In most cases, it takes baseball players three seasons to gain salary arbitration eligibility. But in a certain cases, a player can be eligible after only two seasons if he has at least 86 days of service over the course of the preceding season with a major-league club, provided he also ranks in the top 17 percent in total service time in that class of players.
If a player's contract then runs out and he and the team can't agree on a new contract, his salary is decided by an arbitration board. If the board rules in the player's favor, he could get an inflated contract with only two years of major-league experience.
The "Super 2" deadline is a moving target but typically falls around this time of year. That typically means there's a big flurry of prospect call-ups once clubs know that they can safely bring players up without the worry of them being arbitration eligible in two years.
Why pay attention? People around baseball started really taking note of the "Super Two" rule when Tim Lincecum became arbitration eligible after the 2009 season with less than three full years with the Giants. It was around then that people also took note of the financial consequences of bringing a player up too early in the season. In Lincecum's case, it cost the team millions of dollars in arbitration. On the other hand, the Nationals kept Stephen Strasburg in the minors last season for so long because they wanted to push back his eligibility for arbitration, potentially saving the team millions of dollars.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays | Age: 24 | Triple-A Stats: .285, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 12 SB
It’s been assumed since the off-season when the Rays lost Carl Crawford that eventually Jennings would be his long term replacement. So far in Triple-A, Jennings has been making his case in a big way. The power has taken off for Jennings of late, and he still has the electrifying speed and athleticism to go with it. Jennings has a more advanced hit tool than Crawford did at the same stage in their careers, and the Rays appear to have made the right move by allowing him to get a couple months of extra seasoning in Triple-A. It should be a matter of days or weeks before we see him in the bigs.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays | Age: 21 | Triple-A Stats: .354, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 11 SB
You’d be hard pressed to find a prospect who has performed better at the plate this year than Brett Lawrie. He’s hit for power, average, and even done some damage on the base paths. This is the total package of an offensive player scouts have long predicted Lawrie would become. He has put it all together, and the only real question that remains is how his defense will hold up long term. Currently Lawrie is sidelined with a broken left hand and that’s the only thing keeping him from being in the big leagues right now. Upon his return, likely to happen in early July, he should be in Toronto almost immediately.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners | Age: 23 | Triple-A Stats: .297, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 6 SB
The former number two overall pick took some time to get off the ground offensively when he debuted last year, but it’s very clear now that Seattle is getting exactly what they expected when they drafted him. And, it appears that they are poised to bring him up very soon. Ackley has a highly advanced hit tool, and good athleticism and range that should benefit him playing up the middle in the big leagues. Considering Ackley’s pedigree and advanced feel at the plate, this shouldn’t be a player that will take too much time to adapt at the Major League level. Expect him to show up on the Mariners' roster any day now.
Kyle Gibson, P, Minnesota Twins | Age: 23 | Triple-A Stats: 3-6, 71.1 IP, 3.79 ERA, 74/17 SO/BB
Since his days in college, Gibson has been a very advanced pitcher. And, he continues to rack up consistent results at the minor league level here in 2011. Gibson is not overpowering but will generally live around 89-91 mph with his fastball and get up to 92-93 at times. But, it’s his secondary arsenal and his command of his pitches that make him so big league ready. He’s the owner of a plus slider and a plus changeup, both of which he’s comfortable throwing in just about any count. Minnesota is willing to take it slow with Gibson, but it will be hard to keep him in Triple-A much longer. We should see him by the end of July pitching in the Twins’ rotation.
Jesus Montero, C, New York Yankees | Age: 21 | Triple-A Stats: .293, 5 HR, 25 RBI
The Yankees have had opportunities to bring Montero to the big leagues since spring training but have yet to pull the trigger. Montero hasn’t exactly made it difficult for them, however. He struggled in spring training and has been stuck in a deep slump for a couple weeks now. There has even been some further concern about his overall attitude and approach since he didn’t go north with the club out of spring training. When it comes down to it, however, the expectation is that Montero will take off in the summer months like he did last year. Considering his overall numbers are still pretty solid, once he gets hot, his production numbers will look gaudy in a hurry. If he can heat up, show continued progress behind the plate, and display a better overall demeanor, considering the current Yankee injury woes, they may not be able to keep him Triple-A beyond the end of July.
Julio Teheran, P, Atlanta Braves | Age: 20 | Triple-A Stats: 6-1, 63.2 IP, 1.98 ERA, 57/18 SO/BB
The baseball world got a brief look at just how special Teheran could be in his cup of coffee for Atlanta last month. Since then he’s just continued to mow down Triple-A opposition and pitch like a man among boys despite being just 20-years-old. But it’s not just about the numbers for Teheran. The stuff is as good as any pitcher in professional baseball. His fastball sits anywhere between 92-97 mph and he shows confidence in two plus secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. On top of that, Teheran has excellent command for a pitcher his age. The tall righty is simply biding his time in Triple-A now. He’s ready for the show right now and ready to pitch at a very high level.
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