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Toolshed: Prospects calling for promotions

Bregman, Giolito among big names who should be on the move soon
June 22, 2016

It's moving season in the Minor Leagues. 

Every year around the first slate of All-Star Games, some of the game's top prospects get moved up a level after being acknowledged for their first-half accomplishments and showing they could use a new challenge. And just to be clear, we're talking about prospects moving up within the Minors. Though the Super Two cutoff is likely around now for many players -- meaning prospects such as Cody Reed and Jameson Taillon can start their service clocks with less worry -- Major League situations dictate so much of whether a player can make the jump to the Show that sometimes prospects can wait for that call long after they've earned a look.

Promotions within the Minors can be much more merit-based. We've already seen top 20 overall prospects Yoan Moncada and Austin Meadows fall into this group, while 2016 full-season debutants Phil Bickford and Kevin Newman also moved up a level following dominant runs. With four All-Star Games completed Tuesday night, the Florida State League All-Star Game played last Saturday and the Texas League showcase coming next Tuesday, here's a look at top 100 prospects who could be on the move soon. (Note: All stats are through Monday's games.)

Astros SS Alex Bregman, Double-A Corpus Christi: You could make the case that Bregman should jump straight to the Majors with the Astros needing all the help they can get if they want to have a shot at a second straight trip to the playoffs, but we'll focus on a jump to Triple-A Fresno. Houston's top prospect has little left to prove in the Texas League, where he leads with a .412 OBP, .571 slugging percentage and .984 OPS. (No one else in the circuit has an OPS higher than .888.) He also ranks second with 14 homers, despite missing time with a hamstring injury. He's cooled off some of late, but even that equates to a .398 OBP and .836 OPS in June. The only argument for keeping Bregman with the Hooks is to give him an opportunity to get more reps at third base, as he's held back from doing that with the presence of Colin Moran in Fresno. Otherwise, there are no shortstops standing in the way of an easy move to the Pacific Coast League around or after the Texas League All-Star Game on June 28.

Mets SS Amed Rosario, Class A Advanced St. Lucie: The Mets' No. 2 prospect got the start at shortstop for the South Division in last Saturday's FSL All-Star Game, and with that now on his resume, a promotion to Double-A Binghamton shouldn't be far off. In fact, it would be Rosario's second promotion to the Eastern League after he was brought up to help the B-Mets at the end of last year following an injury to fellow shortstop Gavin Cecchini. Instead of starting him in 2016 where his 2015 concluded, the Mets chose to send Rosario back to St. Lucie, where they hoped he'd improve on his .257 average and 17.5 percent strikeout rate. He's ticked both of those boxes by hitting .305 with a 12.5 percent strikeout rate. What's more, he's gone deep three times in the FSL after having failed to leave the yard in 2015. With Cecchini at Triple-A Las Vegas, there's room for Rosario at the shortstop position in Binghamton, and with 167 career games at Class A Advanced under his belt, it's time for the 20-year-old to be tested by Double-A arms.

Cubs 2B/OF Ian Happ, Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach: There's plenty of examples of 2015 first-round college bats earning promotions this season. Dansby Swanson, Andrew Benintendi and Kevin Newman have each made the jump to Double-A after starting out at Class A Advanced, and Happ seems well-positioned to do the same. The University of Cincinnati product has been hot in June with a .361/.461/.607 line in 19 games for the Pelicans and now ranks third in the Carolina League with a .410 OBP and fourth with an .885 OPS. He's shown a good mix of pop and speed, too, with seven homers and 10 steals over 69 games. There's an argument for keeping Happ behind so he can continue to work on his transition to second base, but with the way the 21-year-old is heating up, he's showing too much of a mastery of the Class A Advanced level to be of use there much longer.

Rockies OF David Dahl, Double-A Hartford: Though the Eastern League doesn't hold its All-Star Game until July 13, there are several guys who should be under consideration for bumps not long after its upcoming roster announcement, and the rest of this article is dedicated to some of those. Let's start with Dahl, who has 138 games of Double-A experience. The Rockies' No. 2 prospect ranks fourth in the league in home runs (13), slugging percentage (.522) and OPS (.892) and has added some speed with 15 steals in 65 games for Hartford, all while playing without a true home ballpark. Potential reasons to hold him back are his 25.2 percent strikeout rate and some June cooling (.234 average, .707 OPS this month). But after a tough 2015, the hope was Dahl could combine health with results in his return to the Eastern League, and no one can claim he hasn't achieved that through the first three months of the season.

Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito, Double-A Harrisburg: Giolito is in the category with Bregman in that there are plenty of fans who would love to see his skill set in the Majors as soon as possible, but again, we'll focus on a jump to Triple-A first.'s top overall prospect experienced serious control problems through April and most of May but has been his usual lights-out self since then, going 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA, 39 strikeouts and eight walks in his last five starts (31 innings). The 21-year-old right-hander acknowledged last week that he worked out some kinks in his mechanics to help find his control. Giolito, who has two plus-plus offerings in his fastball and curve, ranks fourth in the Eastern League with a 2.71 ERA and third with a 9.4 K/9 and owns a 3.17 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 113 2/3 career innings at the Double-A level. With everything ironed out, it's looking like it's time to see how his stuff plays against Triple-A bats. 

Indians OF Bradley Zimmer/Clint Frazier, Double-A Akron: There are interesting cases to promote either of the Indians' top two prospects, or both, if the Tribe wants to be so bold. Zimmer is the more experienced of the two with 112 career games at Double-A, and with a .374 OBP, 10 homers and 26 steals this season, he's had his share of success in his second go-round in the Eastern League. (A .247 average and 29.3 percent strikeout rate could also indicate that he has more to prove.) Frazier has been a little more well-rounded with a .295/.387/.485 line, seven homers, a league-leading 20 doubles and nine steals in 59 games for the RubberDucks. Since being taken in the first round out of a Georgia high school, Frazier has never been promoted in-season, but with his .872 OPS being a career high, the 21-year-old has a case that this could be the year for that to occur. All that said, there isn't a lot to differentiate between the two; Frazier and Zimmer have a 148 and 147 wRC+, respectively, in the Eastern League. With Michael Brantley still on the DL, the Indians don't have a particularly deep outfield and could give Zimmer and/or Frazier a chance at Triple-A to see if they could help the big club's chances in a playoff run down the stretch.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.