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With recent promotions, who is next?

Jonathon Zenk


blog-0135202001465017687.jpgTwo weeks ago, I wrote an article about who the top five prospects who should be promoted are. Earlier this week, two of them indeed were promoted when Kohl Stewart was promoted from Fort Myers to Double-A Chattanooga and Randy LeBlanc was promoted to High-A Fort Myers to take over Stewart's place in the rotation.


Stewart had a bit of a rough last few starts in Fort Myers, giving up seven earned runs in 11 innings over his last two starts. But before then, he was lights out. He finished this season in Fort Myers at 3-2 with an ERA of 2.61. Even with the ERA like it was, the reason why he was promoted was he strikeout totals. They are vastly improved over a year ago. So far, Stewart has 44 strikeouts in 51.2 innings compared to just 71 over 129.1 innings in 2015. As for LeBlanc, he was nothing short of incredible for the Kernels this year. He ended up going 6-2 with an ERA of 0.74. He is not much of a prospect for the Twins, but he needed a new challenge and with Stewart's promotion to Chattanooga, the door opened for his promotion as well.


As for who is next, conventional wisdom would think that one of the Fort Myers southpaws will be next, but not sure if it will be Stephen Gonsalves or 2015 No. 1 pick Tyler Jay. As of a few weeks ago, Gonsalves had the edge by a wide margin, but he has struggled his last two starts while Jay has surged. The last two starts, the San Diego product has allowed six earned runs in 11 innings and has allowed 13 hits. Jay is coming off his best start of the season, throwing eight shutout innings allowing two hits and he struck out 11 in a win vs. St. Lucie. Gonsalves still has better overall numbers in 2016, but the gap is closing quickly. In Jay's last five starts, he has allowed no runs three times and has not allowed more than two in any start since being roughed up on April 28.


When Gonsalves or Jay is promoted, the biggest beneficiary will be Sam Clay. The Cedar Rapids southpaw has only allowed more than one run in a start once this season. He has an ERA of 2.13 and is need of a new challenge, much like his former teammate LeBlanc. However, he needs to lower his walk rate. He has walked 27 in 50.2 innings, a 4.8 walks per nine innings rate, which is way too high. He will need to work on that when he gets promoted to High-A Fort Myers.


It amazes me that J.T. Chargois still has not made his big league debut yet. He has been lights out for the Red Wings so far. On Thursday, he finally allowed his first run for Rochester. In nine games, he has pitched 10 innings, allowing the one run on six hits while striking out an incredible 19 batters. In total this year, he has pitched 21.2 innings and has allowed three runs while striking out 33. With Minnesota's bullpen being a disaster, you'd think the Twins would try to do anything to fix the problem, but they have not. When he does get called up, Trevor Hildenberger will likely get a promotion from Double-A Chattanooga to Rochester. In 13 games for Chattanooga, Hildenberger has allowed two runs on nine hits in 17 innings for an ERA of 1.06. He has struck out 16 batters. Cedar Rapids' Michael Theofanopoulos is another relief pitcher who could be promoted soon as well.


As far as hitters, LaMonte Wade is first in line for a promotion. Wade has cooled off recently, but is still hitting .320. He has struck out just 22 times in 172 at-bats and has walked 36 times. He has just 16 extra base hits, but that may eventually come as he matures. The 22-year-old may be down in Cedar Rapids, though, this entire year, as Edgar Corcino in Fort Myers is having a solid year and he is the starter in center for the Miracle. I think he will eventually be promoted, this year, though.

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The worst thing against Chargois coming up soon...and I can't believe I'm actually going to type this...is that the ML bullpen has been much better of late. For him, in the long run, despite his stuff and the results, a little more time honing his game at Rochester may prove beneficial. But unless he regress suddenly, I can't believe he's not up by July 1st to play the second half.


I'm also mixed on Jay vs Gonsalves. I'd really like to see both move up, and they might. On the one hand, Jay has been kicking it, and he's a little older, but he's also new to full time starting. Gonsalves really has next to nothing to prove in A ball, but he's been a little off lately and is younger. (Let me state that Gonsalves being a little off is still pretty good!)


I'm going to say Jay before Gonsalves just due to age and a better roll lately. I'd say another 2-3 starts for either and then they're both up...also July 1st at the latest. Puts them both on pace to begin 2017 in AA with possible mid-season moves to AAA.


Wade has to move up and soon!


I'd really like to see what AJ Murray could do at high A, but this is only his 1st full league season.


He's still working on some fielding things, as any young infielder would be expected to, and improving his SB, but doesn't Gordon have to be up July 1st as well?


Unless ML health suddenly sends Buxton and/or Kepler back down to Rochester again...and I hope it doesn't happen...I could see Palka at Rochester in the near future. I know his production has slipped since his first month, but the power is still there, he's got a decent number of BB to go with his SO totals giving him a still solid BA and OB.

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