For baseball’s top prospects Major League Baseball’s Super Two clause can be both a blessing and a detriment. It can give a top young player the chance to make more money sooner, but it can also give a small market team the necessary encouragement to refrain from calling up said prospect.
For those of you not familiar with the Super Two clause, it reads as follows (H/T MLB.com):
In addition, a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.
That extra year of arbitration is a huge sticking point for some teams, notably the Tampa Bay Rays, the Miami Marlins, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and other small market teams that want to secure an extra year of control on a player, but not have to see his salary skyrocket toward the end of his arbitration period.
So rather than expose said prospects to Super Two status, the respective GM’s above watch the calendar carefully, taking advantage of a player’s Minor League options and stashing them at Triple-A or lower until that 86 days is no longer a concern. Sometimes the needs of the team are too great to take the risk, but other times it is a worthy gamble.
Well, the Super Two window is about to close, and it will soon become a free for all for some of these prospects to finally get their shot and help their teams win. But who will be getting the call:
Wil Myers – Outfielder – Tampa Bay Rays
Myers has long been considered one of the top prospects in the game, so when Tampa acquired him in the James Shield deal this winter, it wasn’t a matter of if he’d be called up, but when Tampa would pull the trigger. The slugging outfielder didn’t help his own case when he struggled out of the gate, but he’s made things tremendously hard on Tampa lately. After Sunday’s play, Myers sits in Durham with a .286 average with 12 home runs, 56 RBI, and a .874 OPS in 57 games with the Bulls. With Rays right fielders ending the day on Sunday ranked 14th in the league with a .236 batting average, 16th with 7 home runs, and 21st with a .701 OPS in 2013, they could certainly use the boost.
Gerrit Cole – Starting Pitcher – Pittsburgh Pirates
It seems like the former number 1 pick (2011) has been knocking on the door ever since being drafted, but only now are the Pirates ready to answer the call. And with Cole, we know that call has already come, with the right-hander set to make his Major League debut on Tuesday when he draws the start for the Pirates against the San Francisco Giants. He’s been solid across 12 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2013, posting a 5-3 record with a 2.91 ERA. His strike-outs are a bit down this season, currently sitting a 6.2 K/9 and his BB/9 are up at 3.7, but the Pirates are in need of a starter and are willing to let him work that out at the Major League level for now.
Zack Wheeler – Starting Pitcher – New York Mets
Wheeler can thank the dominance of Matt Harvey for helping offset the Mets’ desperation to get him into the rotation, but it appears that Sandy Alderson has stalled the New York media long enough. According to a New York Daily News report, the Mets will likely call-up Wheeler to make his debut in front of his hometown in Atlanta. Talk about trial by fire! That said, Wheeler can likely handle it. He’s been impressive in what is likely the best hitter’s environment in baseball, holding a 4-1 record, a 4.14 ERA, and 9.4 K/9 ration at Triple-A Las Vegas. Now we can finally see what the Mets stole from San Francisco in the Carlos Beltran trade two years ago.
Nick Castellanos – Outfielder – Detroit Tigers
The Tigers took a big risk by sticking with Andy Dirks as their everyday left fielder in 2013. For such a potent line-up, Dirks has been somewhat of a hole they’ve been unable to fill, and Matt Tuiasosopo is not the long-term answer; Nick Castellanos is. The 21-year-old has followed up his Futures Game MVP in 2012 with a great start in Triple-A Toledo where he is hitting .295 with 10 home runs, 34 RBI, and an .862 OPS through Sunday. With Detroit in the middle of another playoff push, Castellanos may be the final piece they need in that potent line-up.
Alex Meyer – Starting Pitcher – Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins rank 29th in ERA from their starting pitching in 2013, and things don’t appear to be getting any better. Why not give Alex Meyer a shot to show what he’s got. The 23-year-old right-hander was acquired in the Denard Span deal with the Nationals this past winter and has been solid for Double-A New Britain, posting a 3-3 record with a 3.69 ERA and a solid 10.8 K/9 ratio. That said, the Twins may choose to Kyle Gibson first and give Meyer another season at an advanced level before exposing him to the Major Leagues.
George Springer – Outfielder – Houston Astros
The 23-year-old Springer is relatively inexperienced at the professional level, having only 194 games under his belt. However, inexperience shouldn’t discount what he’s done in that short period of time. The Astros center fielder of the future is ready to stake his claim on the position this year, having produced exceptionally at Double-A Corpus Christi with a .307 average, a 1.035 OPS, 17 home runs, 49 RBI, and 17 stolen bases. The tools are legit and the Astros aren’t going anywhere in 2013. Time to give the fans something to cheer for and Springer is the first taste of a better future.
Sources: Zack Wheeler Expected to Make Met Debut, New York Daily News
MLB Players Association FAQ, MLB.com
All Statistics, Baseball-Reference.com