Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

Minor League Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

Organizations will have to get creative this season when it comes to September call-ups as new rules limit roster expansion to just 28 players, which means only two extra spots per club. It'll be interesting to see how organizations manipulate transactions to maximize experience for some of their prized prospects. The Nationals have already called up Keibert Ruiz, one of their prized acquisitions in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade, and he should start the majority of games at catcher. This week's Minor League Barometer will hit on some more possible promotions as we enter the final month of play. 

UPGRADE

Colton Welker, 1B/3B, COL – It's been a dismal season for the Rockies at the big league level, and Welker probably didn't care for his 2021 either as he failed to make the team out of spring training despite plenty of hype and then was suspended 80 games in May for testing positive for a banned substance. He's returned and is currently slashing .292/.373/.477 with two homers and 16 RBI in 17 games at Triple-A. The Rockies have a lot of infield options, but the outfield is in shambles, Charlie Blackmon is in the twilight of his career, and they can afford to move some guys around.  With Trevor Story likely leaving in the offseason, the Rockies could be in line for a total rebuild and getting a glimpse at a player like Welker could just be the start.

Bobby Witt, SS/3B, KC – Don't believe everything you hear. Remember when

Organizations will have to get creative this season when it comes to September call-ups as new rules limit roster expansion to just 28 players, which means only two extra spots per club. It'll be interesting to see how organizations manipulate transactions to maximize experience for some of their prized prospects. The Nationals have already called up Keibert Ruiz, one of their prized acquisitions in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade, and he should start the majority of games at catcher. This week's Minor League Barometer will hit on some more possible promotions as we enter the final month of play. 

UPGRADE

Colton Welker, 1B/3B, COL – It's been a dismal season for the Rockies at the big league level, and Welker probably didn't care for his 2021 either as he failed to make the team out of spring training despite plenty of hype and then was suspended 80 games in May for testing positive for a banned substance. He's returned and is currently slashing .292/.373/.477 with two homers and 16 RBI in 17 games at Triple-A. The Rockies have a lot of infield options, but the outfield is in shambles, Charlie Blackmon is in the twilight of his career, and they can afford to move some guys around.  With Trevor Story likely leaving in the offseason, the Rockies could be in line for a total rebuild and getting a glimpse at a player like Welker could just be the start.

Bobby Witt, SS/3B, KC – Don't believe everything you hear. Remember when Witt was going to make the club out of spring training? Well, it's nearly the end of the season and he's yet to make his big league debut. That being said, September could be Witt's time to shine. The Royals aren't making the playoffs, it's possible Adalberto Mondesi is done for the year, Hunter Dozier isn't the answer at either third or in the outfield, Nicky Lopez should be playing second base, and there's an empty spot at DH. Meanwhile, Witt is hitting an even .300 with four home runs, 12 RBI and two steals over the last two weeks. His power/speed combination could pay dividends from a fantasy perspective down the stretch.

Adley Rutschman, C, BAL – Give the poor Orioles fans something to cheer about. Rutschman has been white-hot since being promoted to Triple-A by hitting .371/.443/.500 across 16 contests. The switch-hitting backstop remains the future face of the franchise. Baltimore lost 19 in a row during August and currently holds the majors' worst record. The debut of Rutschman in September could at least give the team a jolt and a glimmer of hope heading into the offseason.

Jose Miranda, 3B, MIN – Miranda cooled off a bit in August after a scorching July, but he's still slashing .329/.388/.558 with 12 homers and 37 RBI through 54 games at Triple-A. The inability of the Twinkies to unload Josh Donaldson to a contender at the trade deadline have kept Miranda in the minors for now, but September could be his time to shine. The DH slot is more vacant with Nelson Cruz having been shipped to Tampa Bay. Even with Donaldson under contract for the next two seasons, the Twins should see what they have in Miranda and whether an offseason trade of the Bringer of Rain could be worth exploring as a result.

CHECK STATUS

Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA – To be honest, a promotion from Double-A is unlikely for Rodriguez. But at just 20, he's tearing the cover off the ball going .330/.460/.490 with four home runs, 12 RBI and eight steals in 28 games. This comes after hitting .400 for the Dominican Republic in the Tokyo Olympics. Let's just say this: Rodriguez could play in the big leagues in September and would be ready and not overwhelmed. But there's no reason for the M's to do such a thing, and they will likely be hesitant after the struggles of Jarred Kelenic this year. Rodriguez might be the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, but a 2022 debut is still more likely.

Josh Jung, 3B, TEX – The stress fracture suffered by Jung in March likely derailed any chance of him seeing the majors in 2021. He didn't officially return until the middle of June, got his feet under him in July at Double-A, and was only recently promoted to Triple-A. Jung remains one of the Rangers' future cornerstones after dealing  Joey Gallo at the trade deadline to confirm their rebuilding status. Jung slashed .308/.366/.544 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI across 43 contests at Double-A prior to being promoted. He also will look towards 2022 as his time to see everyday at-bats in Texas.

Drey Jameson, P, ARI –  Jameson has shot up the ranks due to his ability to rack up the strikeouts with five pitches (yes, you read that correctly). Between High-A and Double-A, he's posted a 3.44 ERA and 124:27 K:BB over 96.2 innings with the opposition hitting .226 against. Jameson's command and results have been much improved as the year has gone on and as the competition has gotten tougher. He may not make his MLB premiere in 2021 due to the D-Backs being long out of contention, but there's a path for him to contend for a rotation spot at the age of 24 heading into next season.

Matthew Liberatore, P, STL – The Cardinals remain in the Wild Card hunt, and the deadline deals for fading veterans J.A. Happ and Jon Lester spoke volumes as to their level of comfort with using a hurler like Liberatore down the stretch. The prospect admittedly struggled in July by posting an ugly 6.85 ERA at Triple-A. He's rebounded nicely in August with a 2.84 mark while maintaining his ratio of about one strikeout per inning.  At just 21, bright days are ahead for the southpaw, but Liberatore almost assuredly will not see St. Louis this year.

DOWNGRADE

Jake Eder, P, MIA – Eder and the Marlins received some tough news, as one of the breakout hurlers from this campaign needs Tommy John surgery and is likely to miss all of 2022. The southpaw enjoyed massive success this campaign with a minuscule 1.77 ERA and 99:27 K:BB in only 71.1 innings. The Marlins should still have Edward Cabrera in the starting rotation next season along with Sixto Sanchez and Max Meyer waiting in the wings and Eury Perez dominating further down the line, but Eder's services could be unavailable until the following year. 

Josh Lowe, OF, TB – This has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with opportunity and organization. The Rays sit first in the AL East, and now is not the time to allow a top prospect to get their feet wet. They're also notoriously conservative with their prized phenoms, and Lowe will be no exception. If he, Vidal Brujan and Shane Baz were in different organizations, they would already be in the bigs. While that does speak to the Rays' handling of prospects, it also speaks to their success as an organization as well as their development. Kevin Kiermaier has one more guaranteed year left on his deal, after which time Lowe's future path will become much clearer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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