In this post I'm going to look at some prospects who should - in my opinion - be on the move up in July.
Durham Bulls to Tampa Bay Rays
Here I get the point with the service time but the Rays have to be careful not to fall out of contention right now. They HAVE TO play with the best roster available. I would suggest two moves while waiting with the third (Jose Lobaton for Kelly Shoppach) and fourth one (Desmond Jennings) till service time restrictions are no concern any more.
Why not DFA'ing Kelly Shoppach right now? Well, he started to hit a bit in June (.804 OPS) and I would wait another week or two. But, if he comes back to his April/May hitting, please move Lobaton up. He can't be worse offensively and is a better defensive catcher.
Why waiting with Jennings? Because he seems to be the most expensive one of the 4 prospects I mention here long term and because the Rays have to look at such things. Because he is not a clear immediate upgrade over a Guyer/Upton/Joyce/Zobrist/Fuld outfield unless e.g. B.J. Upton is being traded.
- Alex Cobb up; Andy Sonnanstine down. If Jeff Niemann struggles again in his next start, this move is inevitable. Move Niemann to the Sonny role and play Cobb in the rotation. Sonnanstine might even clear waivers and end up in Durham anyway.
- Brandon Guyer up; try to move Justin Ruggiano. Justin Ruggiano's value was/is at his peak. Try to get a prospect for him and plug Brandon Guyer in as the most-day left fielder. Guyer has more power upside and contact skills. And while I like Ruggy, he will come back to his very solid (for AAA) and below average (for MLB) all-around game.
- Matt Moore up for Edgar Gonzalez. Together with the Alex Cobb move mentioned above I'd hope for a Durham rotation of Alex Torres, Matt Moore, Andy Sonnanstine and 2 out of Brian Baker, Dirk Hayhurst and Jay Buente by the end of July. Matt Moore simply is ready for this move. As there is no imminent replacement for Matt Moore available in Port Charlotte I'd suggest to either move a starter from AAA down to AA or to sign a free agent to take Moore's rotation spot.
- Nevin Ashley up. Sign Craig Albernaz for AA. This move has to come into place when/if Kelly Shoppach gets DFA'd. Ashley is very solid defensively and his bat has taken a step forward in each of the last 3-4 years. Craig Albernaz is the Rays upper level back-up catcher for years now. This would open a spot for him in AA.
- Cole Figueroa up. Lets test Figueroa in AAA. He doesn't project as a regular major leaguer but with his solid approach (28:25 BB:K ratio) and versitality (can play 2B, 3B and SS) he is much more of a prospect than for example J.J. Furmaniak. And Furmaniak (who can also play in the OF) doesn't even have to be released as the Bulls have a roster spot free and as the Brandon Guyer promotion would open up another spot.
- Tyler Bortnick up and nobody down. Tyler Bortnick is ready for this move to AA. He needs to be tested at higher levels. And as Cole Figueroa is moved up to AAA in this scenario nobody has to come down to take his play. I don't see anybody really destroying A-ball but I can see three scenarios (order by my preference) coming into place if Tyler Bortnick is being moved up: 1) Robby Price moving up (solid in A-ball; a bit older prospect; more playing time for Julio Cedeno then); 2) Anthony Scelfo playing more in the infield and sharing the duty with Matt Hall and Omar Luna; 3) signing a MiL free agent to fill the void.
- Robbie Price up. Nobody down. Tyler Bortnick is ready for this move to AA. He needs to be tested at higher levels. And as Cole Figueroa is moved up to AAA in this scenario nobody has to come down to take his play. I don't see anybody really destroying A-ball but I can see three scenarios (order by my preference) coming into place if Tyler Bortnick is being moved up: 1) Robby Price moving up (solid in A-ball; a bit older prospect; more playing time for Julio Cedeno then); 2) Anthony Scelfo playing more in the infield and sharing the duty with Matt Hall and Omar Luna; 3) signing a MiL free agent to fill the void.
- Wilking Rodriguez up. Lets give him 2-3 more starts and then move him up to Port Charlotte. Charlotte could either play with a 6 man rotation then or move Koronis (as his arm isn't used to a starter's workload) or Merrill Kelly (I don't see him projecting as a starter) back to the pen.
- Jeff Malm up. Nobody down. I know that the sample size is very, very small, but he looks very comfortable in Hudson Valley. I'd try him out in Bowling Green alongside fellow '09 draftees Luke Bailey and Todd Glaesmann. Malm could share 1B/DH duties with Phil Wunderlich.
- Jason McEachern up. The most logic successor of Wilking Rodriguez in the Hot Rods' rotaion is Jason McEachern. He worked on some things this spring and looks better than ever right now. There is some talk that the Rays want to skip him over Bowling Green in '11 and keep him in Hudson Valley this year. I think every level is essential. He should just stick to the approach he has right now in A-.
- Cameron Seitzer, Taylor Motter and Matt Johnson up. All three of them can't learn a new thing at the level they are playing at right now. They could get at-bats due to the promotion of Jeff Malm and due to less at-bats to the likes of Diogenes Luis, Brian Bryles and Tanner Biagini.
- Oscar Hernandez. The 17 year old catching prospect is destroying the pitching of the VSL. Some numbers: .400-.506-1.274 stat line, 15 HR in 43 games, 17:25 BB:K ratio. I'd like to see him in the GCL soon.