Triple-A is often a holding pen for guys who are on the 40-man roster but not the active one. They’re the contingency guys, the emergency call-ups who’ve seen The Show before and can make a spot start on a moment’s notice. There are plenty of veterans there, too, waiting for one last crack at the majors before hanging up the cleats. Whereas Double-A is full of kids on the rise who are hungry to reach the highest level of baseball, Triple-A can be a less exciting, more volatile environment, so much so that some organizations have opted to skip top prospects right over the level entirely.
Reno has plenty of guys who aren’t exactly prospects on the team, but still have something to prove. You won’t find them below, but Allen Webster, Matt Reynolds and others are still looking to show that they belong at the major league level for good. Webster needs to hone his pitches and Reynolds needs to prove that he’s both healthy and effective. The roster is littered with similar concerns. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any prospects. In fact, there are still a handful of guys to get excited about.
- Yasmany Tomas, 3B/OF
*Four-star prospects represent players with clear major league upside, three-star prospects are players who have tools but indefinite major league upside, two-star prospects are players with intriguing talents but are questionable to reach the big league level
**This post was written prior to Yasmany Tomas’ call-up today (4/15/15)
What to Look For
Yasmany Tomas is the big ticket item in Reno. Yes, he had a disappointing spring to some, but clear back in late 2014, Ryan and I discussed his transition and forecast a trip to the minors. That’s certainly not to say that we had properly evaluated him at that time; almost no one had. But, it is to say that there was plenty of reason to think that the transition might be tough for him and he might need some time to get up to speed. There’s plenty of reason to think he can be an above-average contributor at the plate in the near future and if we look at his trip to Reno as a chance to get him on track while he’s being paid very little (his deal is back-loaded), the situation isn’t dire by any means. Some development is needed and he’ll get it there, out of the spotlight. Hopefully, most of it comes in the outfield as, well, you’ve already heard enough about that situation.
Jake Barrett has long been considered the closer of the future for Arizona, but at this point, he has a lot of competition. Still, he’s closer to the majors than most of the other high leverage options and looks the part. Robbie Ray is presumably on the short list of guys worthy of calling up if the big league club needs a start in short order. Depending on a number of factors, including how they view Webster, Vidal Nuno and Blake Beavan, Ray could be considered for a trail sooner rather than later, especially given that he has more upside than Nuno and Beavan and Webster hasn’t made any strides. Peter O’Brien remains a mystery as to where he fits, but he’s a bat with big league power and strike out concerns. At this point, he may just end up trade bait, but someone who can presumably bring back something of interest.
Kaleb Fleck and Kevin Munson are older relief options who throw hard and are coming off of fantastic seasons in which they either improved (Fleck) or solidified (Munson) their stock. A full MLB bullpen is the only thing standing in their way at the moment. A.J. Schugel has been a starter for most of his minor league career and at least offers multiple innings of work as a swingman type. Evan Marzilli is the perfect fourth outfielder type as he’s a fast and athletic enough to play center field, puts the ball in play and takes an above-average number of walks.
For a Triple-A squad, the Reno Aces still have some intrigue. Tomas is the player everyone is watching, but there’s some high profile, high leverage relief arms and a #4 starter type in Ray. There are utility pieces, as well, something every contending team needs on the roster. While some older, more experienced players are sure to see major league time, this group can push for the 25-man roster at some point in 2015. Whether they get that chance depends heavily on the health and performance of others, but that’s the name of the game when you’re one step away from the majors. Most will get the chance at some point and what they do with it will be exciting to see.
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