Matthew Pouliot

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AL September Callups

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Here is the first of two columns previewing this year's September callups, with perhaps some mid-to-late August callups thrown in. I'm going team-by-team, starting with the American League this week. The National League will get similar treatment next week or maybe earlier, if I can swing it.

 

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September callups

 

Baltimore Orioles: In acquiring Scott Feldman and Bud Norris, the Orioles made it obvious they didn't want to give starts to youngsters Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton or veterans Freddy Garcia, Tsuyoshi Wada and Jair Jurrjens down the stretch. Perhaps they'll be a spot start or two available, but likely nothing more than that. ... The likeliest offensive callups are all on the 40-man already: catcher Steve Clevenger, infielders Alex Liddi, Jonathan Schoop and Danny Valencia and outfielders Xavier Avery and Eric Thames. Wilson Betemit, though, could get more playing time than any of those guys once he comes off the DL. Schoop probably won't get a chance to audition at second base unless the Orioles tumble out of the race. He's hit a modest .247/.298/.404 in 178 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk in between injuries.

 

Boston Red Sox: Rather than give Xander Bogaerts a look at third base, the Red Sox went back to Will Middlebrooks on Saturday. He'll probably be a lineup mainstay for the next few weeks, and if he hits, the job will be his for the rest of the season. That's clearly what the Red Sox are hoping for, given Bogaerts' lack of playing time at third base lately. Still, if Middlebrooks struggles, they may have little choice but the go to Bogaerts in September. For what it's worth, Bogaerts was out OPSing Middlebrooks .845-.790 in Triple-A. ... No one else figures to make much of an impact next month. Jackie Bradley Jr. will only be a factor if an outfielder ahead of him gets hurt. Allen Webster should only be a candidate for starts if Clay Buchholz fails to make it back and maybe not then. Daniel Bard hasn't even pitched a game in three months after walking nine in 1 2/3 innings in his final two Double-A appearances.

 

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox just made their biggest callup, summoning Avisail Garcia to replace Alex Rios. He should have considerable AL-only and maybe a little mixed-league value the rest of the way. They also promoted Andre Rienzo in Jake Peavy's place at the beginning of the month. The most intriguing name now is 22-year-old shortstop Marcus Semien, who has continued his hot-hitting in nine games since moving up to Triple-A (.297/.366/.595). Semien, though, isn't on the 40-man roster and might have to wait until next year for his shot. It'd probably take an Alexei Ramirez trade to give him fantasy value anyway. An Adam Dunn deal seems more likely, and if that happens, the White Sox could use Jeff Keppinger at first base and DH, opening up third base at-bats for Brent Morel as they try to figure out whether he or Conor Gillaspie belongs in their plans for 2014. Morel seems like the better bet of the two, though that's not saying a lot. ... The White Sox were able to acquire shortstop Leury Garcia to complete the Alex Rios trade on Sunday, and he'll get a look next month. He's no ready to hit in the majors, though. ... Charles Leesman impressed in his major league debut Friday, and though he was sent back to the minors afterwards, he'll probably get more starts in September. He's not a great long-term bet, but it could take AL hitters some time to figure him out.

 

Cleveland Indians: The Indians don't have a single hitter in Triple-A with an OPS over .800, so there wouldn't seem to be much help on the way offensively. Infielders Cord Phelps (if he's recovered from a wrist injury) and Juan Diaz will be promoted, and a couple of outfielders from the disappointing quartet of Tim Fedroff, Jeremy Hermida, Matt Carson and Ezequiel Carrera could get the call, but there shouldn't be any fantasy value in the group. Ideally, the Indians would pick up another solid part-timer in a waiver deal. ... The Indians are much better equipped on the pitching side, though if Danny Salazar is limited in what he can contribute in September, it would take away their best rotation alternative. Behind him, they still have Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Daisuke Matsuzaka. I actually think Matsuzaka might be the best bet of that group right now; he's posted a 1.93 ERA and a 36/8 K/BB ratio while averaging seven innings an outing over his last six starts.

 

Detroit Tigers: Trading Garcia to the White Sox cleared up the Tigers' outfield situation a bit, but they'll still have to decide whether to give top prospect Nick Castellanos a shot at Andy Dirks' expense. Castellanos has hardly been overwhelming in Triple-A, hitting .278/.350/.438 with 13 homers in 461 at-bats, so it's far from a given that he'd be an upgrade over the current Dirks-Matt Tuiasosopo platoon. Unless he gets hot over the next few weeks -- and Dirks doesn't -- my guess is that Castellanos plays only a bit role in September. But there is time for that to change. ... The rest of the Tigers' likely callups are guys who have already seen time with the club this season. Jose Alvarez is a candidate to make spot starts, and he'll be a decent play in AL-only leagues when those take place.

 

Houston Astros: 30 HR/30 SB man George Springer is probably this September's most anticipated callup. I know I'm eager to see whether he can make enough contact in the majors to thrive against right-handers. The 23-year-old is currently hitting .303/.410/.597 with a 142/68 K/BB ratio in 412 at-bats between Double- and Triple-A. I'm skeptical that he'll be an All-Star in the majors, but he should be an excellent fantasy outfielder with his power and speed. He'll be worth trying in mixed leagues next month. ... The Astros seem less likely to promote first baseman Jonathan Singleton, as he's hitting just .218/.332/.351 in Triple-A. Maybe if he catches fire. Jimmy Paredes will be recalled, but he should take a backseat to Springer in the outfield. ... 24-year-old righty Asher Wojciechowski has earned a crack at the rotation after going 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA and an 82/38 K/BB ratio in Triple-A. He lacks big-time stuff, but he's met every challenge since the Astros picked him up in the J.A. Happ deal with the Blue Jays last year. I wouldn't go picking him up in AL-only leagues.

 

Kansas City Royals: More than any minor leaguers, it's Tommy John returnees Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino that the Royals would like to see contribute in September. Duffy made his season debut in a doubleheader last week, but he was sent down afterwards. If all goes according to plan, neither will be needed as starters next month. However, they are next in line in case someone gets hurt or the decision is made to send Wade Davis to the pen. Both are worth watching. ... If those two come along, the Royals probably won't call on top prospect Yordano Ventura. Another contender might see what Ventura could do in the bullpen, but the Royals are already pretty loaded there. ... The Royals should give Anthony Seratelli a well-deserved bench spot next month. The 30-year-old has played every infield position and right field while hitting .291/.414/.445 for Triple-A Omaha this season. He probably won't have any fantasy value, though. ... The Royals could also stick Johnny Giavotella back into the mix at second base, but they probably won't.

 

Los Angeles Angels: It's been quite the disappointing season for the Angels' top three offensive prospects: Kaleb Cowart, C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk. All three are playing in the Texas League, and the best OPS belongs to Grichuk at .733. Ideally, Cron might have been a candidate to fill in for Albert Pujols at first base next month, but the 23-year-old doesn't look like one now with his .270/.317/.406 line. ... With those three out of the mix and Kole Calhoun and Grant Green already up, the Angels' most intriguing September callup is third baseman Luis Jimenez, who is just returning from a shoulder injury that cost him the chance to replace Alberto Callaspo on the roster earlier this month. Depending on whether the Angels can educate Green on the finer points of third base quickly this month, Jimenez could get most of the starts at third in September. He doesn't have a lot of fantasy upside, but he'd be useful in AL-only leagues if he plays regularly. ... If the Angels had any minor league starters worth trying, they would have made the call weeks ago. They are getting Jason Vargas back after his heart issues, so maybe they won't have a need in the rotation next month.

 

Minnesota Twins: It looks like Oswaldo Arcia has locked up a lineup spot for the rest of the season. Aaron Hicks will be back next month, too, and the plan should be for him to send Clete Thomas to the bench, though one never can tell with the Twins. Hicks has hit just .209/.292/.233 in 12 games since his demotion, and if he doesn't pick it up, he might not get a chance to audition for 2014 next month. Then it'd truly be a wasted year for him. ... Third baseman Deibinson Romero is a possible promotion for the Twins, as the club needs to decide whether he'll be worth carrying on the 40-man this winter. He's helped his stock by hitting .269/.371/.430 in 242 at-bats in Triple-A. If Justin Morneau gets traded, then the Twins could play Romero at third and Trevor Plouffe at first. Otherwise, Romero would be a bench player. ... The Twins have already promoted the pitcher I was most interested in seeing, left-hander Andrew Albers. They'll also bring back Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks, Pedro Hernandez and Vance Worley, if he's healthy. Younger prospects like Trevor May and Alex Meyer will have to wait.

 

New York Yankees: If the Yankees lineup stays relatively healthy from here on in, there won't be much room for callups in September. Outfielders Zoilo Almonte (who is on the major league DL) and Melky Mesa will fight for scraps. David Adams, who was just sent back down on Sunday, could see time at third when Alex Rodriguez sits or DHs. ... Former top prospect Dellin Betances was promoted Sunday in Adams' place after posting a 1.48 ERA and a 63/21 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings as a reliever. He can be pretty lethal against right-handers, and he might turn into a good setup man for the Yankees next year. ... The other pitching callups of interest -- Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno -- are all on the DL and might not be available. Perhaps left-hander Nik Turley will debut. He's gone 8-6 with a 3.89 ERA and a 113/56 K/BB ratio in 111 innings for Double-A Trenton.

 

Oakland Athletics: The A's have thus far resisted the temptation to add Michael Choice or Michael Taylor to their struggling outfield mix. The two have similar numbers for Triple-A Sacramento, with Choice hitting .301/.391/.455 and Taylor coming in at .290/.367/.496.Taylorgot a brief look earlier this year and went 1-for-23. Choice, the younger player by four years, has yet to make his major league debut. It could happen in September, but if the A's wanted to see if he could be an upgrade over Coco Crisp, it would have happened already. ... The A's will also bring up infielders Hiroyuki Nakajima and Jemile Weeks. Nakajima, signed over the winter to be the team's starting shortstop, has hit .281/.339/.365 in 274 at-bats in Triple-A. Weeks is at .276/.387/.373. Neither figures to play a big role. If the A's trusted either, they wouldn't have traded Green for Callaspo before the deadline. ... The much anticipated pitching callup, Sonny Gray, is already up. Tommy Milone will be back, possibly as a starter, but that all depends on how things shake out these next few weeks. Gray will be worth playing in mixed leagues for however long he is in the rotation.

 

Seattle Mariners: Seattle has already integrated most of its position prospects. Jesus Montero obviously won't be back as he serves his 50-game PED ban. Infielder Carlos Triunfel and outfielder Carlos Peguero will be called up, but they'll probably see limited time unless starters get hurt. They shouldn't really be in the plans for 2014 anyway. 21-year-old outfielder Julio Morban is on the 40-man and has put together a nice .300/.363/.473 line in Double-A, but he'll probably have to wait his turn. ... On the pitching side, Taijuan Walker is the prospect everyone wants to see. He's made a case by going 3-2 with a 3.73 ERA and a 40/17 K/BB ratio in 41 innings since a move up to Triple-A, but he has struggled some lately. Also Walker has already matched his career high for innings and he won't need to be added to the 40-man roster this winter. The plan should be for him to debut sometime next summer. ... The Mariners could try James Paxton instead, but he likewise seems to be fading this month. With Brandon Maurer a candidate to make spot starts and Tom Wilhelmsen and Blake Beavan set to return from exile, the Mariners aren't going to need to rely on prospects next month.

 

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have both Leslie Anderson and Vince Belnome hitting .315 with OPSs in the .890s for Triple-A Durham, and it will be interesting to see if they try to work either in. Anderson, a 31-year-old Cuban defector, can play first base and left field, but neither particularly well. He'd probably be more useful to an NL team as a frequent pinch-hitter than to an AL squad. Belnome, 25, has played 49 games at first, 28 at third and 13 at second this year. He was primarily a third baseman in the Padres system before being picked up last winter. He's actually gotten quite a bit worse offensively as the year has gone on, so it seems unlikely that the Rays will carve out a role for him. They're probably going to want him on the 40-man roster this winter, though. ... Former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham should be promoted, but he won't have much to do besides pinch-run. He's hit .284/.350/.395 with 15 steals for Triple-A Durham. ... On the pitching side, the Rays have quality alternatives in Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome for the rotation, but they'll hope not to need either. Alex Cobb's return this week gives them six starters as is.

 

Texas Rangers: Manny Ramirez still qualifies as the Rangers' most intriguing potential callup, but his Triple-A numbers have gone from mediocre in July to abysmal so far in August: he's hit .208 with one RBI in seven games this month. With Lance Berkman hopefully no more than a week away from returning to the lineup, the Rangers might just end up releasing Ramirez at some point within the next few weeks. ... The Rangers will bring back outfielder Joey Butler, who seemed poised to have a role in the outfield before the Alex Rios acquisition. He's hit .290/.375/.437 with 10 homers in 348 at-bats in Triple-A. ... The Rangers won't get Colby Lewis back after all, but they should still have Matt Harrison and Neftali Perez coming off the disabled list to give them a boost in September. The team is lacking in major league-ready pitching prospects in Double- and Triple-A anyway. They do have ex-Dodger Josh Lindblom, and he'll be an option as a spot starter.

 

Toronto Blue Jays: Most of the Jays' Triple-A veterans have been disappointments, including all of the bats on the 40-man roster. First baseman Mauro Gomez does have 28 homers, but he's hitting just .243 with a .316 OBP and he doesn't have any defensive value to speak of. Anthony Gose was supposed to be the Blue Jays' center fielder of the future, but he's hit just .239/.314/.340 and he's even been thrown out on 13 of his 30 steal attempts. Gose will get the call in September and he may see a fair amount of playing time in left, depending on Melky Cabrera's health, but it's going to be hard for him to work his way into the team's 2014 plans. ... Tommy John returnees Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson could join Todd Redmond as candidates for starts down the stretch, but none would be particularly good bets in AL-only leagues. Drabek has a 2.83 ERA and a 23/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings in the minors so far, but those are mostly A-ball numbers and he's yet to pitch more than four innings in a game. The 23-year-old Hutchinson just made his first Triple-A start on Friday and gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings. Overall, he's allowed 11 earned runs and posted a 23/8 K/BB ratio in 20 innings.



Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
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