Let's kick things off in Minor Developments this week with a top prospect on the way back from injury who demands your immediate attention.
Do you remember Dylan Bundy? If you haven't, I'm here to jumpstart the hype machine that's been quiet for the past year. The Orioles righty, once considered the top pitching prospect in the minors, is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and may be an option during the second half. His comeback has been nearly flawless thus far (10 IP, 1 ER, 15/1 K/BB), with his fastball velocity sitting in the 90-93 mph range, close to where he regularly worked before surgery. Bundy has a knockout curveball that dominated hitters in his time in the minors in 2012, and a change that made so much progress, it helped carried him to a September major league debut as a 19-year-old. If he's ready by the time the All-Star Break rolls around, it would make sense for the Orioles to slot him into their rotation, as he's a significant upgrade over Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman (an excellent prospect himself). Simply put, it's difficult to find this kind of Bundy upside on the waiver wire at this point in the season. If you're looking to fill out that last roster spot with a lottery ticket, Bundy is as good as it gets.
The Cubs have to be thrilled with the early returns from 4th overall pick Kyle Schwarber, who terrorized the Northwest League (5 G, .600, 4 HR, 10 RBI), and is doing the same to the Midwest League (4 G, .417, 1 HR, 2 RBI). Schwarber is working as an outfielder and a catcher, with the strong belief among scouts he'll end up in an outfield corner. While it would be great for his fantasy value to stick behind the dish, his patient approach and plus power will play anywhere. If he keeps slugging, expect him to follow a path similar to fellow farmhand Kris Bryant, possibly ending at High-A Daytona with a trip to the Arizona Fall League a strong possibility. Dynasty leaguers should be all over him if he's available.
How much longer will the Twins wait before summoning top pitching prospect Alex Meyer? He continues to have success at Triple-A (3.79 ERA, 83/34 K/BB), all while further working to refine his mechanics and show consistency with his stuff. The Twins opted to give veteran minor leaguer Yohan Pino the first crack at Samuel Deduno's rotation spot, and with a strong debut (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), Pino's earned at least a few more turns. It looks like we'll have to wait until at least July to see Meyer in the majors. He still makes for a highly intriguing speculation play in all formats as we head toward the midway point of the season.
Tough news out of Houston this week, as news trickled in of top prospect Carlos Correa's ankle injury, which should keep him out for a significant chunk of time. Correa injured the ankle sliding into third base on Saturday, and will be evaluated this week by team doctors to determine the extent of the injury. The former No. 1 overall pick and current shortstop has been on quite a roll this year (.325, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 20 SB), moving toward the top of prospect lists heading into midseason updates.
Reds pitching prospect Ben Lively made his Double-A debut Monday night (3.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 8 K), showing the strikeout stuff that helped him mow down High-A hitters through the early parts of this season (79 IP, 2.28 ERA, 95/16 K/BB). Lively works in the low- to mid-90s with his fastball, and throws three off-speed pitches (curveball, slider, and change). Much of Lively's success comes from deception, as he does a very good job hiding the ball during his delivery, allowing him to keep hitters off balance. While he's still at least a year away, he could offer plenty of strikeout potential as a mid-rotation starter once he reaches the majors.
The Cardinals will send lefty Marco Gonzales to the hill on Wednesday night for his major league debut against the Rockies, a daunting task for any pitcher. Gonzales has been excellent this season, moving from High-A (37.2 IP, 1.43 ERA, 32/8 K/BB), to Double-A (38.2 IP, 2.33 ERA, 46/10 K/B), and now to the majors. He works in the low-90s with his fastball, throws an excellent change and average curveball. With strong command of his arsenal, he has the potential to post immediate results for the Cardinals. While he may not blow hitters away with overpowering stuff, he's good enough to be last for many years.
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