With September call-ups right around the corner, speculations abound as to which minor leaguers will make their way to the bigs. The Rangers have already announced that slugger Willie Calhoun will be among their September additions. Atlanta will almost certainly add a pitcher or two and has plenty to choose from, including Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright.
The Yankees are preparing hurler Justus Sheffield for a bullpen role, and fellow pitcher Chance Adams could also return as the Bronx Bombers enter the stretch run. It will be interesting to see if the Nationals bring up a now healthy Victor Robles, though with the success of Juan Soto, there's not really a spot for him on a team that is unlikely to see the postseason.
Kyle Tucker should be back with the Astros in September, as he has mashed Triple-A pitching whenever he has been shuttled back to the minors. Over his past 10 contests, Tucker is hitting .468 with nine home runs, 19 RBI and six stolen bases (yes, you read that correctly).
Let's take a look at some other notable phenoms in this edition of the Minor League Barometer.
Luis Urias, 2B, SD -- After a slow first half of the season, Urias has been white-hot during the latter portion of the 2018 campaign. Since the All-Star Break, Urias is hitting .336 for Triple-A El Paso. Over his last 10 games, Urias has been even better, hitting an even .500. At just 21 years of age, he has one of the best pure hit tools in the minors, and his slash line has risen to .296/.398/.447 on the year. He also has a career-high eight home runs in 2018, as well. Urias may not be a big bopper or a speed demon on the basepaths, but his contact ability will give him a shot at the starting job in 2019.
Bubba Thompson, OF, TEX -- Thompson is a gifted, extremely athletic outfielder who is already putting his raw tools to good use. The 20-year-old is hitting .291/.348/.453 with eight home runs, 41 RBI and 30 steals through 78 games for Low-A Hickory. Thompson is a speedster but also has a cannon for an arm and appears likely to hit double-digit home runs. A first-round selection in the 2017 draft, Thompson still strikes out a bit too much, but his batting average hasn't suffered, and his eye at the dish should only improve as he matures. Thompson is still a few years away from making a big-league impact, but he's already showing signs of significant progress.
Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD -- Keibert might be the top catching prospect in the minors right now. Though Francisco Mejia has been surging since a trade to the Padres, Ruiz just turned 20 and is more than handling his own at Double-A Tulsa. Over his past 10 games, Ruiz has been electric, batting .351 with three home runs and 11 RBI. Overall, Ruiz is hitting .263 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI in 95 games at Tulsa. While these numbers may not jump off the page, the fact that Ruiz is hitting enough while honing his craft behind the dish at barely 20 years old is impressive. In addition, Ruiz has just 31 strikeouts in 353 at-bats. Yasmani Grandal is a free agent next season, so while Ruiz is unlikely to start at catcher on Opening Day in 2019, there is a possibility he'll see the majors by the end of that year and become a mainstay for the Dodgers for years to come.
Dean Kremer, P, BAL -- Kremer was one of the other pieces sent to the Orioles as part of the Manny Machado deal. A 14th-round selection in the 2016 draft, Kremer had a 5.18 ERA at High-A in 2017, though he still fanned more than a batter per inning (mostly in a relief role). A return engagement at High-A resulted in rousing success as a starter in 2018, as he fanned an astounding 114 batters in just 76 innings. His 3.30 ERA was particularly impressive since he pitched in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League. He was promoted to Double-A just before the trade and has shined at that level for Double-A Bowie. Through seven starts in the Baltimore organization, the 22-year-old righty has a 2.29 ERA and 43:15 K:BB over a span of 39.1 innings and has essentially gone from not even being a blip on the Dodgers' radar to becoming one of the better arms in the Orioles' system.
Evan White, 1B, SEA -- White has been on fire of late for High-A Modesto. Over the last 10 contests, the 22-year-old is hitting an absurd .486 with three home runs, 16 RBI and two stolen bases. Curiously, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound first baseman has just 11 home runs overall this year despite being in the California League. However, White is hitting .302 at this level, striking out less than once per game, and has a .371 OBP. White is a superior defensive first baseman, though his power numbers may never be there. As a result, he does not fit the traditional mold of the position, so it remains to be seen if he will be able to stick at first despite an outstanding glove.
Nick Solak, 2B, TB -- Solak has always been able to hit since being drafted in the second round out of Louisville in 2016 by the Yankees. However, his other tools have continued to improve since coming over to the Rays, leading to a bump in prospect status. Solak has posted career bests in home runs (19) and steals (21) through 120 games for Double-A Montgomery. A possible 20-20 season, particularly from a middle infield position, makes him a prospect worth monitoring. The Rays currently have the surprising Joey Wendle at second base along with another prospect in Brandon Lowe behind him, but that much depth is a good problem to have.
Connor Seabold, P, PHI -- Seabold has superb command but only average stuff, at least according to scouts. That caused him to slide to the third round in the 2017 draft despite a stellar career at Cal State-Fullerton. Seabold has been prone to giving up the long ball at times but has overall put up decent numbers between High-A and Low-A. Despite a low-90's fastball and supposedly mediocre breaking offerings, Seabold has managed more than a strikeout per inning in 2018 while holding the opposition to a .226 batting average. Seabold's 4.91 ERA at Double-A shows he can be torched on occasion, but considering his ERA was once as high as 8.74 at this level, he has done a superb job of late. He even had back-to-back games with at least nine strikeouts earlier in August. Seabold may never rise to be a frontline rotation anchor, but he may have the moxie to eat some innings at the big-league level nevertheless.
Parker Dunshee, P, OAK -- Dunshee is another pitching prospect who doesn't appear to have the pure stuff, but he continues to thrive. Lack of velocity on his fastball may end up haunting him at the higher levels, but thus far it hasn't fazed him. Dunshee has a 2.44 ERA and 157:30 K:BB in 143.2 innings between High-A and Double-A. He continues to miss bats by mixing pitches and showing excellent command — opposing hitters have a .220 average against him in 2018. The 23-year-old has has formed a potent pitching duo with 6-foot-9 teammate Brian Howard, who was selected one round after Dunshee in the 2017 draft.
Jonathan India, 3B, CIN -- The polished product out of the University of Florida is hitting just .191 through 21 games at Low-A, and the Reds have a glut of infielders ahead of him on the depth chart. Fellow third baseman Eugenio Suarez just signed a big extension, while Nick Senzel is the organization's top prospect and should be healthy and primed for a big-league role in 2018. Senzel is also a third baseman by trade. Though India also played shortstop and second base in college, he is primarily a third baseman, and the Reds have Scooter Gennett and Jose Peraza in the fold as well. With Joey Votto still a mainstay at first, it's not immediately apparent where India fits in despite his lofty draft status and immense talent.
Tristen Lutz, OF, MIL -- It's not that Lutz has been awful, just merely that he has not quite performed like one of the team's top prospects. Lutz has had peaks and valleys in 2018, his first year of full-season ball. He hit .181 in April, .304 in July, and has swatted just .205 in the month of August. The 20-year-old has fanned 139 times in 117 games, too. Lutz has shown a bit of power and a dash of speed, though 13 home runs and nine steals are not exactly monster statistics. Lutz remains raw, and it must be pointed out that he did forego a commitment to the University of Texas to sign with the Brewers. In other words, his best days still may be ahead of him. For now, though, Lutz is not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, and it's going to take some time for his promise to be fulfilled.
Yordan Alvarez, 1B, HOU -- First base is perhaps the one infield position where the Astros are not currently set for years to come. Though Yuli Gurriel has been serviceable, he has been injury-prone and is 34 years of age. Players like Jonathan Singleton and AJ Reed didn't pan out, and Tyler White has been adequate, if unspectacular at the position. Enter Alvarez, the 21-year-old neophyte with huge raw power who is penciled in as the first baseman of the future for Houston. Though he mashed at Double-A to start the year, he slowed considerably once he was bumped to Triple-A. The 6-foot-5 left-handed hitter is batting just .239 through 40 games at this new level, so he's unlikely to see the big leagues in 2018.
Peter Alonso, 1B, NYM -- Alonso has had a scintillating season in the Mets organization, but he may have finally hit a wall. Since reaching 100 RBI and 30 home runs, Alonso has been sliding. He is batting just .189 over his last 10 outings, resulting in an average of just .241 at Triple-A. His strikeouts have risen alarmingly at this level, as well — at Double-A, he had almost as many walks (43) as strikeouts (50). In a similar amount of games at Triple-A, Alonso has 31 walks compared to 72 strikeouts. He has substantial power, as evidenced by his home run figures and the towering bomb he hit at the Futures Game, but he will need to prove he can manage the strike zone when called upon at the higher levels. Alonso is not on the 40-man roster, and the Mets still need to figure out what to do with Dominic Smith. The 2019 season looks like the time for Alonso's MLB premiere, but questions remain as to where he will get the necessary at-bats with Smith still in the fold.