It’s officially prospect callup season, with many contenders reaching into the minors in search of a late-season boost.
In the last two weeks alone,Joe Musgrove, Andrew Benintendi, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Teoscar Hernandez and Aaron Judge all received their first major-league callups by teams within five games of a playoff spot to shore up a problematic roster hole.
With that, here is a look at nine more prospects who have positioned themselves for their first callup and fit nicely with the needs of a contending team, defined as within five games of a playoff spot as of Monday.
1. Yulieski Gurriel, 3b, Astros
Signed to a five-year, $47.5 million deal in July, the Astros previously said they would promote Gurriel to the majors on Monday but have since backed off that statement. Still, it figures to be only a matter of time for Gurriel, who is currently at Double-A Corpus Christi and 11 games into his U.S. career. The 32-year old Cuban wouldn’t have to do much to outperform Astros’ third basemen offensively this season, who have combined to hit .228/.312/.379.
2. Jose De Leon, rhp, Dodgers
Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson both came out of their most recent starts injured, Rich Hill‘s scheduled Dodgers debut has been pushed back three times because of blisters on his pitching hand, Alex Wood remains on the disabled list and Clayton Kershaw only just began throwing from 90 feet on flat ground. The Dodgers starting pitching depth is stretched thin with Brock Stewart and Julio Urias already up in the majors, and De Leon is next in line. After battling early-season injuries of his own, De Leon is 5-1, 3.20 with 78 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City while holding opponents to a .209 batting average in the hitter-friendly PCL.
3. Austin Meadows, of, Pirates
The Pirates keep waiting for Andrew McCutchen to snap out of his season-long funk, but it just hasn’t happened. It’s to the point where the Pirates have gotten the third-worst production out of center field in the majors this yearahead of only the Braves and Redsaccording to Baseball-Reference, opening the door for Meadows. Meadows has battled injuries this season, but is hitting .304 with a .429 on-base percentage since returning to Triple-A Indianapolis earlier this month.
4. Joe Jimenez, rhp, Tigers
The Puerto Rican flamethrower has ascended rapidly this season, beginning the year in high Class A and making his way to Triple-A Toledo. Armed with an upper-90s fastball and putaway slider, Jimenez has a combined 1.59 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings across three levels this season. He would be a boon to a Tigers bullpen that ranks 12th in the American League in ERA and 14th in strikeouts.
5. Gavin Cecchini, ss, Mets
Injuries have hurt the Mets at multiple positions this season, but shortstop is one spot they are capable of filling from within. Cecchini, a 2012 first-round selection, is hitting .318 with an .827 OPS at Triple-A Las Vegas. Though that is in a hitter-friendly environment, it should be noted Cecchini put up nearly identical numbers last year at Double-A Binghamton, playing in one of the most pitcher-friendly home parks in one of the most pitcher-friendly leagues. Cecchini’s hitting ability, along with an above-average arm, makes him an intriguing option for the Mets, who have started an aging Jose Reyes (.227/.272/.453) at shortstop since he came off the disabled list.
6. Yandy Diaz, 3b/of, Indians
The Indians have received the third-worst production in the American League from their third basemen this year, according to Baseball-Reference, and have a corner outfield spot to fill with Michael Brantley having season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. The well-regarded Diaz is hitting .331/.408/.461 at Triple-A Columbus while spending time at third base and both corner outfield spots. The 25-year old Cuban is a gifted defender with above-average arm strength who can push incumbent third baseman Jose Ramirez back into left field where he began the year, or take on a role in left himself where Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer are currently splitting time. If nothing else, Diaz can add even more punch to an already-potent Indians offense.
7. Yohander Mendez, lhp, Rangers
Even with lefthanders Jake Diekman and Alex Claudio putting together strong seasons out of the bullpen, the Rangers as a whole have been pedestrian facing lefthanded hitters this year, allowing them a .768 OPS, 21st in baseball. Enter Mendez, a 6-foot-5 Venezuelan southpaw in Triple-A who has held lefties to a .178/.253/.267 slash line this season while striking out 36 of the 99 lefthanders faced. Mendez profiles as a starter, but for now he can help give Texas another option out of the bullpen to tame some of the game’s most dangerous lefties.
8. D.J. Peterson, 1b, Mariners
Written off by some as a bust before the season began, Peterson has regained prospect shine this season and returned to pummeling baseballs, hitting .268/.333/.462 with 27 doubles, 18 homers and 76 RBI in 111 games across Double-A and Triple-A while playing first base almost exclusively. While still prone to strikeouts, Peterson still has a reasonable chance to be an upgrade over the current Mariners group of first basemen this season, who have put together a .240/.288/.443 combined slash line and been the fourth-least productive first base group in the AL, as measured by Baseball-Reference.
9. Destin Hood, of, Marlins
Giancarlo Stanton‘s season-ending injury opens up a spot in the Marlins outfield. While no one can truly replace the hulking slugger, Hood has some pop that should be useful for the power-starved Marlins, who are tied for second-to-last in the majors with 96 home runs. Hood, a 2008 second-round pick who has taken a long road through the minors, is hitting .269 with 27 doubles, 14 homers and 74 RBI through 110 games with Triple-A New Orleans. While some of the power could be seen as a product of the hitter-friendly PCL, it is still Hood’s third straight season of at least 25 doubles and 10 home runs, a skill set that is especially useful to the Marlins now.