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.
Ariel Jurado (RHP- TEX)
Ariel Jurado is not close to being major-league ready and gets the call here as an emergency starter that will very likely be sent back down afterward. Jurado’s delivery and command are good, but the fastball is still low-90s at best, and he has yet to find a major-league-quality breaking ball. His changeup flashes plus at times but it might not be a major league out pitch if all it does is flash. This is a profile that has been tested by Single A and Double-A only and Jurado hasn’t passed it yet. Jurado made six starts at Double A Frisco this year after starting 27 games for the same team last year. Last season he posted a 4.59 ERA and while his numbers are predictably better this year (2.37 ERA), it’s a small sample and he only has 18 K’s in 35 Double-A innings. If dude can’t whiff Double-A batters, how in the world is he going to get out MLB hitters? Ariel Jurado was ranked the 12th best prospect in the Rangers organization before the season started. That means that 10 starters should probably get the call before him but Jurado is first up because he is the most “available” right now. The White Sox are very tempting to play here at a pick-em but they also have a pitcher capable of giving up 10 runs. Playing over the total is probably the right play here.
Anthony Banda (LHP - TB)
Prior to being a part of the trade that sent Steven Souza to Arizona, Banda had been the Diamondbacks’ No. 7 prospect. He debuted last season to mixed results, and started 2018 with a primary goal of working on his control. Walks remain the central concern in his profile, as he has continued to struggle with the free passes thus far in Triple-A Durham, and has a career minor league walk rate of close to 4 BBB per nine in 680.2 minor-league innings. As a LHP armed with a mid-90s fastball, a plus curve, and a career strikeout rate of 8.9/K’s/9 covering various farm stops, the upside and appeal is obvious. He has logged nearly 150 IP in every pro season since being drafted in the 10th round in 2012 out of San Jacinto Community College, so durability isn’t a major concern. Considering the current rebuilding state of the Tampa organization, Banda will be given the opportunity to succeed if he can find the plate with greater consistency. If not, then more time in Triple-A this year can be expected. He makes his debut today (May 15) in KC against a Royals nine that is one of the best teams in the game at not striking out. That’s a problem for Banda if he can’t find the plate but the good news for him is that his cound opponent, Ian kennedy is pure rat shit. Tough call to go with Banda but a tougher one to play Kennedy. We’ll watch from the rail.
Banda’s 2018 STATS:
Durham (AAA) – 7 gs, 4-2, 3.50 ERA, 36 IP, 4.0 BBs/9, 11 K’s/9, 1 HR, .262 oppBA, 1.47 WHIP
Freddy Peralta (RHP – MIL)
Continuing to fly under the radar, Freddy Peralta made a case for more attention in 2017. Promoted to Double-A just after his 21st birthday in June, he finished the season with 63.2 IP at Biloxi where he dominated Southern League hitters. One reason for the lack of hype is that Peralta has no show-stopping pitches. The fastball tops out at just 92, but he cuts it, runs it, sinks it, and can move it all around the zone. The changes in speed and movement allow him to keep hitters off balance. He is especially good at locating up in the zone to put hitters away. He also has a potentially plus slider with good late bite that he throws 84-86. He is looking for a reliable third pitch and can flash average with both a curve and change, but neither pitch has any consistency right now. He finished the 2017 season throwing 120 innings and posting 169 strikeouts across two levels. At Triple-A Colorado Springs of the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League this season, Peralta has whiffed 46 batters in 34 innings covering seven starts. He also went 5-1 with an excellent PCL ERA of 3.31.This is a kid that has moved up the ranks rapidly, as he was in Double-A Ball last year and less than a year removed will make his MLB debut at Coors Field. At a big price against Jonathan Gray, he might be worth a bet. Your call.
Career Minor League stats:
92 G, 67 GS, 400 IP, 332 hits, 20 HR, 162 BB, 470 K’s, .219 BAA, 1.22 WHIP
David Hess (RHP - BAL)
David Hess is a 6’2”, 180-pound right-hander out of Tennessee Technological University, drafted in the fifth round in 2014. The 24-year-old has a four-pitch mix with no plus, swing-and-miss offering. His fastball is his best pitch, but it’s an average offering that comes in the low-90s and results in a lot of fly balls. The rest of his repertoire (slider, curve, change) are all below-average to fringe-average, with the changeup likely his second best. Hess was third in strikeouts in the Eastern League last year, and posted a respectable 3.85 ERA, but that K-rate is unlikely to hold up at the highest level. While Hess has been a starter in the minors and the team likely still projects him there, the profile makes more sense coming out of the pen, where he can get a little more ginger on his stuff. He’s up now to start one of the two games of a DH and will likely head back to Triple-A Norfolk in short order.
Hess’ career line: 463.1 IP, 4.14 ERA, 7.2 K’s/9, 2.4 BB’s/9 45 HR, .254 oppBA, 1.32 WHIP.
Domingo German (RHP – NYY)
Jordan Montgomery will be shut down from throwing for two to three weeks, and then hopefully begin rebuilding arm strength for a return. Domingo German relieved Montgomery in his abbreviated May 1 start, and all indications are that his four-inning appearance (four hits, 4/1 K/BB) cemented the opportunity to continue in Montgomery's rotation slot for the near term. Domingo now makes his MLB starting debut here after pitching 14 innings in relief this year and 17 innings in relief last year.
Originally signed by the Marlins in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic, German was shipped to the Yankees in the Martin Prado trade before the 2015 season. He then missed 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, but since getting back on the field in late 2016, has climbed through the upper minors quickly before making his MLB debut in 2017. Last year, he was slated for the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre rotation, but was called upon as one of the extra arms needed after C.C. Sabathia went on the DL and the bullpen was taxed. German's got the stuff to succeed as a starter at the highest level. He throws a four-seam fastball and sinker that both top out at 97 mph,
His fastball has two-plane movement and is lethal when located, running away from lefties and back over the outer third against righties. His command slips due to mechanical inconsistency (release point) or just struggling to harness all the movement. His slider is nasty with a hard break when it’s right. It is a swing-and-miss pitch particularly versus righties. His changeup is his third pitch but he maintained his arm speed well enough to induce soft contact with the pitch. His feel was inconsistent, and while it is not likely to miss bats, it plays up when mixed with two bat-missers in his fastball and slider. He only needs his change to be average to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
German has 18 K’s in 14 innings this year but one must consider that it came in relief. Relievers always get more K’s than starters because they only face a handful of batters and give it everything from the first pitch on while starters have to pace themselves. What concerns us is German’s 29%/34%/37% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile that is playing with fire at Yankees Stadium. That is some hard hit balls and not a lot of grounders. He also posted a 1.47 WHIP over his 14 frames and we would not recommend getting behind him when he’s favored like he is today (May 6) in his starting debut.
2017 stats at Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA):
14 g, 13 gs, 8-6, 2.88 ERA, 76.1 IP, 9.6 K’s/9, 3.7 BB’s/9 9 HR, .222 oppBA
Adam Plutko (RHP - CLE)
At 6’3” and 200 pounds, Plutko’s fringe-average offerings combine with above-average command have allowed him to move up the ladder as a pitchability guy. The 26-year-old’s fastball is a low-90s average offering, but he can spot the pitch to both sides of the plate. His best secondary offering is a plus change that he’ll throw to both righties and lefties. Plutko rounds out his arsenal with two distinct breaking balls in a slider and curve, both fringe-average though the slider is ahead. His repertoire plays up because he knows how to sequence his pitches well and has a smooth, clean delivery that can log innings. The warts, however, complicate the ultimate profile projection, as batters have been able to square Plutko when they connect and much of the contact has resulted in elevated contact. He gave up 24 HR in 135 innings last season alongside a .295 oppBA with 53 walks issued. He had a brief taste in the majors last year did not fare well (5 H, 3 ER, 1 HRA, 3/2 K/BB in 3.2 IP). His numbers this year in 30 minor league innings are better, as he’s allowed just 18 hits and three jacks while striking out 25 batters and walking seven. That said, we have to consider that the weather has been cold all along the East Coast and Plutko may have benefitted from such. He gets the call today only because the Indians are playing a DH and will likely be sent back down afterward. Unless those minor league numbers this year are legit, and we doubt they are, Plutko is not playable as a favorite.
Plutko’s minor league line with five different teams over four years is:
543.2 IP, 3.71 ERA, 3.5 BB’s/9, 7.6 K’s/9, 64 HR, .245 oppBA, 1.16 WHIP.
Nick Kingham (RHP -PIT)
Kingham was Pittsburgh’s No. 10 prospect entering the season. This is his ninth pro campaign after being drafted in 2010 out of high school and 2018 has showcased his best skills. In four starts with Triple-A Indianapolis, Kingham has put up a 1.59 ERA, 10.7 K’s/9 while walking only seven and striking out 27 in 22 frames. That has earned him a short-term promotion necessitated by the Pirates’ double-header on April 25th. As matters currently stand, the fifth-starter spot in Pittsburgh is occupied by Steven Brault (with Joe Musgrove also on schedule for a May return), so it will likely take injuries or other circumstances for further starting opportunities with the big club to materialize. If he can maintain his increased skills, though, then Kingham will continue to be first in line if and when those spot starts arise. Aside from his good control, Kingham throws strikes with all three pitches thanks to a clean and repeatable delivery. He throws his changeup with the same arm speed and good deception. Kingham’s best pitch is his curveball. He also throws a plus changeup that helps him to keep left-handed hitters off balance in the batter’s box. Kingham has an easy delivery that he can be duplicated rather effortlessly, this is a big reason he is a strong strike thrower and has great control. Kingham is able to be effective by keeping batters uncomfortable and making it difficult to read his pitches. Kingham spent the entirety of 2017 pitching for the Triple-A Indianapolis where he started 20 games, 19 of which were starts, logging 113.1 innings for the Indians. In those 113.1 innings , heallowed eight home runs, he showed the great control he has had throughout his minor league career averaging 2.30 BB/9, and he averaged 7.39 K/9. This led to Kingham owning a 4.13 ERA and a healthy 3.59 FIP at Triple-A. Typically, the Pirates do not rush starters to the bigs but they say this kid is major league ready and after TJS surgery back in 2015, he’s never looked better. He’ll go up against Luke Weaver in his MLB debut today (April 29) and he’s a nice pooch maybe worth considering but in no way would we recommend paying a price to fade him. Watch closely.
His career minor league numbers spanning 721.2 IP are as follows:
3.37 ERA, 2.5 BB’s/9, 7.7 K’s/9, 1.18 WHIP
2018 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) – 4 gs, 1.59 ERA, 22.2 IP, BB/K split 7/27, 0 HR, .190 BAA, 1.18 WHIP
2017 STATS: Indianapolis (AAA) – 20 gs, 4.13 ERA, 113.1 IP, 2.3 BB’s/9, 7.4 K’s/9, 8 HR, .270 oppBA, 1.31 WHIP
Eric Lauer (SD – LHP)
Eric Lauer may come as advertised, polished, mature, calm, collected, and with an obvious plan on the mound and consistency in his mechanics and command. The former first round draft pick (2016) out of Ohio’s Kent State University can carve up lineups and his free, easygoing demeanor on the mound is a sight to see considering he’s still just 21 years old. Lauer sits 89-92 mph but can touch a bit higher than that; see him throw and you feel there’s a lot more in the tank should he choose to exert himself and reach back for it, too, though he rarely does. The lefty has command of four pitches. Lauer’s fastball shows cutting action and can wreak havoc on right-handed batters at times just as lefties. He couples it well with a changeup that has good arm-side fade and some depth, and Lauer can command the pitch to both sides of the plate, making it effective to induce ground balls and weak contact against hitters from each side of the plate.
He throws two breaking balls—a slider and a curve—with the slider being far more advanced to this point. The slider is tight, sitting 77-82 mph with good tilt and hard, late movement. Lauer commands this one as well as his changeup, giving him two off-speed pitches that flash above-average and can keep hitters honest and off balance. The curveball is still something of a work in progress. It can morph into a slurve and command of the pitch is far from the other three in his repertoire, but because he has those other three good pitches, Lauer can flash the curve here and there to make it work well enough when he needs a breaking ball with a bigger hump.
The Padres are high on Lauer for good reason; the lefty is polished and calm on the mound, repeats his mechanics very well, and clearly understands how to sequence hitters to the point where he can be a top of the rotation starter for years. His ultimate ceiling will depend on things like how his curveball develops, of course, but Eric Lauer has a high floor and he’ll get every chance to have a major impact on the Padres’ big league club. In 18 frames for Triple-AAA El Paso of the Pacific Coast League (an extreme hitter’s league), Lauer allowed just 11 hits (.172 BAA), struck out 19 and walked six while pitching to a 3.00 ERA. He’s a starter to watch but do keep in mind that he’s raw, as he’s moved up the ranks quickly after starting at A-Ball at the beginning of last year. He subsequently carved up Double-AA ball before making the move to Triple-AAA for three starts this year and dominating there too.
Walker Buehler (RHP L.A. Dodgers)
The Dodgers promoted the 23-year-old to the majors late last year to pitch out of the bullpen. In order to both prep him for the majors as well as protect his prized arm, Buehler was moved from the rotation to the bullpen in early August, shortly after his elevation from Double-A to Triple-A. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2015—shortly after his selection in the 1st round of the draft—he returned late in the 2016 season. Few could expect him to regain his velocity and crisp breaking pitches in such a short time, but Buehler has vastly exceeded expectations. He was always a top prospect in college, but his arm injury caused him to fall in the draft. The time away seems to have helped him, as he’s back to throwing in the 94-97 mph range. With an athletic delivery that he consistently repeats, he peppers all quadrants of the strike zone with quality pitches. His fastball borders on double-plus status while both his curveball and slider/cutter also have plus moments. Buehler easily and frequently misses bats with most of his pitches and he works quickly and efficiently, thus preserving his arm. His fastball not only has plus velocity, but it exhibits late movement that makes it almost impossible to make hard contact against. There are some concerns about his durability due to his slight build and previous Tommy John surgery. However, he makes pitching look easy and has such advanced command and control that he has an extremely bright future. The expectation is for Buehler to pitch at or near the top of the rotation for many years to come. This prized prospect was handled with care, but dominance in minors eventually led to brief MLB trial last year and he’ll now make his starting debut here. An obvious gem that is priced like one but cannot be recommended at these prices at such an early stage of his career.
Jaime Barria (RHP - LAA)
Needing starters, the Angels announced that 21-year-old Jaime Barria will make his major league debut when he starts on April 11 against the Rangers. It's a rapid rise for the youngster who went from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A in 2017, having success along the way with a four-pitch mix that is not plus, but effective enough. The 6'1", 210-pound right-hander will likely only be a back-end of the rotation starter, but that is valuable to the Angels too. Barria's fastball tops out at 94 mph, but he pounds the zone with it. His change-up is solid, as is his low-80s mph curve, and he works in a slider. His strikeout history shows that he won't get a lot of strikeouts, but he can get enough to be effective with his four-pitch mix. He certainly won't hurt himself with walks for his control has always been sharp. He is strong and durable, useful traits for a team looking for healthy pitchers. Yet if he doesn't succeed this time around, he's young enough to head back down to Triple-A and get more innings there. The Angels aren't hoping for a lot with Barria, and other starters are ready to help out soon, but this is a major league arm sooner or later. It's just a matter of how effective he can be, but a No. 5 or No. 4 starter would be very helpful. Just expect league average results instead of dominance, and that's what Barria can deliver. In six minor league seasons his ERA is 4.22 with a 1.23 WHIP in 394.1 IP.
2017 STATS: Salt Lake (AAA) – 3 g, 3 gs, 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 14.2 IP, 1.8 BB’s.9, 8 K’s/9, 0 HR, .208 oppBA
2017 STATS: Mobile (AA) – 12 g, 12 gs, 1-6, 3.21 ERA, 61.2 IP, 2.2 BB’s/9, 6.9 K’s/9, 8 HR, .256 oppBA
Andrew Kittredge (RHP - TAM)
Andrew Kittredge made the Tampa Bay bullpen out of a spring training where he struck out 12 of the 53 batters he faced while walking only two. The 28-year-old right-hander had a terrific 2017 in Triple-A Durham before being called up by the Rays and putting up decent numbers in 15 innings. Now he joins a starting totation that was originally four and that will be asked to work harder than most. Although Kittredge has four pitches, he is mostly a fastball/slider pitcher. His fastball can reach 94 mph while his slider sits in the mid-80s. Early in his minor league career he put up ugly WHIPs from elevated hit and walk rates, but his skills have come together to put up decent numbers since last year. He has a career 3.99 ERA, 9.7 K’s/9, 2.9 BB/9 in 411.0 IP minor-league innings. Just keep in mind he’s a reliever that has just two starts over his last 46 appearances, thus making the risk too high.
2017 STATS: Tampa Bay (MLB) – 15g, 0gs, 0-1, 1.76 ERA, 15.1 IP, 8.2 K’s/9, 2 HR, .220 oppBA
2017 STATS: Durham (AAA) – 41g, 2gs, 6-1, 1.45 ERA, 68.1 IP, 10.3 K’s/9, 2 HR, .200 oppBA