All stats current up to 8/5/22
Image: AP Photo | Mark J. Terrill
After the trade deadline, many people tend to focus on the contending teams’ incoming acquisitions. This is especially true when those selling teams may offer boring baseball, playing without their departed stars, and also with many selling teams playing in smaller markets with less attention placed onto them.
However, wherever one players’ journey ends, another has to begin. These most recent deadline deals opened up a bevy of spots for the young and hungry. This article will proceed to look at those who have proven themselves in the minor leagues, and should be ready to contribute to their big league club.
OF Kerry Carpenter – Toledo Mud Hens – (DET AAA)
Kerry Carpenter has put together a legit season at the high-minor league levels in 2022. In 371 plate appearances between AA and AAA, Carpenter has excelled as a slugger. After a lackluster .752 OPS 2021 season in AA Erie, he has emerged on the Tigers’ Top 30 Prospect List, and has far outrun his 19th round draft pick pedigree. Detroit has lacked depth in their system for years, and especially lacked homegrown bats taken outside the first round. Carpenter is a rare diamond in the rough of the Al Avila era.
In a Detroit season filled with disaster, Carpenter has been a bright spot with his organization leading 28 home runs. A concern leading up to his promotion was his strikeout-to-walk ratio, but Kerry has raised his walk rate from 6.1% to 11.0%, and he has slashed his strikeout rate from 27.5% to 12.8%. His OPS has risen slightly from the 1.005 he posted in AA to 1.023. Even with his stellar performance in AAA coming in a small sample of only 109 plate appearances, he seems to be ready.
With the historic ineptitude of the Tigers’ major league lineup, and following the trade of veteran corner outfielder Robbie Grossman, Detroit has to capitalize on Carpenter’s monster season and continue his development in The Show. The lack of any substance in the lineup as the seventh season of the rebuild ticks away is disturbing. Kerry Carpenter’s presence could at least cause a break in the Dog Days as Detroit’s Boys of Summer continue to flounder.
IF/OF Enmanuel Valdez – Worcester Woo Sox – (BOS AAA)
The direction Chaim Bloom has taken the Boston Red Sox since arriving as the Baseball Ops Czar is an interesting one. This deadline continued the trend of an organization that seems to be only making moves for the sake of making them. However, even without a firm commitment to a true direction of contending or rebuilding, Boston added a nice talent in Houston’s Enmanuel Valdez.
Acquired along with another prospect in a trade with the Astros for Christian Vazquez, Valdez has an MLB-ready bat along with a versatile defensive skillset. The 23 year old Dominican, who is an admitted Red Sox fan, had posted a 178 wRC+ at Houston’s AA affiliate, along with a 118 wRC+ in AAA Sugar Land. A nice indicator that this production is steady, though, is that Valdez’s AA BABIP was .438, while his AAA BABIP was .306. His ISO has consistently stayed above .250 since the Pandemic, proving that he has a developed bat that’s ready for MLB action.
Valdez wouldn’t replace a specific player in Boston’s lineup, but his talent as a power hitting utility player at such a young age warrants a September call-up, especially with Boston taking the bottom spot in the AL East this late in the season for the first time in five years. If Valdez can replace the struggling Enrique Hernandez as well as give the young Jarren Duran a challenge, any stint in the bigs would be considered a success.
RHP Mike Burrows – Indianapolis Indians – (PIT AAA)
Who would’ve thought that Jose Quintana could still put together the caliber of season he had in Pittsburgh before being dealt to division-rival St. Louis? I’m sure the Pirates are happy that he played well enough to be traded. Whatever the outcome, Pittsburgh knew they’d eventually have to fill that spot in the rotation. The good news is that Mike Burrows, fresh off a scoreless frame in the Futures Game, is a possible option.
The 22 year old right-hander has struggled following his promotion to AAA, but he excelled in his previous stop in Altoona. It seems that Burrows has been hit with a bout of bad batted ball luck. His ERA of 5.33 far outpaces his 3.16 FIP. His opponents’ BABIP is the highest recorded against him in his professional career, and his LOB% of 57.7% is a career low. Burrows is extremely unlucky in AAA at the moment, but his peripheral stats indicate that he will soon find his footing.
Mike Burrows wants to be in Pittsburgh. He wants to kick the notion that the Pirates can’t develop starting pitching, especially pitchers who aren’t predominantly control artists or groundballers. Fellow pitching prospects Carmen Mlodzinski and Quinn Priester are good friends of Burrows. Hopefully for Pirates fans, a call-up of Burrows means that the rebuilding window is over, with more young reinforcements on the way.
RHP Brandon Pfaadt – Reno Aces – (ARI AAA)
The trade of Luke Weaver to Kansas City leaves catcher Carson Kelly as the last piece remaining in Arizona from the Paul Goldschmidt trade in 2018. Weaver’s 7.71 ERA in 2022 leaves much to be desired, however his 2.69 FIP is intriguing, and is most likely why the Royals sought to acquire him. Arizona didn’t lose any real production from Weaver’s departure, but they did open a spot on the major league staff.
The recently promoted Brandon Pfaadt is the perfect late-season call-up for a scuttling franchise. After a weak showing at the AA level last season, Pfaadt’s peripheral numbers were great in Amarillo this season before being called up to Reno. He struck out 12.30 batters per nine innings in 19 starts, while walking less than two batters per nine innings. Pfaadt has a habit of giving up the longball, as indicated by a 3.24 HR/9 in 2021, but he’s curtailed that number in 2022 at only 1.62.
Given that Pfaadt still shows room for improvement at the AA level, I’m not sure he’ll be in Arizona this season. However, the potential he has showcased as a strikeout artist should lead one to believe that he has the talent to succeed in the majors. As of now, ZiPS projections have him being an above replacement level player. It shouldn’t take long for this fast rising prospect in Arizona’s organization to reach the MLB rotation.