Ray's Ramblings - Rookies, Kluber & Brewers
Will the White Sox be calling up Jimenez or Kopech any time soon? Certainly doesn't sound like it. The Indians called up Mejia, but Ray explains why it might be too early to get excited. What will the Brewers do with Thames, Aguilar, Braun and Santana? Just how good is Corey Kluber? Is it time to panic with the Astros' Charlie Morton?
WHITE SOX JIMENEZ/KOPECH UPDATE
Here are the quotes from GM Rick Hahn as related by Scott Merkin. It doesn’t sound like we’re likely to see each of the White Sox elite young prospects in short order.
On Eloy Jimenez… "I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Eloy is going to stop in Charlotte. So those thinking his next stop is Chicago haven’t been paying attention to what the developmental plan is for him."
On Michael Kopech… "He’s getting closer and it’s not going to surprise me seeing him here at some point in the not too distant future but he’s not there yet." Further. “…if we wanted to drop them in the 'pen and use them for one or two innings every so often," said Hahn. "That's not what we are trying to do. We are trying to develop a front-end starter in Michael's instance."
On both… "We don’t have answers to that right now. There continues to be various developmental matters that each of them are working on. All I can say is we are trying to put them in the best position to have long term success… It was all baseball. It’s never been the arbitration three years from now. It’s been about baseball."
First, I don’t at all believe that line about them not worrying about service time. It doesn’t matter much at this point though as we are now past the Super 2 date.
As for the rest…
Jimenez has been crushing pitching at Double-A (.319-10-41-32 with a .939 OPS in 48 games), but as you can tell from the statement above he’s not skipping Triple-A so he’s obviously a ways away from the big-leagues. With the White Sox getting close to a return from Avisail Garcia (ankle) – he’s starting his rehab work Tuesday and should return next week at some point – there will be less pressure to elevate Jimenez unless Nick Delmonico and that broken hand of his causes even more time missed than expected.
Kopech has electric stuff, but he also has bouts of wildness. In his last two starts, covering eight innings, he’s walked nine batters. Nine. In 5-of-7 outings he’s walked at least four batters. That does not sound like a guy who should be starting in the big leagues. He’ll continue to work on his changeup and his control in the minors. Flat out, he’s just not ready, and there have to be growing concerns that he might indeed be best served working out of the bullpen as a right-handed version of Josh Hader.
INDIANS PROMOTE MEJIA
The Indians are in first place in the AL Central, but they have some catching woes at the moment.
Robert Perez was hit on the hand by a pitch. X-rays were negative and the team believes he might be able to avoid the DL. That injury led the team to call up the best hitting catching prospect in baseball in Francisco Mejia. Don’t start a stampede to the waiver-wire though folks as it sounds like the promotion could be a short one for Mejia. "We'll carry three catchers tonight and give [Perez] another day," manager Terry Francona said. "If he's able to be OK [on Tuesday], then we can send Mejia back. If not, we'll have to DL [Perez].” Even if Perez does hit the DL it doesn’t sound like it would be a long-term stay, so here is what you need to know.
Yan Gomes is the starting catcher. He has a hit in 7-straight games. He has five RBI his last three games. He’s hitting well, and he generally grades out well in the defensive metrics.
Mejia has a great bat yet he has had an absolutely horrid season at Triple-A posting a .214/.271/.333 slash line through 50 games. His last seven games he’s been blazing, finally, hitting .357 with a .929 OPS and he also has 10 hits in 11 outings. He’s finally swinging well in what has been a terribly disappointing effort to this point.
Mejia isn’t an addition in mixed leagues at that moment. Even if he sticks for now, if the injury to Perez sends him to the DL, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Mejia is expected to take over the bulk of catching duties with the Indians.
NOTE: MEJIA WAS SENT BACK DOWN THE TRIPLE-A ON TUESDAY.
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BREWERS AND THAMES
Eric Thames is back for the Brewers. He appeared in 22 games earlier this season before hurting his thumb, and in those 74 plate appearances he had slugged seven homers with a .351 OBP and a .976 SLG. Amazing to me how many folks think he isn’t going to play much. Folks, he’s gonna play. “I don’t have a set thing in mind… there’s nothing set in stone…” said manager Craig Counsell. Thames figures to see a good deal of the righties the team faces. Here are the impressive numbers against righties since his return to the big leagues last season: 32 homers, 65 RBI, 81 runs scored in 426 at-bats (504 PAs).
So, what does this mean for all involved? Let’s make some guesses.
Ryan Braun has a hit in 5-straight games. During that time he’s produced eight hits including a double, a triple, two homers and has seven RBI. That runs pushes his June effort to a .412 wOBA and 160 wRC+. Would be crazy to bench him if he’s healthy. That’s a huge if of course.
Jesus Aguilar has been great, so much so that people have forgotten just how good Thames has been. Aguilar has hit 11 homers with a .890 OPS in 58 games pushing his totals since the start of last season to .273-27-89-71 with a .858 OPS over 508 plate appearances. Those are good numbers indeed, but note that Thames has a .889 OPS since the start of last season which is actually better than the mark of Aguilar. Both men will play, and with Aguilar owning a .786 OPS against righties in his career we will likely see a lot of Thames against righties.
Domingo Santana has a .217 wOBA over his last 22 plate appearances with no runs and no RBI. A season after bashing 30 homers with 15 steals, Domingo has three homers and one steal. That’s brutal. The walks are down. The strikeouts are up, and his OPS is down almost exactly .200 points at .679. He doesn’t seem likely to face any lefties at this point given his .352 OPS against them this season. He stands to lose a good deal of playing time since, don’t forget, Thames can play first base and the outfield.
So, I see this still being a muddled situation, as it has been since the club brought in Cain/Yelich. Braun will be rested a bit to maintain health. Thames will sit against lefties. Aguilar will sit against some righties. Santana might sit a lot against everyone.
It’s messy, and none of the four guys highlighted has the look of being likely to play every single game the rest of the way.
KLUBER IS A HOSS
From Elias Sports…
Corey Kluber has 56 strikeouts and just 1 walk in 8 starts since the beginning of May. According to @EliasSports, that’s the most strikeouts with 1 or fewer walks over an 8-game span since the mound moved to its current distance in 1893.
IS MORTON HURT?
Charlie Morton has five HBP and seven walks his last two starts covering nine innings.
Read that line again.
He’s a total disaster at the moment.
If you still own him, trade him immediately. The current ratios (2.82 ERA and 1.12 WHIP) are going to go up, which is pretty much a lockdown given. Given his work the last two outings, and the list you are about to read, I don’t know how you couldn’t be extremely concerned if you owned Morton. Here is that injury/inning list.
Tommy John surgery
Hip, sports hernia
Please deal Morton now if you own him… and don’t go trading for him.
You can hear Ray, Monday through Friday, on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Ray is on The Fantasy Drive 7-10 PM EST M/TU/TH/F and 8-10 Weds, and he’s also on the Guru Elite Show Thursday from 2-4 PM EST. You can follow Ray on Twitter at @baseballguys.