In this section, we'll give you scouting reports on MAJOR LEAGUE CALLUPS, mostly starters that will be making their pitching debuts. If you want an update or scouting report on any call-up, be it pitcher or everyday player, feel free to ask on Twitter or email me anytime and I would be happy to oblige.
Alex McRae (RHP - PIT)
The Pirates called up 26-year-old starter Alex McRae back in late May to help provide some bullpen depth but that didn’t last long. He was sent back down on June 10 and recalled again on July 25. With Jordan Lyles being shipped to Milwaukee today (July 29), the Pirates will turn to McRae once again in what can be categorized as an “emergency” start.
The 6'2", 220-pound McRae appeared in two games for the Pirates last year, putting up ugly numbers in that very short sample. He hasn't done a lot better at Triple-A this year, though his control did come down to 3.0 (BB’s/9) from 3.8 last year at Indianapolis. He has a career WHIP of 1.43 with skills that reflect it. He's got four pitches, and has been a career starter, but he hasn't been able to dominate with those pitches, so a reliever role is likely in his future if he is ever going to succeed in the majors. He has a mid-90s fastball, a decent mid-80s slider, with a sub-par curve and changeup. He doesn't show command, thus, batters wait for his fastball. Not a high ceiling for him at this stage and let’s not forget that he’s 26 and running out of time. At Indianapolis this year, McRae was tagged for 96 hits in 89 innings for a BAA of .278 while striking out 76 batters and walking 27. He had an ERA/xERA split of 4.96/5.23 in those aforementioned innings for Triple-A Indianapolis.
It would appear that after losing eight games in a row, the Pirates have decided that they are not going to make a run and this is their first sign of “throwing in the towel”. Alex McRae does not come recommended here.
Adbert Alzolay (RHP - CHC)
Needing some reinforcements for the bullpen, the Cubs called up one of their best prospects in Adbert Alzolay. The 24-year-old righty made his major league debut out of the bullpen against the Mets and promptly threw four innings of one-hit ball with four K’s but his future is as a starter. Standing 6'0" and weighing 179 pounds, Alzolay was having a fantastic season in Triple-A Iowa, dominating batters in a way he never has before. Just compare his progress from last year at Iowa to this year at Iowa:
YEAR GS IP ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 oppBA
==== == ==== ==== ===== ==== === === =====
2018 8 39.2 4.76 1.41 6.1 2.9. 281
2019 6 32.0 3.38 0.93 12.9 1.7 .228
You simply cannot do better than the jump forward Alzolay has taken. A three-pitch starter, he can always depend upon his plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can touch 98. His curve is above-average and sits in the low-80s, while his change-up is improving and behind the others, but still gives him that third pitch. He had a strained lateral last year that kept him from pitching much. We wanted to see him step forward this year and rebound and boy, has he ever. He has a bright future even if his current role is modest. This is a good one but he’ll also be facing one of the hottest hitting teams in the majors. Does he have value as a home pooch against Max Fried? Your call but we’re still going to pass because we want to see more of him before playing him at even money.
Logan Allen (LHP - SD)
After a weekend that saw their bullpen depleted, game after game, the Padres are looking for reinforcements by calling up Logan Allen to make his major league debut and hopefully give them some fresh innings. The 22-year-old lefty has been repeating Triple-A El Paso this year, where other than a jump in his HR rate, his skill numbers improved over the 27.2 innings he pitched there in 2018. Take away his first two ugly starts to the season and Allen had a 3.76 ERA in his other 11 games started. For his career, batters have only hit .229 against him, showing his skill. The 6'3", 200-pounder has three pitches to work with, including a plus change-up that he throws with deception. His low-90s fastball plays up with late life out of a three-quarter arm slot. His third pitch is a mid-80s slider, and is just average in quality. He gets the strikeouts, but using pitchability more than dominance. He knows how to mix pitches up, he's durable, and he has the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter. He might go right back down, of course, and after 85 innings at the Triple-A level it wouldn't hurt to get a bit more development. He's only 22, so there is no rush. As a Top-10 prospect in a system loaded with prospects, Allen is a good one.
2019 STATS: El Paso (AAA) – 13 g, 13 gs, 4-3, 5.15 ERA, 57.2 IP, 3.4 BB’s/9 9.8 K’s/9, 2, 8 HR, .269 oppBA, 1.43 WHIP
Peter Lambert (RHP - COL)
With a spate of recent graduates and standard attrition around him, Lambert’s claim as the organization’s best pitching prospect isn’t an especially controversial one. Whether the pedigree can translate into palatable big league innings in the harshest of environments remains to be seen, even though he’s tamed such elements before. Lambert profiles as a command-dominant right-hander with a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and an above-average changeup that features good fade and deception. He’ll mix in two breaking balls: an 11-5 curveball and a slider that flirts with cutter classification. His strike throwing ability, projectable frame and tenacity are the stuff of a legit big-league starter and should make Rockies fans excited about his future but it’s going to have to wait because this kid is way too raw and not good enough yet to take on MLB hitters.
Peter Lambert was the club’s second-round pick in 2015, and he returned to Albuquerque at the start of this year for another go of it. Lambert faced his first true challenge as a professional at the tender age of 21 last year, yielding 31 runs in 55.1 innings after his promotion from Hartford. 11 strikeout challenged starts in the PCL to start his Triple-A career reminded us of his limitations, especially the lack of a true strikeout pitch among his four pitches. In 11 starts this year for Albuquerque, Lambert went 2-2 with a 5.07 ERA while striking out 51 batters in 60 frames and allowing 63 hits. He also surrendered 10 jacks. To his credit, Lambert has had some moments of brilliance but he was smoked in his first taste of Triple-A last year and he’s likely going to get smoked in his first taste at this level, especially against the Cubbies at Wrigley.
2019 STATS: Albuquerque (AAA) – 11 g, 11 gs, 2-2, 5.07 ERA, 60.1 IP, 16 BB/51 K’s, 10 HR, .264 oppBA, 1.31 WHIP
Note: It looks like the wind is blowing in today from centerfield at Wrigley with a posted total of 8½ so both pitchers could have weather aided good pitching lines.
Wind from the Northeast (in from center) and gentle at 9 mph (14 km/h).
Jon Duplantier (RHP - ARI)
24-year-old Jon Duplantier jumped from Double-A to the majors when he made his season debut out of the pen way back in early April. He was at that time a bullpen arm for the moment for a team in need of extra arms. The 6'4", 225-pound right-hander was said to have one of the best arms in the minors, and is everything you want to see in a pitching prospect. Despite his initial bullpen usage, Duplantier's ceiling is as a No. 2 starter and he has the skills to reach it. He has four solid pitches already, with his fastball (can reach 98 mph) and his slider already plus pitches. They give him real swing-and-miss stuff, as his career 10.5 K’s/9 shows. His curve and change-up, both in the 80s, are already average offerings, with his change-up expected to become plus soon. His control has been decent, though he needs to improve his command to take his next step.
The problem comes from his elbow soreness and biceps issues over the last year. After 136 innings in 2017, he only pitched 74 innings last year. But at age 24 the former college arm may be ready for the majors. Duplantier has been riding the Phoenix-Reno shuttle since the season started, not getting more than three appearances at either stop before having to head out of town again. Long-term, he is still projected as a starter but only once in nine total appearances has he exceeded three innings pitched. In 12 innings this year at this level, all in relief, Duplantier has a BB/K split of 5/12 with an 11% swing & miss rate to go along with a 48%/21%/31% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile. However he is used, as long as he is healthy, this is an arm to watch but we’re not on board with him here against the Mets because we don’t know how long he’ll go and the D-Backs are not in good form after being swept in Colorado in a four-game set.
2018 STATS: Jackson (AA) – 14 g, 14 gs, 5-1, 2.69 ERA, 67.0 IP, 3.8 BB’s/9, 9.1 K’s/9, 4 HR, .217 oppBA, 1.19 WHIP
Zach Plesac (RHP - CLE)
To help out with the injured Cleveland rotation, the team is calling up 24-year-old Zach Plesac to make his major league debut as their fifth starter, after previous attempts with Cody Anderson and Adam Plutko did not go as planned. The 6'3", 220-pound righty leads with a good fastball/changeup combo, using a repeatable delivery. That fastball is only low-to-mid 90s, and is just average, but he gets good movement and it works for him. His changeup is a mid-80s offering that is also just average. He has a slider and curve, but both are sub-par offerings or more works in progress than reliable pitches. So while Plesac is athletic, and he can locate his fastball well, and he keeps his walks down, the book on him was that with no plus pitches and not enough reliable secondaries, he was a No. 5 or No. 4 starter at best. He is not listed among Cleveland's top prospects as a result. That said, his 2019 has gone as well as anyone could have hoped. Repeating Double-A Akron to start the year, he made quick work of Eastern League batters in truly dominating fashion. The organization moved him to Triple-A Columbus where he did even better, albeit in only three starts. If he can take his already good control and move it into great control, his average pitches can succeed even in the majors without causing too much damage if they get hit. In his minor league career, batters only hit .230 against him, so something is working. Now we get to see how much of it can work against major leaguers. While the price on him is good today, he’ll be pitching at Fenway against the Red Sox and that’s a scary proposition for a kid who started the year in Double-A. Cannot be recommended.
2019 STATS: Columbus (AAA) – 3 g, 3 gs, 3-0, 2.25 ERA, 20.0 IP, 0.5 BB’s/9l, 9.9 K’s/9, 2 HR, .203 oppBA, 0.80 WHIP
Akron (AA) – 6 g, 6 gs, 1-1, 0.96 ERA, 37.1 IP, 1.4 BB’s/9, 8.2 K’s/9, 0 HR, .176 oppBA, 0.77 WHIP
Taylor Hearn (LHP - TEX)
The native Texan is one of the most highly touted prospects in the Rangers system after being acquired as the headliner in the deal that sent Keone Kela to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hearn’s first year in the minors began in 2015 when he spent time between Rookie Ball and Short-Season in the Nationals organization. Hearn made a combined 11 starts, 12 appearances in total and threw 48 innings striking out 45 hitters. A fairly successful debut in pro ball saw him post a 3.56 ERA and a strikeout rate just under 1 per inning.
In 2016 Hearn once again saw some time in Rookie Ball but also made the jump to Single-A spending time with both the Nationals and Pirates Single-A clubs. All together Hearn made 18 appearances, 7 of which were starts. His strikeout rate skyrocketed to 13.1 per 9 innings and posted a 2.44 ERA in 51.2 innings. In 2017 Hearn jumped to the Pirates High-A affiliate, making 17 starts in 18 appearances. He racked up 106 K’s in just 87.1 innings and showed an improving ability to miss bats with a 1.16 WHIP.
Hearn spent all of 2018 at the Double-A level mostly with the Pirates affiliate but also got 5 starts in Frisco. In total, he made 24 starts throwing a career-high 129 innings. With the Pittsburgh affiliate, Altoona, Hearn managed a 1.08 WHIP and a 3.12 ERA. His time in Frisco was a bit rougher with a 5.04 ERA and a WHIP over 1.50. Hearn is most noted for his overpowering fastball from his 6’5″ frame that sits mid-90’s. However he’s still is working on developing his offspeed and breaking ball with neither being much above average. His changeup gains effectiveness purely because of how dominant his fastball is against minor league hitters. Hearn did get some work in Spring Training this year making 3 appearances in relief and throwing 4 innings. He struggled giving up 5 earned runs on 5 hits a couple of which were home runs. There are questions about his long-term ability as a starter lacking a great arsenal of pitches and at this level, you can’t come in with a fastball only and expect to blow people away. Needs more seasoning and cannot be recommended at this time, especially making his debut against a Mariners team that has hit 56 jacks in 27 games and sit dead red.
Nick Margevicius - LHP - San Diego
Pitchers jumping from High-A to the major leagues is something we rarely see. Having not even faced competition in the upper-minors yet, Nick Margevicius, a good-but-not-great prospect (FanGraphs tabs his future value as average) who the Padres saw enough promise from him in camp to put him in the big league rotation, will make his MLB debut against the Giants.
A left-hander out of Rider University, where he put up a 3.18 ERA in 229 college innings, he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. His pro-debut saw him yield dominant results across two levels (1.31 ERA, 48 IP, 8 BB, 62 K’s), included with a big strikeout boost when he left the college ranks. He started the 2018 season at Low-A Fort Wayne where he continued his success (3.07 ERA, 76 IP, 9 BB, 87 K’s), earning him the promotion to High-A Lake Elsinore, where he finished out the season (4.30 ERA, 58.2 IP, 8 BB, 59 K’s). In Spring Training, Margevicius fared well too with 12 IP, a 4.50 ERA, 4 BB, 12 K’s.
Margevicius has the qualities of a finesse lefty. His fastball sits in the 88-to-90 mph range, touching 91, with above-average armside movement and riding life when he’s up in the zone. He will mix an infrequent cutter to righties in the mid-80s, showing pitchability and knowing when to change looks at the heater. His velocity isn’t something we’ll typically see in today’s game and it’s something we keep seeing less and less of with upcoming prospects. Out of 265 pitchers that threw a four-seamer and accumulated at least 10 innings, only 11 pitchers sat lower than what Margevicius did with his 89.9 MPH four-seamer on March 19th.
Bryse Wilson - RHP - Atlanta
This time last season, Bryse Wilson was preparing to break minor league camp with the Braves High-A affiliate. He accelerated quickly through the Braves system last season, even garnering a late-season look, including a masterful performance in his debut against the Mets. Wilson went from being the poor man’s Mike Soroka to his own man overnight. He added velocity to his fastball and improved the plane and movement of the pitch, which caused the fastball to go from average to plus. His secondaries are sharp and poised to collect strikeouts this year. His one big issue climbing so fast was struggles with his fastball command for the first time in his career. However, this spring, command has looked wonderful. So much so, he earned a spot in the Braves rotation.
2018 STATS: Atlanta (MLB) – 3g, 1gs, 1-0, 6.43 ERA, 7.0 IP, 7.7 BB’s/9, 7.7 K’s/9, 0 HR, .276 oppBA
Gwinnett (AAA) – 5g, 3gs, 3-0, 5.32 ERA, 22.0 IP, 1.2 BB’s/9, 11.5 K’s/9, 6 HR, .233 oppBA
Mississippi (AA) – 15g, 15gs, 3-5, 3.97 ERA, 77.0 IP, 3.0 BB’s/9, 10.4 K’s/9, 3 HR, .250 oppBA
Florida (A+) – 5g, 5gs, 2-0, 0.34 ERA, 26.2 IP, 2.4 BB’s/9, 8.8 K’s/9, 0 HR, .167 oppBA
Dakota Hudson - RHP - St. Louis
24-year-old Dakota Hudson showed enough in a bullpen role last year with St. Louis, and then striking out 20 of the 85 batters faced in spring training while only walking six of them, that he was named the fifth starter for the Cardinals. Hudson is a 6'4", 185-pound right-hander who has had decent success as a starter in the minors. He doesn't get the big strikeout numbers, relying more on inducing weak contact. His mid-90s fastball is plus, with a late sink. His slider and curve are both average, and he is working on improving his change-up. In the minors he got strikeout rates in the 7s (per nine), and as he settles into the majors, his pitching skills could solidify into a mid-rotation arm. He won't be an ace, but an inning-eating guy in the back of the rotation provides value too. Against Brandon Woodruff and the Crew today, we don’t see any value and will therefore use a wait and see approach.
St.Louis (MLB) – 26g, 0gs, 4-1, 2.63 ERA, 27.1 IP, 5.9 BB’s/9, 6.3 K’s/9, 0 HR, .196 oppBA, 1.35 WHIP
Memphis (AAA) – 19g, 19gs, 13-3, 2.50 ERA, 111.2 IP, 3.1 BB’s/9, 7 K’s/9, 1 HR, .254 oppBA, 1.29 WHIP