His team in the midst of a pennant race and desperately needing more production out of the third base spot, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette made a bold decision last week and called up highly regarded prospect Manny Machado from Double-A Bowie.
Drafted as a shortstop, a position he has played in the minors, Machado has the athleticism to occupy the hot corner, thus the reason he was summoned to Baltimore, which is 62-53 and owns the second wild card spot.
The third overall pick in the 2010 draft and the top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization according to MLB.com, Machado was 2-for-4 with a triple in his big league debut against Kansas City on Thursday. He followed that with two home runs and four RBI versus the Royals on Friday and a home run on Sunday. In four games, he is 6-for-16 (.375( with three home runs, seven RBI, a 1.125 slugging percentage and a 1.500 OPS.
The 20-year-old Machado, who was No. 9 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects List, has been compared to a young Alex Rodriguez, his friend and off-season workout partner. His immediate Major League success is especially impressive considering that he was in his first season at Double-A and was hitting .266 average with 11 home runs, 59 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .789 OPS.
When September 1 arrives and Major League teams are permitted to expand their rosters, an array of promising minor leaguers will get their first taste of the bigs. Many of these prospects will arrive on clubs that are not amid the pressure of a pennant race, and they will get a chance to get accustomed to life in the majors. Others, like Machado, will be counted on to offer their team a lift and perhaps even see post-season experience.
Earlier this month, the Texas Rangers called up 23-year-old corner infielder Mike Olt, a 2010 first round pick who was in his first season at Double-A Frisco. Olt batted .288 with 28 home runs, 82 RBI and a .977 OPS at Frisco. With Texas, he is 3-for-10 in five games, including a pinch-hit, walk-off single on Saturday.
With Mike Napoli on the 15-day disabled list, the Rangers hope Olt can provide depth at first base, which is also manned by Mitch Moreland and occasionally Michael Young. Olt also gives Texas a backup at third base to Adrian Beltre. Depending on how he performs, and the health of the team’s corner infielders, Olt could find himself in the playoffs for a club that has captured American League pennants in a row.
Here is a look at five top prospects who could get called up before or after rosters expand on September 1:
Dylan Bundy, Baltimore – The fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft out of high school and the top minor leaguer on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List, Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy is just 19, but last week he was promoted to Double-A Bowie, where he will make his debut this week. Bundy has a 1.92 ERA and a .182 batting average against over 18 starts between two Single-A affiliates this season. The Baltimore Sun recently reported that “club officials have been hinting at a possible late-season call-up since spring training.” If Baltimore secures a post-season spot, Bundy could give the Orioles bullpen what Tampa Bay’s David Price provided as a late-season call-up in 2008.
Wil Myers, Kansas City – MLB.com and Baseball America disagree about the prominence of the 21-year-old Myers. MLB.com currently as him ranked as their 14th best prospect while the third round pick out of high school in the 2009 draft was No. 3 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List. Regardless, Myers will likely make his Major League debut soon. The right fielder hit .343 with 13 home runs and a 1.146 OPS at Double-A Northwest Arkansas before joining Triple-A Omaha, where he has a .292 average with 20 home runs, 63 RBI and a .937 OPS in 298 at-bats. The Royals are out of pennant contention, and Myers’ promotion to the bigs would give Kansas City fans a glance at a lineup of talented young sluggers that also includes current Major Leaguers Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.
Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks – The third overall pick out of UCLA in the 2011 draft, 21-year-old right-hander made his Major League debut during a four-start stint in late June and July, when he was 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA. Chances are, he will rejoin the parent club when rosters expand. He opened the 2012 campaign at Double-A Mobile, where he logged a 1.68 ERA in eight starts before spending time at Triple-A Reno. He was sent back to Reno in late July and overall his Triple-A numbers feature a 4-1 record, a 2.85 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 60 innings.
Tyler Skaggs, Diamondbacks. If Arizona fades out of contention for a wild card spot, they could summon Bauer and Skaggs, a 21-year-old left-hander who was acquired from the Angels as the player to be named later in the 2010 Dan Haren trade. A supplemental first rounder of the Angels in 2009 out of high school, Skaggs is 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Reno after producing a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts at Double-A Mobile this year.
Jacob Turner, Marlins – Acquired before last month’s non-waiver trade deadline from Detroit for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, the 21-year-old Turner has a 2.70 ERA between three minor league stop this season (Single-A Lakeland and Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers organization and Triple-A New Orleans after joining Miami. At New Orleans, he is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts. A first round pick (ninth overall) out of high school by the Tigers in 2009, Turner is currently MLB.com’s 10th-best prospect.