Who Will Make the Majors in 2018?

Every baseball season, ATVL watches for those former Valley Leaguers who get called up to the major leagues to make their debut at the game’s highest level. It of course varies year to year, but in 2017, four players created their line in the record book:

1 Emilio Pagan May 3 Harrisonburg 2010
2 Max Povse June 22 Staunton 2013
3 Austin Adams July 15 Staunton 2011
4 Kyle McGrath July 30 Staunton 2011

(For comparison, eight players made their MLB debut in 2016.)

Anticipating callups can be a lot of fun, too. The following list consists of ten players who are relatively close to the major leagues, and what I might deem to be their chances to make the bigs. The percentage is totally made up- I didn’t get that number anywhere- it’s just what I feel the odds are for that player to get the call.

  • Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012), in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Ryan has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, after striking out 159 batters in 157 innings in Triple-A in 2017. The Rays are also rebuilding; in fact, rosterresource right this second lists only 4 starters for the Rays. Ryan should be in the mix for the 5th spot in Spring Training, and if that doesn’t happen, he will be up at some point in 2018. He’s also on the 40-man roster, so no one would have to be dropped for him to be called up. Odds to make his debut this season: 99%
  • Eric Stout (Waynesboro 2012), Kansas City org. Eric pitched all of 2017 in Triple-A; he’s a big lefty (he’s 6-foot-4); he’s a reliever; he’s on the 40-man. He also received some good publicity coming out of Spring Training last year. One problem: Kansas City has two Rule-5 draftees in the mix for the major league bullpen as well. Odds: 95%
  • Sam Howard (Staunton 2012), Colorado Rockies organization. Sam, also on the 40-man, acquitted himself decently well in Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 (3.89 ERA, 7.1 K/9), which shows he can get batters out at altitude. The problem: five listed starters in the majors, and two more in Triple-A who have major league experience. Odds: 85%
  • Eric Stamets (Haymarket 2010), Cleveland Indians org. Eric is on the 40-man, which is obviously a plus, but he is behind a young dynamic player, Francisco Lindor, and there are two other shortstops on the 40-man as well: Yu-Cheng Chang and Willi Castro. And both Chang and Castro are significantly younger than Eric. But Eric can play all infield positions, so maybe he gets the call to be a utility infielder before the other two? Odds: 50%
  • Austin Gomber (Luray 2012), St. Louis Cardinals organization. Austin, considered a “bulldog” on the mound, started 26 games in Double-A in 2017. He’s on the 40-man, and listed as one of the top three starting pitchers in the Cardinals’ system. I’m bummed that the Cardinals and Rays don’t play in 2018; it would be awesome to see Yarbrough and Gomber, old VBL teammates, pitch against each other in the majors. Odds: 50%
  • Tyler Cyr (Waynesboro 2014), San Francisco Giants organization. Tyler, who is the first player on this list who is NOT on the 40-man, struck out 57 batters in 49 innings in Double-A in 2017. He has a live arm, and the Giants really, really want to compete in 2018. Will he get a shot in the bullpen? Odds: 45%
  • Sherman Johnson (Covington 2009-10), Los Angeles Angels org. Sherman just keeps putting up above-average on-base percentages year after year, waiting for the call. (His OBP was .356 in 88 Triple-A games in 2017.) He’s also listed at 1B, 2B, and 3B, which might make him attractive as a utility infielder. Odds: 40%
  • Kevin Herget (Strasburg 2012), Cardinals org. Kevin dominated Double-A in 2017, but then struggled a bit in Triple-A. Over both levels, he struck out a batter per inning, which obviously bodes well. He can also start or relieve, which might come in handy for the parent club. Kevin would be the first Strasburg Express alumnus to make the major leagues. Odds: 40%
  • Chris Huffman (Staunton 2012-13), San Diego Padres org. A native of the Valley, Chris started 7 games in Triple-A in 2017, and held his own. The Padres are still building; Chris might get a quick look at some point. Odds: 25%
  •  Ryan Meisinger (Staunton 2014), Baltimore Orioles system. Ryan has been a solid arm for the Orioles since he was drafted in 2015; he’s struck out 11 per 9 innings over his pro career. He struck out 67 batters in 63 innings at Double-A Bowie in 2017 as well. I wonder if this is the year the wheels come off in Baltimore (sorry, Ryan and all the Neal folks), and Ryan might find his way into some major league innings in Baltimore. Odds: 15%

 

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