mets have suffered an injury (actually, injuries) that would seem to make it a foregone conclusion to bring up their uber-prospect.They have lost both Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker to injury and Jose Reyes isnít even hitting his rookie weight much less his current. So why not bring up Rosario who, like Kingery, has been hitting the snot out of the ball.


For one, like Kingery, Rosario killed the ball through the first two months but has fallen off considerably in June. More concerning is that his walk and strikeout rates have been deteriorating so that might be something else to work on. After two months of hitting in the neighborhood of .350 with an on base of .400 and slugging north of .500, in June he is hitting only .259 with an on base of .317 and slugging of .430. The drop itself could be the result of being unlucky on balls in play but combined with the drop in walk percentage in increase in K rate, this suggests something else might need to be addressed.


Also working against promoting Rosario is the fact that Jose Reyes has experienced horrendous luck on balls in play (.201) at the major league level despite hitting the ball as hard as he ever has so thereís a decent chance his production rebounds and the need for Super Rosario isnít as urgent.


Unlike the Phillies, the Mets do have enough play-off caliber talent on the roster to make a play-off run. Still, until they have fully recovered from all the injuries, they should proceed the same way the Phillies are. They see Rosario as the answer at short for a long time. If they are still within wild card distance at the end of July when many of their players will have recuperated, then I expect they will call up Rosario.