Starling Marte has been improving stepwise in Indianapolis, to the point that we all well know that he's coming to Pittsburgh in the near future.
Realistically though, he's the only significant position player at AAA - first base is a hodgepodge of driftwood (Hague, Clement, and *ugh* Jeff Larish), the middle infield isn't exactly lighting the world on fire (Mercer is the best of the bunch, and he's ostensibly disappeared after crossing the breach into the majors). Same goes for third base - Jake Fox and Yamaico Navarro aren't exactly holding anyone back. In the outfield, there are mediocre options; I love Presley, but he's probably a 4th OF - as is Gorkys, given his bat. Tabata is still figuring out whatever his issues are, and Brandon Boggs is org filler.
So why not promote some guys from AA to give them more of a challenge? I think a strong case can be made for at least a few.Robbie Grossman is in his age 22 season, and on the surface his .251/.363/.399 is nothing terribly impressive, certainly not enough to bother moving him beyond Altoona this season - but look closer:
July is still an early and small sample size, but even without that, all parts of his slash line have improved every month. His strikeout rate hasn't changed dramatically (but is better than it has been in the past), but his walk rate has also improved each month. Looks like a guy who is figuring out AA and is about to break through the ceiling to me.
Quincy Latimore, on the other hand, I may have to temper my excitement about. His age 23 season also doesn't look great, with a .250/.309/.435 slash line being even less impressive for a player a year older who is repeating the level. What about the details for him?
This is a different case. His overall season line is sucked down by a pretty awful April, but he has been more or less consistent since May 1st. His walk rate has slowly crept up, and his OBP has gone with it, but unfortunately his strikeouts have crept up at the same time. Perhaps this is a case of promoting a guy who is WYSIWYG at this point? I know he's probably a classic "insufficient power for a corner outfielder, and insufficient speed for a CF" guy, but when you plateau, you plateau - move on.
What about our high draft pick Matt Curry? He missed a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury at the beginning of last month, and since returning he has been absolutely ripping the cover off the ball. His .407/.453/.746 line in 16 games back is impressive, but what about before that? He posted a .267/.313/.465 line in the month of May, but had gone 8-for-23 with four doubles in the week prior to his injury.
Then there is Brock Holt, the guy who was the impetus for this Fanpost to begin with. This is also Brock's age 23 season (though he turned 24 about a month ago), and he too is repeating AA. Compared to Latimore, though, he has not struggled nearly as much - last season or this season. His numbers are similarly progressive (save July, which looks weird because it's early and he hasn't hit the last couple of days):
His progression hasn't been as clearly linear as Grossman or Latimore. His walk rate (and subsequently his OBP) fell through the floor in May, but he recovered very nicely last month and continued to keep his strikeout totals low. The boy now has a .316/.378/.444 line for the season, and a .298/.361/.408 line across 878 PA's at the AA level. I don't think that Jordy Mercer, Chase D'Arnaud, or certainly not Brian Friday should be keeping him from being promoted at this point.
Others: Adalberto Santos has produced at every level, and needs to keep hitting after his injury in order to make it to Indy and remain a prospect; Stefan Welch is 23 and is crushing the ball at Altoona, but it's the first real success he's had at any level of the minors - partly, I imagine, from a suddenly gleaming K/BB ratio; Kelson Brown is hitting well at Altoona, but it's far better than he's hit at previous levels, and his numbers are even better since April - but he's only got 100 AB's on the season.