Each Thursday, Baseball America looks at the top fantasy callup options for this season.
1. Jimmy Nelson, rhp, Brewers
Season Totals: 10-2, 1.56, 104 IP, 66 H, 23 R, 18 ER, 3 HR, 30 BB, 110 SO at Triple-A Nashville.
Update: Ho hum, another scoreless outing for Nelson. He blanked Memphis on Wednesay night on four hits in 6 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts for his 10th win.
Prognosis: Nelson can’t do much more to show he’s ready and the Brewers would appear to have a need. Although Marco Estrada‘s pitched better of late, he has still allowed 26 homers in 102 innings; Nelson, contrarily, has allowed three in 110 innings. The Brewers have a deep rotation, but it would not be a surprise for Nelson to get the call after the All-Star break.
2. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Red Sox
Season Totals: 9-4, 2.35, 95.2 IP, 69 H, 30 R, 25 ER, 4 HR, 42 BB, 81 SO at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Update: Ranaudo on Monday blanked Durham on three hits over seven innings for his ninth win. He walked two and 60 of his 90 pitches were strikes.
Prognosis: Ranaudo has control issues to iron out (42 BB in 95.2 IP), but of late he’s throwing more strikes (66 percent in past five starts as opposed to 62 percent prior). He told milb.com that he’s tried to simplify his delivery. After falling behind more touted pitchers such as Henry Owens, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes and Trey Ball within the organization, it’s Ranaudo who has positioned himself as the next man up, should the need arise.
3. Nick Kingham, rhp, Pirates
Season Totals: 3-7, 2.45, 97.2 IP, 86 H, 37 R, 25 ER, 3 HR, 30 BB, 74 SO at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis
Update: Kingham has allowed one run in his first four Triple-A starts and has worked at least 6 innings in each outing.
Prognosis: Kingham was hurt by his defense at Double-A (11 unearned runs), but has helped himself since his promotion by limiting the walks (five in 26.2 IP at Indianapolis). He has not allowed a home run in four Triple-A starts. The 6-foot-5 righthander has a fastball that flashes 94 and a sinker. His changeup and curveball are both above average, Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You put those three things together and you really have a pitcher,” Filer told the newspaper, “and you have someone who can help us at the major league level soon.”
4. Jon Gray, rhp, Rockies
Season Totals: 7-3, 3.76, 15 G, 15 GS, 79 IP, 68 H, 35 R, 33 ER, 22 BB, 73 SO at Double-A Tulsa
Update: Gray hasn’t gone beyond 5 1/3 innings since May as the Rockies monitor his workload. On Sunday, he limited Corpus Christi to two runs on four hits in five innings.
Prognosis: When Jhoulys Chacin went on the disabled list, the speculation was it could lead to a callup of Gray. But the Rockies are trying to keep the 22-year-old on a pitch threshold and are also concerned about how his flyball tendencies of late will play in Coors Field. Still, Gray could get the call later this season.
5. Arismendy Alcantara, 2b, Cubs
Update: Alcantara has had an excellent season, but was particularly good in June, slashing .345/.395/549 while increasing his walks and cutting down on his strikeouts from May.
Prognosis: Overshadowed by Javier Baez and now Kris Bryant at Iowa, Alcantara nonetheless has impressed. He’s showing more extra-base power than his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame might belie. With Darwin Barney (42 OPS+) seeing the bulk of playing time in the wake of an injury to Emilio Bonafacio, Alcantara could hardly do worse.
6. Dylan Bundy, rhp, Orioles
Season Totals: 0-1, 0.60, 3 G, 3 GS, 15 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 20 SO at short-season Aberdeen.
Update: Just a year removed from Tommy John surgery, Bundy has dominated short-season ball to the point the Orioles will move him to high Class A Frederick for his next rehab start.
Prognosis: Baltimore certainly won’t rush the fourth overall pick in 2011, but general manager Dan Duquette told reporters he hopes Bundy can contribute to the major league team this season. Still just 21, Bundy threw 70 pitches in his most recent start.
7. Micah Johnson, 2b, White Sox
Season Totals: .301/.363/.411 (85-for-282), 33 R, 13 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 26 BB, 46 SO, 15-for-24 SB at Triple-A Charlotte.
Update: Johnson is 15-for-45 in his past 10 games, but has only one extra base hit in that span.
Prognosis: The White Sox remain on the periphery of wild-card contention—as is the majority of the American League—and The Futures Game selection could help. Gordon Beckham has not provided bad production, but Johnson’s speed could add a dimension to a lineup that includes Jose Abreu, Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo. But if Johnson comes up, he needs a spot because he’s not a utility player. For now, he seems blocked, but expect he’ll get a shot in September.
8. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs
Season Totals: .353/.451/.713 (107-for-303), 74 R, 25 2B, 0 3B, 28 HR, 76 RBI, 50 BB, 94 SO, 9-for-10 SB at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Update: After a slow start—for him—at Triple-A, Bryant has turned on the heat in the past 10 games, going 15-for-37 with two homers.
Prognosis: Theo Epstein has made it clear that Bryant will not be promoted again in 2014, but can he ignore Bryant’s production and the obvious attraction he’d be in another lost Cubs season? His 94 strikeouts in 303 at-bats do indicate that swing and miss will be part of his game, and Bryant is just a year removed from being drafted second overall. The reviews of his defense this season are much better that expected, with agility that allows him to stay at third long term.
9. Justin Nicolino, lhp, Marlins
Season Totals: 7-2, 3.16, 17 G, 17 GS, 102.2 IP, 97 H, 44 R, 36 ER, 6 HR, 12 BB, 47 SO at Double-A Jacksonville
Update: Nicolino allowed three earned runs in six innings Wednesday, walking two—his first walks since June 3—with four strikeouts.
Prognosis: Clearly, the Marlins are not afraid to promote their players (Anthony DeSclafani, Andrew Heaney) and Nicolino, another of the prizes from the deal that sent Jose Reyes to Toronto, could be next. The Virginia commit—who did not make it to Charlottesville thanks to the Jays’ generosity—has a great feel for pitching and a plus straight change. At 22, he’s a mature and level-headed player who would not be overwhelmed by a major league environment.
10. Alex Meyer, rhp, Twins
Season Totals 4-4, 3.61, 77 1/3 IP, 68 H, 36 R, 31 ER, 7 HR, 35 BB, 86 SO at Triple-A Rochester.
Update: Meyer rebounded on Saturday from two short outings with his best effort since the end of May. He allowed three hits and a run in six innings, walking one and striking out three.
Prognosis: Despite the expensive importing of starting pitching, the Twins have continued to struggle on the mound, posting the second-worst ERA in baseball for starters at 4.88. Meyer is striking out 10 batters per nine, but also walking more than four per. If he can iron out the command issues that accompany a 6-foot-9 frame, he could be the power arm the Twins need at the top of rotation to complement the pitch-to-contact hurlers they traditionally employ.