Why the Nationals Need to Re-Promote Trea Turner

The Washington Nationals are currently in first place in the NL East. Although their offense has been relatively solid thus far, it can still be improved. Re-promoting shortstop Trea Turner  is something that the team can do to achieve this.

Turner, 22, is considered one of the Nationals’ top prospects. Originally selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, Turner was eventually traded to Washington in the three-team trade that sent Wil Myers to San Diego. He started out in Double-A with the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, and immediately impressed people in the organization. After just 10 games, the Nationals promoted him to Triple-A Syracuse. Turner played in 48 games for the Chiefs, hitting .314 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. The Nationals called him up to the Major Leagues on August 21, 2015. In 40 at-bats, Turner hit .225.

Instead of having Turner be their starting shortstop to start the 2016 season, the Nationals optioned him to Syracuse once Spring Training ended. Danny Espinosa was named the team’s starting shortstop. Last Friday, Turner was called-up because Ryan Zimmerman needed to be placed on the paternity list. He started at second base that night when the Nationals were in Cincinnati taking on the Reds. In the game, he went 3-for-3 with a walk. However, he did not start for the rest of the weekend. His only other appearance in the series came as a pinch-runner in Saturday’s game. On Monday, the Nationals announced that Zimmerman was reinstated and Turner had been optioned back to Triple-A.

This move definitely came as a surprise to many people in DC. The Nationals could have optioned another player to Triple-A, but instead they chose Turner. Espinosa really hasn’t had a good year. He’s only batting .203 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. In 57 starts at shortstop, he has committed five errors. Despite the fact that Espinosa is hitting just over .200, Nationals manager Dusty Baker has continued to pencil him into the lineup everyday. Part of the reason for this is that he really doesn’t have many other options. Stephen Drew is considered the team’s backup shortstop. His offensive numbers are less-than-impressive as well. Drew is only hitting .207 in 58 at-bats. Besides these two players, Baker really doesn’t have any other options at shortstop. If the Nationals re-promoted Turner however, then he would.     

It’s not like Turner hasn’t been putting up good numbers in Triple-A this season. He’s had 213 at-bats with the Chiefs and is hitting .310 with three home runs and 24 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .377 while his slugging percentage is up to .460 Additionally, Turner has 19 stolen bases. There’s really no reason for the Nationals to keep waiting. Clearly, he’s ready to be promoted for good.

The Nationals are currently in a tight divisional race in the NL East with the New York Mets. If they want to take down the defending division champions, they’re going to need to put out the best offense they can everyday. For that to happen, Trea Turner needs to be with the team and in the starting lineup. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has been criticized for moves he’s made or hasn’t made in the past. This is an opportunity for him to make the right decision. If he doesn’t soon, Nationals fans will certainly continue to be on his case.

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Rookie Watch 2.5

Ok, ok, I know in my last rookie watch post I promised to revisit those candidates in July with an update.

However, and shame on me for not adding this player to my list eariler than now, I felt the recent success of Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara merrited an eariler update.

Also, a few of those former candidates have since cooled down, and as a result didn’t make this new cut.

With that being said, and without further ado, let’s take a look at the top rooks:

 


1. Trevor Story ( SS Colorado Rockies)

Few rookies have captivated fans the way Colorado short stop Trevor Story has this season.

Despite a high number of strikeouts, 81, Story continues to etch himself further into the history books. He now has the most HR by a rookie SS before the All-Star break, with 16, since 1933.

Story is currently slashing .262/.315/.563 to go along with 42 RBI, and will likely remain the Rockies starting SS after veteran Jose Reyes returns to the team.

 

2. Nomar Mazara ( OF Texas Rangers)

Plagued by early injuries this season, the Rangers outfield was in need of assistance. Enter Nomar Mazara.

In 49 games so far this season, Mazara has hit 10 home runs with 27 RBI and a solid .319/.370/.500 slash-line.

Mazara was also honored last month with the American League Rookie of the Month for May, which he also received back in April.

I know I said the same thing about Tyler White last time around, however, it would seem Mazara is on a fast track to becoming the 2016 AL ROY recipient.

 

3. Steven Matz (SP New York Mets)

After a less than desirable first start to the season, Steven Matz has been nothing short of sensational ever since.

In his last six outings Matz is 6-0 with an impressive 1.74 ERA, a microscopic WHIP of 0.96, and 43 SO. Those numbers earned Matz the National League Rookie of the Month honors for May, opposite Mazara.

It appears Matz (25) has joined Jacob DeGrom (27) and Noah Syndergaard (23), as yet another young pitching stud on the Mets staff.

 

4. Corey Seager (SS Los Angeles Dodgers)

Seager flew onto everyone’s 2016 rookie radar after last year’s brief, but impressive, late season stint. And despite a slow start, Seager has recently reminded us why he’s so good.

The young Dodger had his first three HR game against the Atlanta Braves back on June 3rd, and ended the series with a total of five HR. This makes Seager the second youngest MLB player to have five HR in his last three games, and six HR in his last six games in the Modern Era (since 1900 per Elias Sports Bureau)

Seager has slashed for .283/.340/.526 this season with 14 HR (second behind Story for the most by a rook SS since 1933) and 35 RBI.

 

 5. Michael Fulmer (SP Detroit Tigers)

Fulmer has been a rookie on the rise, and is currently riding a 22 and 1/3 scoreless innings streak for the Tigers. Fulmer also owns a 6-1 record with a respectable 2.83 ERA, and 49 SO thus far.

The 23-year-old has provided some needed stability to Detroit’s rotation, which has mostly been carried by veterans Jordan Zimmerman (8-2/2.58 ERA/43 SO) and Justin Verlander (5-5/3.97 ERA/85 SO) this season.

Fulmer will be worth keeping an eye on, and could rival Mazara at seasons end for AL ROY.

 

Honorable Mention: Aledmys Diaz SS STL, Trea Turner SS/2B WSH, Aaron Nola SP PHI, Kenta Maeda SP LAD, Adam Duvall OF CIN.

 

Final Thoughts:

So, for real this time, I’ll provide one last rookie update following the All-Star break in July, before I post my final ROY candidates in both the AL and NL.

Until then, these young guns will give you plenty to watch between now and then.

Rookie Watch 2.0

 

Before the season began, you might recall, I offered a glimpse at possible rookie of the year candidates. Since then, a few relatively unknown rookies have burst onto the MLB scene. One has already made MLB history and the others have some fans asking “Who the heck is (insert player name here)?”.

So, without further ado, allow me to provide you with an updated ROY candidate list:

 

 

5. Kenta Maeda (Los Angeles Dodgers P)

Prior to this season, Maeda spent eight years pitching in the Japanese Central League for the Hiroshima Carp. Nevertheless, this being his first season in the majors with the Dodgers, Maeda is ROY eligible per MLB ruling, and has began his rookie campaign rather nicely.

In his first two starts this season, Maeda has thrown a total of 12 scoreless innings with a 1-0 record and eight strikeouts. Maeda also managed to hit a solo-shot home run in his major league debut, adding to his early success out west. Maeda will be someone to keep your eye on as the season unfolds.

 

4. Corey Seager (Los Angeles Dodgers SS)

In just 27 games and 98 at bats last season with the Dodgers, Seager hit four home runs, 17RBI, and slashed an impressive .337/.425/.561. In 11 games this season the 21-year-old shortstop is off to a solid start with one home run, six RBI, and is slashing .267/.292/.714.

Seager appears to be Los Angeles’ shortstop of the future and will likely be battling with a few of these candidates for the National League ROY award at seasons end.

 

3. Jeremy Hazelbaker (St. Louis Cardinals OF)

Called up by the Cardinals on April 2nd, Hazelbaker has been on a tear to begin the season. In 11 games Hazelbaker is 13 of 32 hitting with three home runs, seven RBI, and a nasty slash line of .406/.432/.844.

If the 28-year-old can keep this pace up, or even produce at half of his current hitting rate, St. Louis will have one of the stronger outfields in the majors this year.

 

2. Tyler White (Houston Astros 1B)

Just when you thought the ‘Stros had all of their young talent on the field and they couldn’t possibly have room for more, enter first baseman Tyler White.

White has hit four home runs with 11RBI, and is slashing .395/.467/.789 through 12 games this season. White appears poised to become the Astros everyday first baseman for 2016, barring any type of major setback.

White may also run away with the American League ROY award as well, unless Minnesota Twins rookie center fielder Bryce Buxton can climb out of his current hitting slump.

 

1. Trevor Story (Colorado Rockies SS)

Story has been nothing short of sensational so far this season. The young Rockies shortstop made MLB history by becoming the only player to hit at least one home run in each of his first four career games, as well as hitting the most home runs in a teams first six games with seven.

Along with his seven dingers, Story has 13RBI and has posted a respectable .292/.314/.833 slash line in 11 games.

Story has undoubtedly caused some Colorado fans to forget about former shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, and will likely edge Jose Reyes for playing time if and when Reyes returns to baseball this season.

 

Honorable Mention: Trea Turner (Washington Nationals SS/2B), Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers 3B/OF), Stephen Matz (New York Mets P),  and Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins P).

 

Final Thoughts:

Sure most, if not all, of these players will regress at some point this season.  But until then, enjoy the highlights while they’re still hot.

I’ll have another rookie revision coming your way once the calendar flips to July, and the season reaches its half way mark at the All-Star Break.

 

Rookie Watch 2016

In 2015 Major League Baseball saw a surplus of young talent emerge that included Kris Bryant (NL ROY), Carlos Correa (AL ROY), Francisco Lindor, Matt Duffy, Roberto Osuna, and that’s just to name a few.

Now that those young stars are entering their sophomore season, lets turn our attention to this years rookie class. Listed below are my top five new guys to keep an eye on in 2016.

 

Young Guns:

 

5. Trea Turner (Washington Nationals)

 

With only 40-at-bats with the Nationals last season, Turner and Washington had a very small sample of what he can do at the next level. In those at bats Turner slashed for .225/.295/.325 with a solo shot home run. While those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, his Triple-A stats from 2015 sure do.

Last season in 116 minor league games Turner had a slash line of .322/.370/.458 with eight home runs, 56 RBI, and 29 steals. Those numbers were good enough to give Turner a chance to compete for playing time this year in Spring Training.

Danny Espinosa is currently slated to start the season at shortstop for Washington, with Turner listed as second on the depth chart ahead of  MLB journeyman Stephen Drew (per MLB.com).

Espinosa, however, is being pulled from his usual position of second base to cover at shortstop for Washington.  This could lead team manager Dusty Baker to try Turner out at shortstop this season, to sure up the infield and shake up the batting order. It will of course be entirely up to Turner what happens next, if given such an opportunity.

 

4. Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers)

 

For a brief moment in 2015 it appeared that the Texas Rangers top prospect, Gallo, was going to be another rookie sensation vying for a ROY award at seasons end. But, while Gallo displayed his power hitting potential with six home runs in just 36 games for Texas, his .204 batting average ultimately led to him being sent back down to the minors (where he polished off  his minor league stats: a .240AVG, 23HR, 41R, and 63 RBI).

Gallo is currently stuck behind both Josh Hamilton in left field, Adrian Beltre at third (Gallo’s more natural position), and even Shin-Soo Choo in right field. But, if he can improve his batting average by making solid contact to go with his power ability, I don’t see why he couldn’t earn a few reps at any of those previously mentioned positions.

Especially when you consider the age of Hamilton (34), Beltre (36), and Choo (33), Gallo (22) can try to capitalize during those starters periods of rest. Much like Turner, Gallo will have to make the most of any opportunities given in 2016.

 

3.  Steven Matz (New York Mets)

 

The New York Mets had a  successful pitching staff last year, that was quite young in terms of major league mound time. A small portion of that success can be credited to Steven Matz. The lefty went 4-0 in his six regular season starts in 2015, posting a  2.27 ERA with 34 strikeouts over a total of 35 innings.

Matz notched three post-season starts as well, and despite an 0-1 post-season pitching record with a 3.64 ERA and 13 strikeouts, the 24-year-old has earned himself the number four spot in the Metz 2016 rotation.

With more chances to start on a regular basis, we should see Matz improve upon last years stats. Making the Mets’ rotation potentially one of baseball’s best in 2016, and possibly for years to come.

 

2. Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins)

 

Before his call-up by Minnesota in late August last season, Buxton slashed a successful .305/.367/.500 line with 22 stolen bases and 45 RBI in 72 minor league games.  Those numbers didn’t exactly transfer over for the remainder of the Twins 2015 schedule, however.

Buxton closed out the 2015 season with a .205/.250/.326 line in 129 major league at bats (just under the at bat requirements to still be considered a rookie this year).

Nonetheless, the Twins believe heavily in Buxton and have named him as the teams starting centerfielder for 2016.  Since Buxton gets a second chance at first impressions with Minnesota, barring a major setback, I think he has the tools, talent, and potential to become the 2016 rookie of the year in the American League.

 

1. Corey Seager (Los Angeles Dodgers)

 

After putting up solid minor league stats in 2015 (.293/.344/.487 with 18HR and 76RBI) , the Dodgers dialed up their top prospect late last season. Seager made the most of his September call-up with Los Angeles , slashing for .337/.425/.561 (also posting an impressive .986 OPS) with four home runs and  17 RBI in just 27 games (98-total-at-bats).

Seager was so impressive, the Dodgers decided to include him on their post-season roster as well. Despite struggling similarly to the way Matz did with the Mets in the playoffs, Seager’s September showing was enough to earn him the starting job at shortstop entering 2016.

Given his short success from last year, it seems only logical to slot Seager as the National League rookie of the year favorite for 2016. With a full season in the majors ahead, it will be interesting to see what his final stat line looks like.

 

While the players listed above made their MLB debut in 2015, they are still rookies entering 2016 per the following MLB rule which states:

“A player will be considered a rookie unless A) he has exceeded 130 at bats, or pitched more than 50 innings in the majors; or B) accumulated more than 45 days on an active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit.”

Because they all fall below the aforementioned statistics, they are all eligible as ROY candidates this season.

 

Final Thoughts:

It’s possible Turner and Gallo may begin the season back in the minors, but baseball is a marathon not a sprint. Meaning over the course of 2016, either may be called upon to fill in for the guy playing just above them. As to whether or not they will make it count when given the opportunity, only time will tell.

Meanwhile for Matz, Buxton, and Seager, the mission is to prove they belong in the big leagues.

Here’s hoping the 2016 rookie race, is an exciting one to watch.