Let’s take a look at one player from each organization in the AL Central that deserves to have their contract selected.
Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert
The White Sox paid big money to sign Luis Robert in May 2017, and he has certainly lived up to his worth so far. Robert, just 21, opened the 2018 season at High-A but proved he was too good to stay there by slashing .453/.512/.920 with 24 RBI on 31 hits in 19 games. On the final day of April, Robert was promoted to Double-A Birmingham, where he since has slashed .314/.363/.514 with 27 RBI on 66 hits in 52 games. He came back down to earth, but is still tearing it up.
The biggest think keeping Robert out of the majors is that he is only in Double-A. It is rare for a team — especially one not fighting for a top spot in a playoff race — to promote a guy who started the season in High-A and is now in Double-A to the majors; you just don't see it that often. However, he is 21. While that seems young, it’s worth noting that he turns 22 in just about a month. All of a sudden you have a 22-year-old prospect showing you his potential in Double-A. It is likely that Robert sees himself promoted to Triple-A soon, and then will have his contract selected not long after.
Cleveland Indians: Mark Mathias
Mark Mathias is a name you may not know of as much. He is a second baseman playing for the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. The former 2015 third-round pick has no MLB experience, but he has been impressive as of late in the minors and seems to have proven he deserves a shot at the majors. While his batting average has taken a bit of a hit lately (down to .277), he cracked the .300 mark two weeks ago, and stayed consistently in the .280s and .290s for several weeks. He currently gets on base 35 percent of the time and carries a .446 slugging percentage.
Mathias, who will be Rule 5 eligible in the winter, would likely not be an immediate starter if called up to the majors. Jason Kipnis holds down the fort at second base and, despite struggles as of late, likely wouldn’t lose his job to a first-time major-leaguer. Mathias also has experience at third base, but there’s no way he’d give Jose Ramirez a run for his money.
Detroit Tigers: Willi Castro
Willi Castro is the promising 22-year-old shortstop whose name appears at No. 7 on the Detroit Tigers’ prospects list. Currently at Triple-A Toledo, Castro is boasting impressive stats as he works to get one level higher and make his MLB debut with Detroit. In 74 games with Toledo this season, Castro has slashed .296/.387/.443 with 35 RBI on 85 hits. He has struck out 66 times while walking 35.
Fortunately for Castro, he is on the 40-man roster, so it’s that much easier for him to get promoted to the majors; the only corresponding roster move that would be needed could be as simple as a big-leaguer being optioned or placed on the 10-day injured list. Castro, who could play second base or shortstop, seems destined to make his debut soon, as starting shortstop Niko Goodrum has struggled at the plate — and could also be popular trade bait as he has plenty of time left on his contract, but does not seem to have much of a future in Detroit with Castro chasing him out.
Kansas City Royals: Josh Staumont
Josh Staumont is a promising right-handed pitcher who is nearing a major-league promotion. When that time comes, it'll be the first in his young career. Listed at No. 19 on the Royals’ prospects list, Staumont carries an impressive line at Triple-A Omaha. Through 27 appearances (11 of which were starts), Staumont has been on the mound for 43 innings, allowing just 15 runs on 23 hits and holding batters to a low .156 battering average while striking out 63 opponents and walking 32.
Staumont is listed on the Royals’ 40-man roster, so it would take just a simple roster move for the Royals to bring up their young arm. He’d likely begin his big-league career as a reliever and then the Royals could see from there how to use him. It’s no secret the Royals won't be a playoff team this year, so while there is no need to rush Staumont, this garbage-time baseball action would be the perfect time to experiment with Staumont.
Minnesota Twins: Brusdar Graterol
Brusdar Graterol is the Minnesota Twins’ No. 3 prospect. Graterol joined the twins on August 29, 2014, and he has slowly made it through the ranks on his way to Double-A, and the third spot on the prospects list. Graterol has been on the injured list since May 25 — which will obviously keep him out of the majors until he is healthy — but he posted great numbers while he was active. In nine starts, he went 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA, allowing 10 runs on 31 hits in 47.2 innings. He struck out 46 batters and walked 19 while holding them to a .188 batting average.
In addition to his injury, a couple things are keeping Graterol in the minors. First of all, he is not on the 40-man roster, so for him to be called up, a player would need to be removed from that list. A 40-man roster spot can open up in a couple ways, with some of the most common being designating a player for assignment or transferring someone to the 60-day injured list. The other setback is that he is still in Double-A, which means he would likely need to spend a reasonable amount of time in Triple-A before he gets to the majors.