As the calendar creeps closer to April 6th, more and more prospects are learning their fate. Eight of the Top 100 prospects were sent down over the past few days. They will now spend Opening Day in the Minor Leagues, but will be on the fast track to make their 2015 debuts at some point.
Noah Syndergaard, the New York Mets’ No. 1 prospect and No. 10 on Grading on the Curve’s overall list, was the biggest name reassigned this past week. When Zach Wheeler went down for the season after tearing ligaments in his elbow resulting in Tommy John surgery, and with Dillon Gee rumored to be on the trading block, Syndergaard seemed to have a chance to break camp as the fifth starter.
Unfortunately, Syndergaard had a rough go this spring, allowing four runs to score over his 7.1 innings pitched. He did strike out an impressive nine batters, but also walked three and allowed six hits. When he was scratched from Staurday’s start after taking a ball off his left ankle, his fate was all but sealed.
“He just needs to go down and pitch the way he’s capable of pitching and focus on the job at hand,” Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson told MiLB.com, “which is his role at [Triple-A] Las Vegas and not worry about what openings or opportunities may arise in New York.”
Less of a surprise was Kevin Plawecki’s big league Spring Training coming to an end. The Met’s top offensive prospect and former 2012 first round pick had a decent spring. He is blocked by another one-time Mets’ top prospect in Travis D’arnaud, who has had a worse spring than Plawecki but is locked in as the Opening Day starter. Plawecki finished his big league spring batting .250 (5-for-20) and blasting one home run.
The Boston Red Sox sent two of their big future stars back to the minors as well. All-World catcher, the Sox No. 1 prospect and No. 9 overall at Grading on the Curve, Blake Swihart saw his 2015 Grapefruit League season conclude. The 2011 first round draft pick had an impressive spring offensively slashing .389/.450/.556 with one home run.
Swihart, just 22-years old, has a good blend of offense and defense, however has played a mere 18 games above Double-A ball. He will begin the season in Triple-A at Pawtucket and work on his catching while Christian Vasquez holds it down in Boston. Vasquez is known for his amazing defense, but swings a light bat, so if Swihart improves on his impressive 2014 (.293/.341/.469 while throwing out 54 percent of would be base stealers and committing only 8 errors in 771 chances) he could be back by midseason.
More surprisingly, Eduardo Rodriguez saw his spring training come to an end as he was reassigned to Triple-A. Rodriguez, the 21-year old lefty who was part of the Andrew Miller deal last season, was solid this spring. Thought to be making his case for the Red Sox 2015 bullpen, Rodriguez allowed just one run over his 7.2 innings, but more impressively, he struck out nine and walked none.
The Red Sox bullpen however, is full of veterans like Alexi Ogando, Edward Mujica, and Craig Breslow that there simply wasn’t room for the young southpaw. He will take his above average fastball to Pawtucket and bide his time.
“In Eduardo’s situation, we don’t have the history we do with Blake, but he’s a young, poised, extremely talented left-handed pitcher that has got a bright future,” Sox’ skipper John Farrell told Ian Browne of MLB.com. “There was one outing in particular in Bradenton where he didn’t have his best stuff, and yet he didn’t let the traffic [on the bases] or the challenge of the inning affect the body language and poise to make pitches. He’s an impressive young guy.”
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Alex Meyer, one of the Minnesota Twins’ bevy of future pitching stars was also reassigned. Working his way back from some shoulder issues last season, Meyer was very wild this spring. He allowed just one run over his 5.1 innings pitched, but walked seven while striking out six. A season of Triple-A should prepare the 25-year old righty to take over in the Twins’ rotation in 2016 with other top pitching prospects Kohl Stewart and Jose Berrios.Sep 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Maikel Franco (7) hits a single against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
It seems like the Philadelphia Phillies are content with Cody Asche. Maikel Franco, the Phillies’ No. 3 prospect, seemed poised to take over third base for a Phillies’ team looking towards their future. However a slow spring in which he went 6-for-30 (.200 batting average) with no home runs and just one RBI, showed he wasn’t ready for big league pitching just yet.
Lastly, the Pittsburgh Pirates reassigned Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham. Two of the Pirates pitchers of the future are still a little bit away and will work their way to the big leagues in Triple-A this season.
Kingham, the 23-year old righty who was drafted in the fourth round in 2010, had a nice spring. He didn’t allow any runs to score over three innings while striking out three. Taillon didn’t make any appearances after he missed the entire 2014 season with Tommy John surgery. The Pirates’ No. 2 prospect behind Tyler Glasnow, the 23-year old righty, needs to simply see consistent pitching opportunities at Triple-A to show he is back from injury. Strong 2015 seasons in Indianapolis could merit big league call-ups this season.