Given the New York Yankees' inexplicable inability to stay healthy in 2013, it is never too early to start looking at a handful of prospects who could be called up to the majors during the second half of the season.
Names like Joba Chamberlain remind us what type of impact a fresh face can have in the clubhouse during a late-season playoff push, and also what type of pressure can be placed on such young players.
The move could be a temporary fill-in gig when an everyday player hits the 15-day DL, or an internal move by the organization to provide a kick in the rear for a slumping ballclub.
Whatever the circumstances may be, there is nothing in sports quite like a late-season call-up in baseball—when a guy no one has heard of comes on the scene and makes a name for himself on the biggest stage.
Here are a few names to look out for in New York following the All-Star break:
Casey Stevenson (1B)
With Mark Teixeira back on the disabled list (possibly for the remainder of the season), first base is certainly a position that could use some evaluation by the Yankees.
Lyle Overbay, New York's current everyday first baseman, has seemingly hit a wall after his unexpected hot start to the year. His average is down to .226, and he doesn't exactly man the position as effectively as the Yankees are accustomed to with Teixeira.
It might be stretch considering Stevenson has only played two games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; however, it's not impossible to suggest he could see some time in New York before season's end.
JR Murphy (C)
Catcher is another position that may need some retooling in New York during the second half.
Recent minor league call-up Austin Romine has been less than impressive thus far, and Chris Stewart can't catch every single day.
Nor do I think the Yankees want him to.
With that said, JR Murphy is a name that could potentially receive a call-up to the majors. His sample size in Scranton is small, but very impressive nonetheless.
In 10 games with the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, Murphy is hitting .343 with two HR and six RBI.
Consider that Romine's OBP is .153 with the Yankees' major league club, and it could only be a matter of time before the two swap places.
Thomas Neal (LF)
Far and away the most consistent hitter at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Thomas Neal might find himself back up in the bigs in a couple of months.
And if it weren't for Zoilo Almonte's blistering start, Neal might have been with the Yankees again by now.
At this point, I don't think any news out of New York regarding injury is going to come as surprising. So if Curtis Granderson's second return from the disabled list this season does not go as planned, don't be surprised if you see Thomas Neal filling in the outfield for the Yankees.
In 47 games at Triple-A this year, he is batting .339 with 12 doubles and 24 RBI.
Despite his recent struggles, Vernon Wells has been commendable for the Yankees to this point. But it is guys like Thomas Neal who can come up in September and provide a spark off the bench that jolts a team into the playoffs.
Matt Daley (RHP)
More so than any other position in baseball, a team's relief pitchers are shuffled quite frequently toward the end of the long season. So even though the Yankees have had a rather fortunate bullpen in 2013, Matt Daley still might get a shot during the second half.
His numbers certainly warrant it. In 21 games in the minor leagues this season, Daley's combined ERA with Tampa, Trenton and Scranton is just 1.21. Opponents are hitting just .171 off the New York native, and he has been good for more than a strikeout per inning so far.
It is unlikely that Daley will be this year's Joba Chamberlain—the dominating late-inning reliever of 2013.
However, the rosters do expand in September, and you can never have too many arms in that bullpen. Don't be shocked if Daley gets his opportunity.