Minor Developments: Pirate booty

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

The Pirates have finally summoned top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole to the majors to help solidify their injury depleted rotation, as he’ll make the start Tuesday against the Giants. Cole has been dominant of late, not allowing a run over his last 19 innings. While he has the highest upside of any pitching prospect debuting this season on paper, his performance has been less than stellar this year, especially in the strikeout department (6.22 K/9). Earlier in the season, Cole committed himself to doing a better job at pitching deeper into games by pitching to contact more, which could be a reason for his mediocre strikeout rate. Remember, this is a guy who can reach triple digits with his fastball while also possessing a plus slider and changeup, and is also only a year removed from a dominant strikeout rate at Double-A (9.15 K/9). Cole should be added in all mixers.

Assuming Cole sticks in the majors, Pirates Double-A pitcher Jameson Taillon would assume the position of top organizational prospect, a place some may argue he already holds. The big righty has been impressive this season (3.11 ERA, 9.59 K/9) in his return to Altoona, and it may only be a matter of weeks before he’s replacing Cole in Indianapolis. While he may not be ready to make a fantasy impact until 2014, Taillon has the stuff to be a future ace on what could be a very good Pirates team down the road.
Also earning a promotion this week is Twins third base prospect Miguel Sano, who will now be attempting to terrorize Double-A pitchers for New Britain. Sano ends his tour of High-A with a .330 average and 16 home runs, exciting numbers for fantasy players and even more so for Twins fans starved for a power bat at the hot corner. He still strikes out a bit too much (25.1% K rate), and will need to continue to make more adjustments to become a complete hitter, but could probably come up to the majors now and do damage in the home run department. The Twins will likely be cautious with their organizational gem, with 2014 looking like the target date for Sano's MLB debut.
Tigers outfield prospect Nick Castellanos is finally surging at Triple-A, batting .395 with four homers over his last 10 games. He now has 10 homers on the season, equaling his total from a year ago, which was also his career best. A keen batting eye coupled with his developing power means he won’t be long for the minors, especially with Austin Jackson still on the mend and Andy Dirks still struggling. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him up during the next few weeks, making him someone to stash in deeper mixers and AL-only formats.
The Mets have to love what they see from outfield prospect Cesar Puello, who is finally putting it all together for Double-A Binghamton this season (.326, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 17 SB). Puello, believed to be named in the Biogenesis report, has always been a five-tool guy but struggled translating those tools to usable skills the past two seasons. That caused him to slide down organizational prospect lists. With the arrival of his power stroke to go along with his already established speed, it may not be long before we see him roaming the Mets outfield. With the club rebuilding, he’ll almost certainly get a look in September with an eye on claiming a starting gig in 2014.
Finally, it’s been a good couple of weeks for Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts, who has been on fire the past 10 games (.471, 4 HR, 11 RBI). The most telling revelation in his development may be in his pitch recognition, as he’s seen a significant spike in his walk rate this year (13.3%) compared to last (9.9% in High-A, 1.0% in Double-A). With Stephen Drew only under contract for one year, it could be Bogaerts who claims the starting shortstop gig in Boston in 2014.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall) and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com

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