By: Chris Larson
September 1st always marks a critical postmark in the game of baseball. Not only does it represent the start of the final month of the regular season or the final month for those teams in contention to make a final push towards the playoffs, it also represents the opportunity that many up-and-coming players have to join the big league club and get a chance to play in the major leagues.
The players that do get the opportunity to join their respective major league squad, not only get the chance to garner some excellent exposure and experience playing at the major league level, but help their squad down the stretch. Sometimes it can be in situations as little as needing a pinch runner in a critical part of a September game or pitching to one batter in relief, it's still the opportunity to accomplish these things and start gaining that experience that matters the most for many of these young individuals.
However, one thing to remember is that anyone that gets a September call-up must already be on a team's 40-man roster. If a team wants to call-up a player that is not on their 40-man roster, then they must make a move to put that player on the roster and make the transaction happen.
Here are the biggest names to watch and individuals who are likely to receive a call-up to the bigs in the near future for all 30 clubs.
1. Houston Astros: OF Kyle Tucker - Earlier this season, outfielder Kyle Tucker got passed over in favor of exciting rookie, Yordan Alvarez. Now that the Houston Astros have the opportunity to expand their major league roster, they will have yet another valuable weapon to add to their lineup. Tucker has a ton of potential and while some in the Astros organization have been hesitant in the past about his overall work ethic, you know he's the real deal when their General Manager, Jeff Luhnow, refuses to trade him for players like J.T. Realmuto, Gerrit Cole, and Justin Verlander. Eventually, Tucker will be an everyday component of the Houston Astros outfield mix and still has tons of potential at ripe young age of 22.
2. Los Angeles Angels: RHP Luis Madero - Pitching has still been a significant problem for the Los Angeles Angels this season and that means that they will likely focus on calling up some of their pitching prospects to get a look at them as they start to plan for next season. Of the pitching prospects to get the callus, RHP Luis Madero could be an exciting one to watch. Madero comes with a three-pitch mix and many scouts believe that he will ultimately end up being a nice option at the back end of the Angels starting rotation, potentially as soon as next season. The Angels are going to probably focus on bolstering their starting rotation with pending free agent, Gerrit Cole, a legitimate target, but it never hurts to have plenty of internal pitching help either.
3. Oakland Athletics: LHP Jesus Luzardo - The Oakland Athletics number 19 overall best prospect, LHP Jesus Luzardo, figures to be a big component of the Athletics future and is going to get a tremendous opportunity to show what he can do here over the final month of the regular season. Unfortunately, this season didn't go as planned for Luzardo as he dealt with a lat strain for a lot of the season, but he is still a critical pillar for the Athletics moving forward. In fact, just last night, Luzardo tossed the longest outing of his minor league career and recorded a career high 10 strikeouts over six innings. Of the 93 pitches that Luzardo threw, 53 of them counted as strikes meaning that he can be a terrific strikeout option for the Athletics down the stretch, as they continue to make the push for October. As any postseason bound team knows, you can never have enough pitching depth and if Jesus Luzardo is able to provide that for the Oakland Athletics, then it will only be a nice boost.
4. Seattle Mariners: 2B Shed Long - Second baseman, Shed Long, figures to be a vital pillar for the Seattle Mariners as they move forward in their rebuild and transition to a new brand of baseball. As such, the Mariners are going to want to see what Long can do at the major league level and this is going to be the perfect opportunity to audition him at second base and see what his offensive numbers, defensive numbers, and overall athleticism looks like. Granted, the Mariners still have Dee Gordon as their everyday second baseman, but it's time to start clearing playing time for the young players coming up through the system. So far this season in Triple-A, Shed Long has posted a (.801) OPS over 213 at bats along with 59 hits, 7 doubles, 4 triples, 8 home runs, 35 RBI, 20 walks, and 62 strikeouts. Shed Long did get called up to the big league squad earlier this season, but is another chance for Long to show what he can do at the big league level.
5. Texas Rangers: LHP Locke St. John - After such a promising start to the season, the Texas Rangers have fallen off the map and must focus entirely on the future while trying to identify key pieces that will be apart of the next great Texas Rangers ball club. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they don't have a lot of impactful prospects at the high end levels of the minors so they might not be one of the most exciting teams to watch when it comes to September callups, but if there is one name to monitor it is lefty, Locke St. John. St. John will likely get looks as a middle-inning reliever and could be a potential left-handed weapon for the next great Texas Rangers bullpen. Earlier this season when St. John was thrust into big league action, he posted a 5.40 ERA over 6.2 innings of work with five strikeouts.
1. Chicago White Sox: OF Luis Robert - The Chicago White Sox have built up a really exciting farm system full of young and exciting prospects over the past few years. As such, they have some great talent on the way and one of those talented pieces is outfielder, Luis Robert. Robert is definitely deserving of a big league call-up and should get a shot to prove himself at the big league level, but there is one significant hurdle. Robert currently is not on the 40-man roster and there is no indication that the White Sox plan on adding him to it until sometime this offseason. However, in the event that the White Sox do indeed add Luis Robert to their 40-man roster, he is going to provide a great shot in the arm for their already young team and will have the chance to showcase his abilities in the outfield. Robert has primarily played centerfield during his minor league career would present Chicago with an upgrade over current centerfielder, Adam Engel.
2. Cleveland Indians: 1B Bobby Bradley - With the pitching depth that the Cleveland Indians already have and the amount of arms that are expect back very soon in both Carlos Carassco and Corey Kluber, they will likely look to add some more offense to the mix. With that being said, one name to watch for Cleveland is first baseman, Bobby Bradley. Bradley is already a part of Cleveland's 40-man roster and has plenty of pop to make a justifiable case to be an everyday part of the Indians lineup. Bradley, who is the Indians number 7 overall best prospect, did appear in 15 big league games already this season and has a (.919) OPS through 391 at bats at Triple-A so far. Ultimately, some scouts wonder if Bradley will end up staying at first base moving forward as some see him better suited for a Designated Hitter role, but regardless now is the time for the Indians to try to start to figure out what the future holds.
3. Detroit Tigers: SS Sergio Alcantara - Unfortunately, the Detroit Tigers do not have many openings on their 40-man roster, but that doesn't mean that there won't be at least a few callups to continue focusing on the future. One of the names that will likely receive a callup is shortstop, Sergio Alcantara. Alcantara doesn't necessarily profile to be an everyday shortstop at the major league level, but many scouts rave about his defensive instincts up the middle and that could mean that he ends up being a valuable late-inning off-the-bench guy for the Tigers, as he builds up experience playing at the big league level. One drawback about Sergio Alcantara, according to scouts, is that his bat has profiled to be fairly light so far in the minor leagues, but given that he is still only 23 years old, there is still time for him to develop and develop greater bat skills.
4. Kansas City Royals: LHP Richard Lovelady - The guy with one of the best names in baseball was really bad during his callup to the big league club earlier this season posting a 7.65 ERA over 20.0 innings of work, but has been terrific down in Triple-A pitching to the tune of a 2.19 ERA with 27 strikeouts over 24.2 innings pitched. Luckily for Lovelady, he still projects to be an impactful component of next years Royals bullpen so he should get another chance to prove what he can do at the big league level. When the Royals traded lefty, Jake Diekman to the Oakland Athletics last month, some of the thinking behind that move was to likely give Lovelady some innings to appear in come September. A little over a week ago, Richard Lovelady was officially optioned back down to Triple-A, but his stint there should be relatively short assuming that the Kansas City Royals want to give him another look at the big league level over the month of September.
5. Minnesota Twins: LHP Devin Smeltzer - Devin Smeltzer, who already got called up to the big leagues earlier this season, appeared in 7 games with 4 of them coming as a starter and the other 3 as a reliever. Over that span, Smeltzer posted a 4.00 ERA with a (4.64) FIP and 27 strikeouts. Given the fact that the Twins still have to keep an eye on the Indians in the American League Central in terms of winning the division, Smeltzer could be a terrific weapon to have through the month of September. The Twins could use him as apart of the starting rotation or in relief, if the bullpen is in need of additional rest on certain days, which is a terrific commodity to have. Smeltzer features a nice four-pitch repertoire that is highlighted by his 89 MPH four-seam fastball along with his 84 MPH slider which could play in either the starting rotation or the bullpen for the Twins down the stretch. Another potential scenario that exists for Devin Smeltzer and the Minnesota Twins relates to the matchup factor and the ability for the Twins to mix-and-match to try to get as many wins as possible.
1. Baltimore Orioles: 1B Ryan Mountcastle - One of the things working against the potential of first baseman, Ryan Mountcastle, getting a September callup is the fact that he is currently not on the 40-man roster, but he is a bright piece of the Orioles future. In fact, Mountcastle just received International League MVP honors in the minors and has gone through a shift in position a couple of different times during his minor league career including stints at third base, shortstop, and now first base. So far this season through 508 at bats, Mountcastle has a batting line of: .309/.341/.530 with 25 home runs and 81 RBI meaning that the power is legit and could certainly play at the big league level. As it stands right now, Ryan Mountcastle ranks as the Orioles fourth best overall prospect and does a really good job of keeping his hands inside on the ball to create extension throughout the strike zone. It will be fascinating to see if the Orioles ultimately decide to call him up and if they do, how Mountcastle ends up performing at the big league level.
2. Boston Red Sox: RHP Trevor Kelley - Trevor Kelley, also known as the fastball-breaking ball combo guy coming up through the Red Sox farm system, should definitely be under consideration for a September call-up. Earlier this season, Kelley pitched one inning of relief for the big league club, which did not go well as he gave up three earned runs and recorded only one strikeout, but he is expected to be a major component of next year's Red Sox bullpen. At the start of this season, the bullpen was what dominated the headlines when it came to anything related to the Boston Red Sox, but it has been their strength over the course of the past couple of months. In the past, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, has stated that he wants to have more internal pitching options to utilize at the big league level and Trevor Kelley is certainly a good one. As such, now is the perfect time to give him another shot at the big league level and start grooming him for an impactful role come 2020.
3. New York Yankees: RHP Adonis Rosa - The obvious name to watch for the New York Yankees would be their number one overall prospect, RHP Deivi Garcia, but due to a lack of openings on the 40-man roster, it seems very unlikely that the Yankees would pull the trigger and thrust him into big league action now. Therefore, the more likely option would be right-handed pitcher, Adonis Rosa, who could eat up innings at the back end of the Yankees starting rotation and provide New York with some much needed depth down the stretch. The Yankees have dealt with a myriad of injuries all season long so it only makes sense that they would focus on calling up a starting pitching prospect to help ease some of their starting rotation woes and provide depth heading towards October. Over 102.2 innings of work in the minor leagues this season, Adonis Rosa has put up a 4.03 ERA with (88) strikeouts. Not only does Rosa still have plenty of potential at the age of 24 years old, he is a strike thrower and knows how to work around the zone in an attempt to get out the opposing teams hitters.
4. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Peter Fairbanks - All indications point to the Tampa Bay Rays going pitching-heavy with all of their September callups meaning that there is going to be a bountiful new group of pitchers called up to the big leagues. As a result, the Rays will get to play the matchup game throughout September, as they prepare for a potential postseason berth and will get the chance to see exactly who they want to include on their postseason roster, should they clinch. As the Rays have shown in the past, matchups give them a competitive advantage over other teams and they need to be open to experimenting with new ideas to try and win as many games as possible. One name to watch is Peter Fairbanks, who Tampa Bay got back in last month's trade involving Nick Solak, who features a terrific fastball-slider combo. Eventually, the Rays believe that Fairbanks will end up turning out to be a terrific late-inning option for their bullpen.
5. Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Yennsy Diaz - The Blue Jays have some promising arms that will be a key part of their future in, right-hander Nate Pearson and left-hander Anthony Kay, but it seems unlikely that either one will be added to the 40-man roster anytime soon. Given that, one name to watch for Toronto is right-hander, Yennsy Diaz. Diaz is already a part of the 40-man roster and comes with a fastball, that sits in the upper-90's, along with two breaking pitchers which could make for a nice look in the Blue Jays bullpen moving forward. So far this season, over 137.1 innings of work at Double-A, Diaz put up a 3.87 ERA with 108 strikeouts. Looking ahead to next season, the Blue Jays need to concentrate on trying to identify pieces of their pitching staff that can be effective at the big league level and try to give those names as many opportunities to showcase themselves now as possible.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: 1B Kevin Cron - Kevin Cron already appeared in the major leagues earlier this season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Dbacks are going to need to decide if they want to have him as their primary first baseman moving forward or current first baseman, Christian Walker. An argument can definitely be made for both Walker and Cron which is why now is the right time for Arizona to try to come to a consensus. However, that's a good problem for any team to have especially the Arizona Diamondbacks who have struggled with having enough prospect/farm system depth over the past couple of years. Kevin Cron certainly has enough power and pop in his bat to be a legitimate everyday option at first base with Arizona, as illustrated by his 38 home runs with Triple-A this season, and as such could be a terrific bench option for the Dbacks as they look to remain in the National League Wild Card hunt.
2. Colorado Rockies: 3B Josh Fuentes - Yes, the Colorado Rockies already have quite a stud at third base in Nolan Arenado, but they have a very young and exciting third baseman coming up in their system, who happens to be the cousin of the aforementioned Nolan Arenado, named Josh Fuentes. Fuentes isn't going to take the spot of Arenado anytime soon, but he has elite defensive skills and has shown that he is well deserving of a callup to the big league club. One potential for the Rockies is to play him at first base and see how he fairs over there with his defense and to see if the combination, with him at first base and Arenado at third base, works moving into 2020. Of course, the Colorado Rockies currently have Daniel Murphy as an option at first base, but given the struggles of this year's Rockies team, Colorado needs to focus on trying to build the best team possible. If that means giving the opportunity to Josh Fuentes and allowing his bat to play at the big league level, then that's what they should focus on doing.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers: SS Gavin Lux - The Los Angeles Dodgers are already very heavy in the position player category, but have a terrific middle infield prospect in Gavin Lux who will likely get a September callup, even if it means just being with the big league club and getting exposure around everyday big league players. The Dodgers have already discussed that option, but their plans involving Lux might have changed a bit, following yesterday's news that Max Muncy was going to the Injured List with a right wrist fracture. Los Angeles was expecting Muncy to play a significant role in the fate of the team through the month of September and of course come October, but depending on the severity of the injury as well as any unforeseen issues with the recovery process, those plans might change somewhat. As such, Gavin Lux will be a great commodity for the Dodgers to have throughout September and it might be a nice shot in the arm for both their lineup as well as the overall success of the team.
4. San Diego Padres: C Austin Allen - The San Diego Padres are in a very similar position as the Chicago White Sox in that they have a very deep and talented farm system and one that is going to continue to produce for many seasons here in the near future. Therefore, the Padres will likely make several September call-ups, but one of the more intriguing ones to watch will involve catcher, Austin Allen. Allen is already a part of San Diego's 40-man roster and with Francisco Mejia still being a question mark regarding his future behind the dish and the struggles of Austin Hedges this season, it would not be a surprise to see them test the waters when it came to Austin Allen to see if he could be a legitimate option moving forward. As Padres General Manager, A.J. Preller has shown in the past, he is not afraid to give a prospect the opportunity to prove themselves at the big league level and try to inject youth into the ball club with every opportunity possible. Just refer to the debut of shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., at the start of this season as one example of just that.
5. San Francisco Giants: RHP Logan Webb - With an eye to the future, the San Francisco Giants are going to want to use this September to survey some of the prospects they have on their 40-man roster and see how they could be impactful as soon as next year. Since the Giants will never undergo a full-blown rebuild because of their ownership group and the market they play in, having an idea of where these prospects are in regard to the long-term plans of the franchise is vital. For San Francisco, one name to watch is right-handed pitcher, Logan Webb, who could be a great option at the back end of the Giants starting rotation and features a great fastball-breaking ball combo. Currently, Logan Webb ranks as the Giants fifth best overall prospect and has done well in the minor leagues so far this season. In the minors, Webb posted a 1.85 ERA over 63.1 innings pitched with (69) strikeouts.
1. Chicago Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay - Similar to Devin Smeltzer of the Minnesota Twins, right-hander Adbert Alzolay seems like another arm that could be used as either a fill-in starting pitcher or as a reliever down the stretch, as the Cubs remain in the hunt of a playoff berth whether that be the National League Central crown or one of the National League Wild Card spots. Earlier this season, Alzolay received a big league call-up and posted a 7.15 ERA over three games, but has performed somewhat better in the minors this season putting up a 4.80 ERA over 69.1 innings of work with 94 strikeouts. The good news for the Cubs is that Alzolay is still only 24-years old and still has time to fully develop the way that many of their scouts expect him to. As the Cubs fifth best overall prospect, Alzolay has always been recognized for his tremendous work ethic and his ability to continue trying to focus on getting better with each passing day, something that could play very well with the Cubs big league squad.
2. Cincinnati Reds: RHP Jimmy Herget - Just a few short weeks ago, it seemed as though the Cincinnati Reds might make a serious push for contention and potentially be one of the teams to play in October. However, those hopes have seemed to fade over the past couple of weeks meaning that now it's time to turn an eye towards next season and build off the success of this season. To the credit of the Cincinnati Reds, they tried to field a competitive team this year and made some great moves which should allow them to continue building towards sustainable success moving forward. For Cincinnati, they will probably have a few September call-ups, but one name to watch is right-hander, Jimmy Herget, who could get some looks as a nice middle-inning relief option. Cincinnati has had a lot of success in their starting rotation this year, but the bullpen has been league average for the most part putting up a 4.44 ERA over 451.2 innings of work. Therefore, the Reds will need to focus on building up the bullpen prior to the start of next season in an attempt to get over the hump and into the playoffs.
3. Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Drew Rasmussen - Drew Rasmussen is a guy that the Milwaukee Brewers believe could be a weapon at the back end of their bullpen and a terrific compliment to go alongside left-handed reliever, Josh Hader. As such and given the fact that he is already on the 40-man roster, it makes it very likely that he will receive a September call-up. Baseball America credited the Milwaukee Brewers when they drafted Drew Rasmussen during the 2018 Amateur Draft and ultimately believe that he will be quite the arm at the big league level. One of Rasmussen's best pitches is his slider which should play very well at the back end of Milwaukees bullpen. While the Milwaukee Brewers postseason chances seem to be fading by the day, they can use all of the help they can get on the pitching front and if that means that it impacts their postseason chances this year or allows them to start planning for next season, now is the perfect time to give Drew Rasmussen a look at the big league level.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Jason Martin - It's hard to believe the type of fall that the Pittsburgh Pirates have made in their attempts of contention since the All-Star Break. With that being said, the Pirates still have some talented pieces on their 25-man roster in players such as first baseman Josh Bell and outfielder Bryan Reynolds, but Pittsburgh needs to continue to look at what they have in their system and start planning for what they need to focus on the most this offseason. One potential impactful name moving into the future is outfielder, Jason Martin. Martin's primary position is in centerfield, which means that Pittsburgh might have to consider moving Starling Marte this offseason, if they believe that Jason Martin is a bigger improvement and has the ability to provide more offense moving forward. Over the span of 362 at bats at the Triple-A level, Martin has put up a batting line of: .265/.316/.428 with 96 hits, 25 doubles, 5 triples, 8 home runs, 50 RBI, 28 walks, and 79 strikeouts.
5. St. Louis Cardinals: 2B Ramon Urias - One of the more obvious names for the St. Louis Cardinals to callup would be their second best overall prospect, outfielder Dylan Carlson, but given the fact that he isn't already on the 40-man roster, it's hard to envision them clearing space and adding him to it. As a result, it seems likely that utility infielder, Ramon Urias whose primary position is at second base, could be worthy of a September callup. In case you're wondering, Ramon happens to be the older brother of Luis Urias, who made his big league debut for the San Diego Padres this year, and Ramon Urias could end up being a terrific utility option for the Cardinals come next year. In the bigger picture, depth has been an issue for the St. Louis Cardinals over the past couple of seasons so if they are able to find a valuable depth option in their system, then they need to capitalize on that opportunity and see what they have. Over his time in the minor leagues, Urias has played all over the diamond including being utilized as a Designated Hitter.
1. Atlanta Braves: RHP Ian Anderson - Right-handed pitcher, Ian Anderson, isn't currently on the 40-man roster with the Atlanta Braves, but if the Braves feel as though they need additional starting pitching help down the stretch, then he is going to be their best option. As it stands right now, Anderson ranks as the Braves third best overall prospect and the best part is that he is still only 21-years old and has plenty of room to continue to grow. In fact, scouts in the Atlanta Braves system are so confident in Anderson's abilities that they fill as though he will eventually be a frontline starting pitcher and someone that can be a true anchor for many years for the Braves rotation. As it stands right now, Atlanta has a very talented starting rotation, but some of those young starters have seemingly started to run out of gas as the season has worn on. As such, by injecting Ian Anderson into the mix, the Atlanta Braves might end up making a very wise decision and one that could pay off huge dividends in the end.
2. Miami Marlins: RHP Nick Neidert - Although the Miami Marlins are still in the midst of a massive rebuild, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't continue surveying what options they have in the minor leagues and giving some of their best prospects a look at the big league level. Given that, the Marlins should focus on looking at what type of pitching they have in their system and give right-handed pitcher, Nick Neidert a look at the big league level. Neidert currently ranks as the Marlins twelfth best overall prospect and many scouts feel as though he could be a middle-to-back end of the starting rotation option moving forward. So far this season in Rookie Ball, A-Ball, and Triple-A, Neidert has a 4.01 ERA over 51.2 innings of work with (45) strikeouts and a (1.45) WHIP. All along throughout his time in the Miami Marlins organization, many scouts have credited Nick Neidert as being ahead of the age curve and very mature for where he is at in his development overall. Neidert is currently 22 years old meaning that there is still plenty of time for full development to take place.
3. New York Mets: RHP Walker Lockett - Walker Lockett is yet another pitcher that should receive a big league call-up with the calendar getting ready to turn to September. Lockett already was called up to the big league club earlier this season when he posted a 7.79 ERA over 17.1 innings of work, but has experienced some nice success down in the minors this season putting up a 3.82 ERA over 66 innings pitched with (45) strikeouts. Ultimately, many scouts believe that Lockett is more than likely going to be a swing-man for the New York Mets and that means that he is yet another guy that could be used as a fill-in starting pitcher or in relief. Lockett's pitch repertoire features a four-pitch mix with an above-average changeup. If the Mets make the decision to call Walker Lockett back up to the big league squad, then they could start to see where Lockett fits into their long-term plans as an organization and begin to see where they have the most needs heading into this offseason.
4. Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Cole Irvin - Pitching has been one of the biggest shortfalls for the Philadelphia Phillies throughout the entire season and their Front Office really overvalued their entire starting rotation this past offseason. Given those struggles and the uncertainty that comes on the pitching front, it would only make sense for Philadelphia to call-up right-hander, Cole Irvin, and see what he can do once again at the big league level. Irvin was originally called up for his big league debut back in May and made several appearances through the months of May, June, and July where he combined for a 7.98 ERA over 29.1 innings of work. While those aren't necessarily the best results ever, Irvin is still only 25-years old and projects to be an impactful piece of the Phillies pitching staff moving into next year. Currently, Cole Irvin ranks as the Phillies sixteenth best overall prospect and has developed the reputation of being a strikeout heavy starting pitcher during his minor league career.
5. Washington Nationals: SS Carter Kieboom - Carter Kieboom was already called up to the big leagues earlier this season, but could once again receive a call-up to provide the Washington Nationals with a nice bench option and someone with outstanding defensive instincts. As it stands right now, the Nationals have Trea Turner penciled in as their everyday shortstop, but the good news is that even if Kieboom was called back up to the major league squad, Turner could continue to play on an everyday basis with utility infielder, Asdrubal Cabrera, rotating around the diamond as well. The Nationals are going to need all of the reinforcements they can get as they remain in hot pursuit of a postseason berth. Kieboom was called up earlier this season by the Washington Nationals and while that stint didn't necessarily go as planned, there is still a lot to like about the overall defensive, offensive, and athletic abilities that Kieboom brings to the table. That's likely a big reason why he has remained with the organization and has been put off limits in any trade discussions.