First Pitch: Would You Call Up Ke’Bryan Hayes This Year?

You run a prospect site for over a decade, and you get used to hearing fans saying “CALL HIM UP!” regarding the top prospect.

It almost becomes instinctive. The team is one of the worst in the league? Call him up! He can’t be any worse.

The team is one of the best in the league? Call him up! They need him.

The player at his position is struggling, no matter the sample size? Call him up! Don’t delay the inevitable.

The prospect is hitting well in Triple-A in April? Call him up! He’s only down for Super Two anyway.

That last one is what always got me. Most calls to call up a top prospect are based on the prospect’s future potential, and the hope that you’ll see that potential immediately. That’s very apparent when you’re using a small sample size of stats to argue that a player doesn’t need any more development time, and it’s apparent when you argue that a player can just skip over a level of the minors entirely.

Then you’ve got the 2020 season, which is hardly a season at all, and has no minor league baseball to evaluate how a prospect is performing. Even worse, the injuries have been so rampant for the Pirates that they’ve barely been able to get hitters regular game work at their alternate training location.

Any call for a prospect to come up at this point is based entirely on that prospect’s projected upside, with only a shot in the dark hope that the prospect is ready for the majors right now, with no regular work in the minors, and skipping over levels that prospect would have normally played at this year.

Ke’Bryan Hayes might have been up by now in a non-COVID season, but that season would have seen him playing in Triple-A at the start of the year. It also might have seen him playing 100 games, rather than half of a 60 game season.

Jared Oliva probably wouldn’t have been up this year for a long period, unless he absolutely crushed in Triple-A, with the same MLB results from the outfielders. The same situation applies: Maybe he plays 60 games in a normal season, but now we’re 20 games into a 60 game season.

In the past, there were service time and Super Two issues that held a prospect back. I’m not sure that should be a concern, as we’re talking about the impacts 3-6 years down the line, and MLB could have an altering Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation this offseason which would alter those rules.

The Pirates are also the worst team in the league, and there are long-term benefits to remaining the worst team in the league, which runs counterproductive to bringing up prospects with the hope of improving.

I see the argument for bringing up guys like Ke’Bryan Hayes in a sad, shortened, unsuccessful shell of a season. The world in general sucks right now, and any type of joy — even watching the debut of a prospect you’ve followed for five years — is a welcome sight.

I also see the argument for keeping him down. He hasn’t played real games this year, so you’re hoping against all hope that he’s ready to play right now, when the biggest value he can provide is putting a band-aid over this gushing wound of a season.

I’ll leave it to you guys in the comments: Would you call up Ke’Bryan Hayes — or any other prospect — this year?


First Pitch