By Cliff Corcoran
As we enter the latter part of May, we're quickly approaching the part of the season in which some of the game's top prospects are likely to be called up to the majors. Already in the past week we've seen Cleveland's Bradley Zimmer (22nd on MLB.com's preseason top-100 prospects list) and Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ (22nd) make their Major League debuts, joining late-April additions Cody Bellinger (13th) and Christian Arroyo (89th). Reds lefty Amir Garret (66th) was recalled on Thursday after a brief Minor League assignment designed to limit his workload. With the cutoff for Super Two arbitration eligibility typically falling in early June, there will soon be more rookies on their way, so here's a quick look at some of the elite prospects most deserving of a promotion (all statistics through May 20).
1. Amed Rosario, SS, Mets (5th on MLB's preseason list)
Triple-A: .364/.403/.539, 4 HRs, 2.27 K/BB, 8 SBs (73%)
The Mets lost incumbent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to a thumb injury this week, but assistant General Manager John Ricco insisted on Monday that Rosario was not a candidate to replace him in the near-term. Ricco cited the 21-year-old's youth and scouting reports that still question his ability to hit off-speed pitches, but the real reason is likely the Super-Two cutoff. Ricco told the press that Rosario was starting to see off-speed pitches in fastball counts, and that his ability to adjust to that remained to be seen. Rosario, meanwhile, peeled off six-straight multi-hit games from last Saturday through Thursday.
Whether or not Cabrera is back by the time that cutoff arrives shouldn't matter. Jose Reyes, who is currently filling in for Cabrera, is hitting .190/.266/.317 on the season and could easily be cut to make room for Rosario. Of course, if the Mets wanted to put their best team on the field, they'd call Rosario up immediately.
2. Lewis Brinson, CF, Brewers (18th)
Triple-A: .316/.401/.500, 4 HRs, 1.81 K/BB
The key prospect acquired in last July's Jonathan Lucroy swap, Brinson has done nothing but rake for Colorado Springs since joining the Brewers' organization. True, he's in a very hitting-friendly environment, but with the Brewers suddenly and shockingly in first place in the National League Central and Ryan Braun on the disabled list with a calf strain, the time would seem to be right to give the 23-year-old Brinson his first major league opportunity. Instead, he, like Rosario, has been trapped in Triple-A, most likely due to that Super-Two cutoff.
3. Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (17th)
Double-A: .325/.394/.569, 7 HRs, 1.79 K/BB
OK, it might be a bit of a reach to suggest calling up a 20-year-old just 34 games into his first crack at the Double-A level, particularly when that player is an elite prospect who you want to handle with care. However, the Red Sox's third basemen have hit just .215/.267/.315 on the season, and Boston, the preseason favorite in the American League East, has spent most of the season mired in third place. Most likely, Devers will take over the hot corner in Boston sometime next year at the latest. But why not strike while the iron is hot?
4. Yoan Moncada, 2B, White Sox (2nd)
Triple-A: .331/.401/.504, 6 HRs, 2.53 K/BB, 10 SB (83%)
Moncada would have topped this list had he not just landed on the disabled list with a sore left thumb, the same thumb he injured in October in the Arizona Fall League. As per the numbers above, the thumb clearly wasn't hampering his production for the Charlotte Knights, but the reoccurrence of pain there is a cause for some concern. Still, Moncada is on the 40-man roster, made his big league debut last year for Boston (he was called up directly from Double-A, it should be noted), and would seem to be a lock to assume the White Sox's second base job by mid-June, assuming his thumb recovers by then.
5. Derek Fisher, OF, Astros (83rd)
Triple-A: .325/.384/.588, 10 HRs, 3.00 K/BB
The Astros' outfield picture is rather crowded, and as the team with the best record in baseball, they're not exactly desperate for reinforcements. Still, they're currently carrying a three-man bench, and veterans Nori Aoki and Carlos Beltran have been disappointing thus far. The 23-year-old Fisher is not a true blue-chip prospect (Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus left him off their top-100 lists), but he can play all three outfield positions and would at worst be a nice additional source of left-handed power.
6. Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals (68th)
Triple-A: 1.67 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 25.00 K/BB, 5 GS
Remember in February when I wrote that the Cardinals would have no problem compensating for the loss of Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery thanks in part to having Luke Weaver available as a sixth starter? So far so good on that one. Weaver started the season on the DL with a stiff lower back, but since returning to action, he has allowed just one run, on a solo home run, in five starts. The Cardinals rotation is doing just fine so far, but they'll likely need that sixth man eventually, and Weaver looks ready.
7. Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals (39th)
Triple-A: .327/.412/.538, 5 HRs, 1.28 K/BB
Kelly, who, like Weaver, made his debut late last season, is also ready. The problem is that the Cardinals signed Yadier Molina through his age-37 season on Opening Day. It's unclear exactly what the Cardinals' plan is with those two, but most likely, Kelly will be phased in as Molina starts to decline, something the veteran's current .264/.313/.395 batting line suggests may start sooner rather than alter.
8. Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets (63rd)
Triple-A: .320/.378/.479, 5 HRs, 1.80 K/BB
Lucas Duda is finally healthy again, but he's in his walk year, and the Mets are struggling. The next time he goes down or stops performing, Smith should get his chance. Also, if the Mets turns out to be as sellers at the deadline, dealing Duda and installing Smith at first should be among their top priorities.
Cliff Corcoran is a Sports on Earth contributor and a regular guest analyst on the MLB Network. An editor or contributor to 13 books about baseball, including seven Baseball Prospectus annuals, he spent the last 10 seasons covering baseball for SI.com and has also written for USA Today and SB Nation, among others.