Monday, September 23, 2013

September Call-ups

There's been a lot of debate recently about whether or not it is fair for a team to be able to call up every member of its 40-man roster in September, as is the current system.  No other professional sport allows you to affect your roster so greatly at the time of year when it matters the most.  I agree that the system should be a little more balanced from team to team and not unlimited, but I personally like the concept of the September call-ups, and wouldn't want it to go away entirely.  It gives managers a few extra players to mix and match in the late innings, and an opportunity to give guys a rest during the grind of a long season before the playoffs.  It is also an exciting time of year for fans to see hot young prospects getting their first taste of the Major Leagues and perhaps a brief tryout for the club next year.

The Rays have quite an intriguing crop of callups this year.  First and foremost is shortstop and former top prospect Tim Beckham.  Beckham was the last of a slew of high draft picks the Rays had before they got good, drafted #1 overall in 2008 out of high school.  This guy has a sort of Josh Hamilton-Evan Gattis type story where he had to overcome some personal problems off the field.  He has only posted average numbers so far throughout the minors and has generally underachieved, but is still only 23 and has plenty of time to showcase the raw talent the Rays saw in him.  The Rays also called up Enny Romero from AAA to start this week, all because Romero tweeted that he would be "ready to pitch" if the Rays needed him.  Joe Maddon or somebody with the Rays tweeted him back taking him up on his offer.  I don't know anything about Romero, but it's a pretty cool story.  Lastly, the Rays picked up Delmon Young off the scrap heap and he's DH-ing for them now.  Just the type of player a team like the Rays would take a flyer on and have contribute, like Yunel Escobar or James Loney this year, or pretty much anybody they've had in the bullpen the last 5 years.

Another really exciting callup this year is Billy Hamilton.  He is the heir apparent in centerfield for the Reds and his blazing speed and base-stealing prowess are already somewhat of a legend.  He broke Vince Coleman's 30-year old steals record with 155 for AA-Pensacola last year and has 10 stolen bases already in only 9 games played with the Reds this year.  The really intriguing thing about the Hamilton call-up is that it occurred slightly before September 1st, so the Reds will have the option to put him on their playoff roster.  In his first 10 times reaching base, he had 9 steals and 6 runs, and became the first player since 1920 to steal four bases in his first major league start.  If this guy can post a .300+ OBP, he is going to be a dynamic force for the Reds for many years.  It's not very often that base-stealing is touted as a major skill for prospects, which makes Hamilton a very unique and exciting player.  Cincinnati is still going to be Votto's town though, because Billy is a pretty ugly dude, and chicks dig the long ball.

Other call-ups of note to watch: 
  • Yordano Ventura, Kansas City.  This guy averages 99-100 MPH - as a starter - and he dominated in his ML debut.  His problem right now is that he dangerously flies open on his delivery.  If he doesn't hurt himself, he's going to be a #2 starter on that team very quickly.
  • Taijuan Walker, Seattle.  I think he just came up for a couple of starts and is being shut down.  But, much like Yordano Ventura, he throws gas and will position himself as the #2 in the rotation probably middle of next year.  Big time prospect not only for the Mariners but in all of MLB.
  • Xander Bogaerts, Boston.  Called up in mid-August, but I'll include him in this list.  Turned a lot of heads in the 2012 Futures game, #8 on list of top 100 prospects.  Will Middlebrooks and Bogaerts are going to be a really solid left side of the infield for the Red Sox the next 6-8 years.
  • Nick Castellanos, Detroit.  Another guy that really grabbed a lot of attention at the '12 Futures Game in KC.  Tigers have always considered him untouchable in trade negotiations, but he needs to find a position if he wants to play full-time next year.
  • Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee.  Had to throw a homer in there.  After hitting on a number of picks in the 2000s, Nelson is one of the few lower-round draft picks since Ryan Braun that looks like he could make an impact.  He'll be fighting it out with Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg for the #5 spot next spring and has done very well in the bullpen in his first taste of the big leagues, as he has not yet allowed a run.  He was the Brewers' lone representative in the Futures Game this year.
Brewers 70-86, -21.0, eliminated (3 @ Braves, 4 @ Mets)
Reds 89-67, -2.0, -- WC (3 v. Mets, 3 v. Pirates)
Twins 65-90, -25.5, eliminated (3 v. Tigers, 4 v. Indians)

Erik - 11 (+37 worked)

Peter - 45

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