Baseball's best prospects are starting to find their way onto major-league rosters as teams try to shore up weaknesses and/or find out exactly what they have before trading season. Within the past few days alone, perhaps baseball's best hitting prospect (Eric Hosmer) and best defensive prospect (Jose Iglesias) received their call to the majors.
The Kansas City Royals promoted power-hitting first baseman Hosmer, who was batting .439 at Triple-A Omaha and who some claim is the best all-around positional prospect in the game (though Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have their supporters), months ahead of schedule. And the Red Sox just summoned slick-fielding Jose Iglesias, the defender extraordinaire.
More top young players will get their call in the coming weeks, with some promotions expected to come around the All-Star break, once the threat of speeding up the arbitration clock has expired. The Royals, a small-market team, should be commended for making the early call for Hosmer. It may cost them financially but they also have a lot to gain on the field. "He really has no weaknesses,'' one National League executive said. "He should be an All-Star year after year, a guy who hits 30 home runs and bats .300''
Iglesias is more of a one-dimensional young star. But his call-up gives the Red Sox first-hand knowledge about his readiness in the weeks before star Mets shortstop Jose Reyes could be placed on the trade market, a
"He has a great glove,'' the NL executive said about Iglesias. "But I don't know if he can hit.'' That executive brought up the name Rey Ordoñez, the symbol of the great-field, little-hit shortstop over the past couple decades but concluded Iglesias (who was batting .253 at Triple-A Pawtucket with no extra base hits) would become more productive at-bat than Ordoñez.
The promotions of Hosmer and Iglesias are a good time to check in on baseball's best prospects. Here is a closer look at 14 of the best remaining in the minors.
• In addition to the teams (the Cardinals, Giants, Brewers, Twins, Red Sox, Mariners)
• If Atlanta's Derek Lowe could become trade bait by midseason, he helped his value with a big win over the Phillies. The Braves, who have excellent pitching at the major-league and Triple-A levels, are looking like a threat in what appears to be baseball's toughest division.
• Word is, the Mets are getting more interest in their minority stake or sale than one might expect. Also, the team is being said to be valued at about $1 billion, above the $750-million initial estimate -- though with the Wilpons intending to retain control, the eventual sale price may not reflect the $1 billion value. Stevie Cohen, a friend of the Wilpons, has long been regarded as a natural buyer. But he's been getting some unwanted publicity lately, with a couple of his traders at his SAE Capital pleading guilty to insider trading (though there is no evidence of any tie to Cohen himself).
• The Mets haven't released the full result of Chris Young's shoulder MRI, which is worrisome, though they are expressing some optimism because they say it's not the exact problem that sidelined Young for most of the 2010 season. The Mets did put him on the disabled list, though.
• Andre Ethier's 30-game hitting streak was stopped by Mets spot starter Dillon Gee and a couple relievers after Young, who does not have a good history vs. Ethier (six home runs in 29 at-bats, a .414 batting average), was scratched.
• Justin Verlander joined Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle as active pitchers with two no-hitters with his second such gem on Saturday against the Blue Jays. One of the most impressing things about Verlander's game was him throwing consecutive pitches of 99 and 100 mph to the last batter he faced.
• The Rangers hope Leonys Martin will help them sometime this year. The Reds were among several other teams to bid on the speedy centerfielder.
• Congrats to Mike Scioscia on his 1,000th victory. He is arguably the majors' best manager.
• Kyle McClellan is off to a 5-0 start as Adam Wainwright's rotation replacement in St. Louis after positing a perfect 4-0 record in spring. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is performing his usual magic.
• Best wishes to the White Sox' Jake Peavy, who worked hard to return after shoulder surgery and has his first start Wednesday.