Prospect Notes: Alvarez, Jung, Casas, Rodriguez

There was some concern that Dishes top prospect Francisco Alvarez could require surgery on his ailing right ankle, but the team received relatively good news on that front, tweet Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. While Alvarez does have a loose body in his ankle, he won’t undergo surgery and will instead receive an injection to alleviate some of the discomfort he’s been experiencing. The hope is that Alvarez could resume baseball activities as soon as next week.

Alvarez, 20, ranks among the top ten prospects in all of baseball on the majority of publications and is currently the game’s top-ranked prospect at FanGraphs and MLB.com. He tore through Double-A pitching earlier this season despite being one of the league’s youngest players, hitting .277/.368/.553 with 18 homers and 16 doubles through 296 plate appearances. However, Alvarez stumbled a bit in Triple-A, slashing just .180/.340/.378 in his first 141 plate appearances. His strikeout rate rose from 24% in Double-A to 28.4% in Triple-A. Alvarez hasn’t played in a game since Aug. 23.

A few more notes on some of the game’s top prospects…

  • Rangers fans are (understandably) clamoring for third baseman Josh Jung to make his Major League debut, and general manager Chris Young and interim manager Tony Beasley discussed with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News the team’s decision to hold off on promoting him just yet. Texas is also taking a look at infield prospect Ezequiel Duran, who’s playing third base in the big leagues right now and would be displaced with a Jung promotion. “We have an opportunity to play [Duran] and we just want to take advantage of that until it’s not there,” Beasley said. From a bigger picture vantage point, Jung still has just 83 plate appearances in Triple-A after missing the first four-plus months of the season due to shoulder surgery. Grant points out that Jung still hasn’t gone a full week playing third base every day — he’s spent eight games at DH — and the Rangers will want to see him at the hot corner as much as possible in the big leagues. When Jung originally underwent surgery, the expectation was that he’d miss the majority of the season and perhaps be able to DH for a few weeks late in the year. He’s beaten both the timeline and that DH-only projection, and he’s decimated Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .299/.349/.610 batting line. It still seems Jung will debut in the near future, but Young emphasized the organization is focused on his long-term outlook rather than getting his bat into the big league lineup as soon as possible.
  • while slugger Triston Casas wasn’t among the Red Sox‘ initial September call-ups, manager Alex Cora said on WEEI’s Merloni, Fauria & Mego show this week that the team has discussed giving Casas his first taste of the big leagues sometime this month (Twitter link via Steve Hewitt of the Boston Herald). Casas, 22, missed two months with a high ankle sprain but has been excellent since returning to the lineup in Triple-A Worcester, hitting .300/.410/.515 with five homers, 11 doubles and a triple in 156 plate appearances. The 6’4″, 252-pound first baseman is considered one of the best bats in the minors and ranks 31st or better among all MLB prospects at The Athletic, MLB.com, Baseball America and FanGraphs. The Red Sox will have to add Casas to the 40-man roster this winter in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyway, so there’s plenty of reason to get an earlier look at him.
  • Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez made his first appearance for an Orioles affiliate in three months last night, returning from a Grade 2 lat strain that, at one point, threatened the remainder of his season. Rodriguez threw just 31 pitches in 1 1/3 innings with Class-A Aberdeen and exited after back-to-back walks in the second inning. He told reporters after the game that he’d simply hit the pitch count the organization placed upon his first appearance since June 1 (link via Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com). Considered by many to be the game’s top pitching prospect, Rodriguez overwhelmed Triple-A lineups prior to his injury, pitching to a 2.09 ERA with a 37.4% strikeout rate and a 6.5% walk rate through 56 innings. He’s not on the 40-man roster at the moment, but he’ll need to be added in the offseason or else be Rule 5-eligible, so it’s at least possible the O’s call him up for a big league debut late in the regular season if his rehab work progresses nicely.

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