The major leagues used to be a place where young players had to pay their dues and rot away in the minors, regardless of their talent. Normally, a player drafted would go through multiple levels of the minors and have to wait for an injury or a retirement to make an impact early on in his career. This may be the case still for some organizations with weaker farm systems, like the Phillies or the Giants, but a few clubs have shifted their focus to their youth, and it has paid dividends.
The Baltimore Orioles brought up their top talent Manny Machado at the end of last season and handed the reins over this year to the youngster. He’s responded with a .317 average, 5 HR, 38 RBI and 6 SB, not to mention a slick glove at the Hot Corner. The Birds' also have injected some youth into their rotation giving a cup of coffee to Kevin Gausman, though with less-than-stellar results.
The Los Angeles Dodgers waited about as long as they could, but injuries forced their hand in promoting Cuban defector Yasiel Puig. We know this story already-- unless of course you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the rookie sensation. Puig will be sliding to left field once Matt Kemp returns, which could be as soon as Wednesday. Puig had another multi-hit game on Monday going 3-for-4 with his seventh homer and two RBI, raising his gaudy slash to .442/.476/.753 over his first 18 major league games. It truly is among the best starts in baseball history.
The Pirates have gotten their top pitching prospect a taste of the majors, and now Gerrit Cole is going to force them to make a tough decision once A.J. Burnett returns. Even though they are considering a demotion for Cole, I’m wondering if Charlie Morton could be the odd man out with Cole pitching well. All Cole's done is go 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 8/1 K/BB ratio through his first 18.3 innings. The kid throws awesome-sauce fire and has ace potential.
One more, I promise: The Houston Astros are the front-runners in the youth revival. The whole team salary fits nicely in the back pocket of Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod is making $29M this season alone, while the Astros ' entire team is set to earn $22.06M, with Bud Norris the highest paid at $3M. Finances aside, the Astros have something brewing down there in Houston. They have a core in Jose Altuve, Bud Norris and Jason Castro. If you want to add in the 26-year-old Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez, you have a future that looks fairly bright, assuming they all progress offensively. Then you look at what is waiting in the wings for the ‘Stros and you’ll see names like Jose Cisnero, George Springer, Jake Elmore and Jonathan Villar. There is so much young talent on the horizon for the Astros and it could be coming soon. Cisnero may be the closer-in-waiting if Jose Veras gets dealt and Jake Elmore should be getting the call as soon as Tuesday.
AL Hot Shots:
- Jake Elmore is expected to be promoted by the Astros and will assume the starting shortstop role. Elmore hit .300 with 5 HR, 30 RBI and 16 stolen bases in Triple-A OKC.
- Michael Brantley powered the Indians over the Orioles with 4 RBI and his 5th home run.
- Nick Markakis hit his first June homer, his 8th on the season, and Matt Wieters swatted a solo job of his own for number 10.
- Vinnie Pestano got his 4th save but Chris Perez is expected to return soon. Ubaldo Jimenez improved to 6-4 on the season with the win.
- The Rays went back-to-back-to-back off Jays starter Esmil Rogers as James Loney, Wil Myers and Sam Fuld all went yard in the second inning. Jeremy Hellickson got the W and Fernando Rodney earned his 16th save.
NL Hot Shots:
- Chase Utley hit his first homer since just coming off the DL and his 8th of the season in a losing effort, as the Phillies were eventually topped by the Padres in 10 innings. Cliff Lee was good again, going eight innings and striking out seven with two earned runs. Eric Stults matched Lee most of the night going 7 strong with 2 ER, striking out 4 and walking none. Kyle Blanks was the offensive force for the Padres going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI including a walk off RBI single.
- Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-4 in his return from the DL but the Giants could muster little offense against the Dodgers on Monday. Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed 6.2 solid innings allowing only an earned run on 4 walks and 2 Ks. Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer and Hanley Ramirez knocked in the other Dodger run on the night resulting in a 2-1 victory. Kenley Jansen nailed down save number five.
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