Scouting Reports, Predictions for All 30 MLB Teams' Top 2014 September Call-Ups
Sept. 1 marks the expansion of every team’s active roster from 25 to 40 players. In general, it allows teams to address their needs at the major league level by essentially plucking specific talent from within their farm system to add bench and bullpen depth.
More importantly, at least as far as we’re concerned, the final month of the season represents a time when teams have the freedom to audition their top prospects at the highest level.
Even though most organizations hold off on promoting their young talent until the completion of the minor league playoffs, which are set to begin this week, there should be several notable promotions announced Monday.
As part of our ongoing coverage here at Prospect Pipeline, we’ve put together a list of each team’s announced call-ups headed into Monday. And as news pertaining to September call-ups develops over the coming week, we’ve got you covered with updated information, scouting reports and predictions on baseball’s top prospects.
The Orioles made a few trades over the weekend, acquiring Kelly Johnson from the Red Sox and Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox, which is why the team didn't call up any notable prospects on Sept. 1.
Per MLB.com's transaction page, the Orioles recalled right-handers Evan Meek and Ryan Webb as well as catcher Steve Clevenger from the minor leagues, and they also purchased the contracts of left-hander Joe Saunders and outfielder Quintin Berry.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox added one pitcher to their bullpen on Monday in right-hander Steven Wright, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, per MLB.com's transaction page.
However, manager John Farrell told Adam Berry of MLB.com that the team is likely to call up a few more players Tuesday before the start of Boston’s series against the Yankees.
That group is unlikely to include third baseman Garin Cecchini and right-hander Matt Barnes, both of whom play for the postseason-bound Pawtucket.
New York Yankees
The Yankees recalled right-handers Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Preston Claiborne and catcher John Ryan Murphy from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s transaction page.
Bryan Mitchell, RHP
A 16th-round draft pick in 2009 out of high school, Mitchell has split the season between Double- and Triple-A, faring better at the minor league’s highest level with a 3.67 ERA in 41.2 innings over eight starts.
Overall, the 23-year-old pitched to a 4.37 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with a 94-45 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 103 innings. Mitchell’s workload would have been greater had his season not be interrupted by three separate trips to the major leagues. He finally made his MLB debut on Aug. 10, striking out two batters without allowing a hit over scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
When he’s at his best, the 6’3”, 205-pound right-hander will work in the mid-90s with his fastball, and he complements the pitch with a sharp curveball that flashes plus. He also mixes in a changeup, though it’s the least developed offering in his arsenal.
Mitchell has struggled to develop a sense of control since turning pro, but the quality of his stuff has allowed him to keep moving up the organizational ladder. Expect him to work out of the bullpen over the final month of the regular season.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are not expected to call up any notable prospects Monday when rosters expand.
However, that could change following Triple-A Durham’s postseason run; that particular affiliate houses 40-man players Tim Beckham, Hak-Ju Lee, Alex Colome and Enny Romero, as well as outfielder Mikie Mahtook, who will need to be added to the roster this offseason so as to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are calling up left-hander Daniel Norris, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). They will also call up center fielder Dalton Pompey, the team’s top position prospect, from Triple-A Buffalo, according to Pompey himself on Twitter (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). Lastly, the Blue Jays have purchased the contract of right-hander Kendall Graveman from Triple-A Buffalo, tweets Shi Davidi of sportsnet.ca.
Daniel Norris, LHP
It’s been a busy season for Daniel Norris.
Norris received a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire after breezing through the Florida State League to begin the year. The 21-year-old left-hander didn’t stay there long, though, as the Blue Jays decided to move him up to Triple-A Buffalo after just eight starts.
Well, after four dominant outings at the minor’s highest level (and one not-so-good one), it now appears that Norris may make his major league debut in September when the rosters expand, per Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
On the season, Norris is 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 163-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 124.2 innings (25 starts) across all three levels. He's held opposing hitters to a .212 batting average during that span, highlighted by a .182 opponents' batting average over 22.2 innings at Triple-A.
The Blue Jays would not be rushing Norris up the ladder like this if they didn’t plan on using him in the major leagues next month. Chances are he’ll work out of the bullpen so as to manage his workload, but if a playoff spot is on the line, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Norris making a start or two down the stretch.
Dalton Pompey, OF
Pompey got everyone’s attention last year by posting a .752 OPS with 37 extra-base hits and 38 steals over 115 games in his full-season debut at Low-A Lansing.
The 21-year-old switch-hitter has emerged as one the game’s more intriguing power-speed prospects this year, as his debut in the major leagues represents will mark his fourth level of the season.
Pompey began his season with High-A Dunedin in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League before moving up to Double-A New Hampshire in late June. Pompey played in only 31 Eastern League games before he received another promotion, this time moving up to Triple-A Buffalo and fueling speculation about a potential September call-up.
Well, after batting .358/.393/.453 with 15 runs scored and six stolen bases in 12 Triple-A games, Pompey is officially headed for the major leagues. He’ll finish his second full professional season having batted .313/.388/.462 with nine home runs, nine triples, 20 doubles, 43 stolen bases and an 84/52 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 494 plate appearances (112 games) across three levels.
The switch-hitter also fared equally well from both sides of the plate, with an .849 OPS as a left-handed batter and an .853 OPS as a rightly.
Pompey has a high-end combination of hit/speed potential while also playing a solid center field—all attributes he showcased in this year’s All-Star Futures Game. Given the Blue Jays’ lack of production from center fielders Colby Rasmus (.735 OPS, 43 K) and Anthony Gose (.635 OPS) since the All-Star break, it wouldn’t be surprising if Pompey sneaks his way into the lineup sometime soon.
Kendall Graveman, RHP
Selected by Toronto in the eighth round of the 2013 draft out of Mississippi State, Graveman, 23, has raced through the minor leagues this season, making stops at each of the four full-season levels.
Though he will be used out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen along with left-hander Daniel Norris, Graveman’s overwhelming success this season came as a starter. In 27 starts between the four levels, the right-hander posted a 1.83 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 115/31 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 167.1 innings. He allowed only two home runs during that span and held opposing hitters to a .231 batting average.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox got a head start on the September call-up process, but only because they freed up roster spots through waiver-deadline trades of Alejandro De Aza (Orioles) and Adam Dunn (A’s). In their place, the White Sox decided to promote first baseman Andy Wilkins and left-hander Scott Snodgress. Wilkins, 25, made his debut Sunday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the Tigers.
The South Siders announced another wave of call-ups Tuesday, per MLB.com's transaction page, recalling right-handers Chris Bassitt and Scott Carroll, utility man Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley, outfielder Jordan Danks and left-hander Eric Surkamp from Triple-A Charlotte. The team also selected the contract of outfielder Michael Taylor.
The Indians recalled first baseman Jesus Aguilar and right-handers Austin Adams and Bryan Price from the minor leagues Monday, per MLB.com's transaction page.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B/DH
Aguilar, 24, spent two weeks with the Tribe in May but struggled at the dish, batting just .188 (3-for-16) while starting six games at first base.
He fared much better this season in the minor leagues, batting .304/.395/.511 with 19 home runs, 31 doubles and 77 RBI in 118 games with Triple-A Columbus. The right-handed batter actually hit same-side pitching this season (.911 OPS, 14 HR) better than he did lefties (.894 OPS, 5 HR).
In the wake of Nick Swisher’s season-ending knee surgery, Aguilar, who boasts plus raw power, will likely see extensive playing time at first base over the next month.
The Tigers will include prospects outfielder Steven Moya, catcher James McCann and infielder Hernan Perez in their call-ups Monday, reports Jason Beck of MLB.com.
Steven Moya, OF
Steven Moya, 22, was recently named MVP of the Double-A Eastern League after leading the circuit in home runs (35), RBI (105), extra-base hits (71) and slugging percentage (.555)—all career highs. Furthermore, his 286 total bases, 71 extra-base hits and 105 RBI are single-season franchise records for Erie.
The 6’6”, 230-pound outfielder has done most of his damage this season against righties, with a .284/.315/.570 slash line, 22 home runs and 24 doubles in 328 at-bats.
As of now, the Tigers reserves are Bryan Holaday, Andrew Romine, Ezequiel Carrera and Don Kelly, none of whom possess more than a lick of power. Given Moya’s breathtaking thump from the left side and current spot on Detroit's 40-man roster, he’s likely to get some looks off the bench for the Tigers in September.
James McCann, a second-round draft pick back in 2011, took a big step forward last year in Double-A Erie and has continued to improve this season at Triple-A Toledo with a .295/.343/.427 batting line, 34 doubles, seven home runs and 54 RBI in 109 games.
Defensively, McCann has allowed only five passed balls in 98 games this season and has thrown out base stealers at a 42 percent clip. However, the 24-year-old’s greatest strength might be his ability to crush left-handed pitching, evidenced by his .342/.404/.475 batting line in 120 at-bats this season against southpaws.
The Tigers will have to clear a spot for McCann on the 40-man roster, though they would have to do so anyway this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Hernan Perez, MIF
The Tigers opted to replace the injured Jose Iglesias with Eugenio Suarez rather than Hernan Perez this season, as the latter represented a weaker defensive option and seemed better suited for second base. Between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Perez batted .197 with one triple, five RBI and 15 strikeouts in 73 plate appearances with the Tigers.
The 23-year-old Perez has turned in a strong offensive season at Triple-A Toledo, batting .287/.331/.404 with six home runs, seven triples, 32 doubles and 21 stolen bases in 133 games.
Don’t be surprised if the organization gives Perez a look at shortstop in September, with the hope that his bat will outweigh any defensive shortcomings.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals take home the award for the most interesting September call-ups, as the club is set to promote outfielders Lane Adams and Terrance Gore, as well as 2014 first-round pick Brandon Finnegan on Monday, reports Dick Kaegel of MLB.com.
Lane Adams, OF
Drafted in the 13th round out of high school in 2009, Adams’ development was limited early in his career due to injuries and didn’t reach Double-A Northwest Arkansas until 2013. The 24-yer-old center fielder has spent the past two seasons in the Texas League, batting a combined .262/.347/.419 with 95 runs, 52 extra-base hits (16 home runs), 53 stolen bases and a 131/63 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 149 games.
Already on the Royals’ 40-man roster, Adams offers the Royals outfield depth given his ability to play all three positions, and he comes with some offensive upside thanks to his speed and modest power.
Terrance Gore, OF
Gore, 23, has never been known for his bat, with a .237/.343/.271 batting line and 28 extra-base hits in 330 career games over four seasons. However, Gore is an excellent baserunner and a proficient base stealer, highlighted by his 90.8 percent success rate (168-for-185) as a professional. In his 2013 full-season debut with Low-A Lexington, Gore stole a career-best 68 bases in 76 attempts.
The 5’7”, 165-pound outfielder spent most of the current season at High-A Wilmington, where he batted only .218 with a .546 OPS but swiped 36 bags in 40 attempts. He was promoted to Triple-A Omaha earlier this month, likely in anticipation of a September call-up, and has held his own at the minor leagues' highest level, batting .250 with a 11-for-14 success rate on the basepaths through 17 games.
Gore is arguably the fastest player in the minor leagues, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s utilized the same way the Reds used Billy Hamilton last September. Gore focuses on working deep counts and coaxing walks and putting the ball on the ground (including bunts, obviously), which in turn allows him to wreak havoc on the basepaths, a la Hamilton. If used in that role, Gore could easily steal upward of 10 bases over the final month of the season.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP
Selected by the Kansas City Royals with the No. 17 overall pick in this year’s draft out of TCU, Brandon Finnegan began his professional career at High-A Wilmington, where he posted a 0.60 ERA, allowed five hits and fanned 13 batters in 15 innings.
The Royals moved him up to Double-A Northwest Arkansas in early August to work out of the bullpen, and the southpaw has responded well to the challenge by posting a 2.25 ERA with 13 strikeouts over 12 innings.
Finnegan sits consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball and has the potential to work a few ticks higher in shorter bursts, and he’s also shown the ability to hold the velocity deep into games. His breaking ball was slurvy at the time of the draft, but he’s since cleaned it up and used it to put up impressive numbers at a pair of advanced levels.
The Royals wouldn't be calling him up if they didn't plan on using him, so expect the southpaw to get regular work, possibly even in high-leverage situations, down the stretch.
The Astros have recalled catcher Max Stassi from Triple-A Oklahoma City and purchased the contract of right-hander Nick Tropeano, per MLB.com's transaction page. The team also recalled outfielder L.J. Hoes and shortstop Jonathan Villar and purchased the contract of right-hander Jorge De Leon.
Max Stassi, C
Stassi had been plagued by injuries for most of his professional career, but he was able to stay on the field last season and turned in a breakout performance, posting a career-high .863 OPS and 17 home runs in 76 games at Double-A Corpus Christi. The 23-year-old even got a look in the major leagues thanks to his spot on the team’s 40-man roster, as he went 2-for-7 over three games before suffering a concussion.
Stassi has struggled this season against Triple-A pitching, batting just .247/.296/.378 with nine home runs, 20 doubles and 103 strikeouts in 101 games. However, he was swinging a hot bat prior to the news of his promotion, with a .338/.373/.521 batting line and seven extra-base hits over his last 18 games.
Nick Tropeano, RHP
The Astros have purchased Tropeano’s contract from Triple-A Oklahoma City, rewarding the 23-year-old right-hander for another strong minor league season.
Spending the entire season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Tropeano posted a 3.03 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and a 120-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 124.2 innings. He held opposing hitters to a .202/.262/.334 batting line in 486 plate appearances during that span.
However, it’s worth noting that the 2011 fifth-rounder has struggled over the last month after coming off the disabled list, pitching to a 4.54 ERA over his last 37.2 innings (seven starts).
A 6’4”, 200-pound right-hander, Tropeano lacks dominant stuff but boasts a pair of above-average offerings in his low-90s fastball and changeup. He’s adept at mixing in his slider to keep opposing hitters off balance, though it doesn’t project as a swing-and-miss offering at the highest level.
Having logged 158 innings in 2012 and 133.2 in 2013, Tropeano seems to be a strong candidate to finish the season in Houston’s starting rotation.
Los Angeles Angels
Desperately in need of bullpen arms (and arms in general) for an upcoming 10-game road trip, the Angels will call up prospect Cam Bedrosian on Monday.
The has also purchased the contract of shortstop Shawn O'Malley, according to a tweet from Angels VP of communications Tim Mead (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). A fifth-round draft pick of the Rays back in 2006, O'Malley has batted .258/.351/.338 with 42 triples, 81 doubles and 186 stolen bases over nine seasons in the minor leagues. He's a sound defender at both middle infield positions.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP
No reliever was more dominant than Cam Bedrosian during the first two months of the minor league season, as he registered a 1.13 ERA and saved eight games while striking out 45 batters in 24 innings (16.9 K/9).
Since then, the 22-year-old has had several stints in the major leagues but struggled to make an impact out of the Los Angeles Angels’ bullpen, with a 7.71 ERA and 13-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11.2 innings over 11 appearances.
The right-hander has remained dominant in the minors this season despite scuffling with the Angels, as he’ll finish his campaign with 18 saves, a 2.05 ERA, .111 BAA and 81 strikeouts in 44 innings (16.6 K/9).
Bedrosian will likely receive work in low- or mid-leverage situations in September.
The A’s have recalled outfielder Billy Burns from Triple-A Sacramento, according to MLB.com's transactions page.
The Oakland A’s acquired Burns from the Washington Nationals during the offseason after he was named the organization’s Player of the Year in 2013, and he promptly flashed his potential with his new team during spring training by batting .306 with 10 stolen bases in 26 games.
The 24-year-old speedster hasn’t had a great season in the minor leagues, with a .237 batting average over 119 games, but he’s still reached base at a decent clip (.315 OBP) and continues to steal bases like it’s going out of style (54 in 60 attempts).
Over his four-year minor league career, Burns has swiped 179 bags in 202 attempts, good for a 88.6 percent success rate.
Burns received a cup of coffee with A’s in late July due to injures to Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry, but he appeared in just three games, going 0-for-5, before returning to Triple-A. He'll likely be used in as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement over the next month, similar to how the Reds handled Billy Hamilton last September.
The Seattle Mariners will call up right-handed pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and Carson Smith on Monday, reports Greg Johns of MLB.com.
Taijuan Walker, RHP
Taijuan Walker seemed primed to open the season in the Mariners' starting rotation after he received a late-season call-up in 2013, but Seattle ultimately assigned him to Triple-A after a shaky performance during spring training. The 22-year-old right-hander then suffered a shoulder injury during his second start of the season and didn't return to action until late May.
Walker made three starts for the Mariners between June 30 and July 23, registering a 3.60 ERA and .133 batting average against over 15 innings, but he struggled with his control and walked (13) nearly as many batters as he struck out (14).
The right-hander was pitching well back at Tacoma—2.37 ERA over his last 19 innings, to be exact—before scuffling on Monday, when he allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings against Kris Bryant and Triple-A Iowa.
With only 82.1 innings under his belt this season and Triple-A Tacoma not headed to the playoffs, the Mariners will have some flexibility with Walker over the final month of the season. According to manager Lloyd McClendon (via MLB.com), Walker initially work out of the bullpen:
"Right now, he's probably going to be more of a long man," McClendon said. "Hopefully he'll get to the point where he's so dominating that he's in the rotation, but we'll see. I had a talk with him today, and that's totally up to him. We've all heard the hype and know he's a very talented individual, but I want to see it on the field."
Carson Smith, RHP
An eighth-round pick out of Texas State in 2011, Smith has moved at a level-per-year pace through Seattle’s system after beginning his pro career at High-A High Desert in 2012.
The 6’6”, 215-pound right-hander works from a deceptive low-three-quarters arm slot, which makes his heavy low-90s fastball play up and his slider a legitimate swing-and-miss offering. This season, Smith saved 10 games while posting a 2.93 ERA with 45 strikeouts over 43 innings at Triple-A Tacoma.
In his three-year career, the 24-year-old has saved 40 games in 51 opportunities while posting a 2.55 ERA with 193 strikeouts in 155 innings (132 appearances).
The Rangers called up infielder Ryan Rua last week, and the team is expected to promote infielder Luis Sardinas as well as right-handed relievers Lisalverto Bonilla and Spencer Patton when rosters expand Monday.
Sardinas lost his prospect status due to time already spent with Texas this season, batting .288/.329/.318 with two doubles and four RBI in 26 games.
Patton, 26, has split the year between the Royals’ and Rangers’ Triple-A affiliates, going from the former to the latter team in a midseason trade. Between both affiliates, the right-hander saved 18 games to go along with a 3.90 ERA, .188 BAA and 85 strikeouts in 62.1 innings (12.3 K/9).
Bonilla, 24, once was a notable prospect as a starter in the Phillies’ system, but has worked out of the bullpen in each of the last two seasons as a Rangers farmhand. This year, the right-hander registered a 4.10 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 92 strikeouts in 74.2 innings (11.1 K/9) at Triple-A Round Rock.
The Braves will promote several prospects on Tuesday, including catcher Christian Bethancourt, right-hander Juan Jaime and left-hander Chasen Shreve, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
Bethancourt has appeared in 13 games with the Braves this season, batting .240/.283/.260 with 14 strikeouts during that span.
The 22-year-old has taken a step forward offensively this season as hoped, putting together a solid .287/.312/.414 batting line to go along with 26 extra-base hits (eight home runs) in 90 minor league games. However, it’s Bethancourt’s superb defense that will have him back in the major leagues on Sept. 1.
Jaime, 27, has had several stints with the Braves already this year. The right-hander, who owns a fastball that sits in the upper 90s, registered a 2.25 ERA and struck out 13 batters over eight innings (nine appearances) with Atlanta this season. In the minors, he saved 18 games, had a 3.51 ERA and .181 BAA, and struck out 63 batters against 36 walks in 41 innings.
Shreve, 24, has also bounced between the minor and major leagues, posting a 1.80 ERA with seven strikeouts over five innings with the Braves this season. Meanwhile, the left-hander saved nine games and registered a 2.67 ERA and 0.98 WHIP to go along with an 87/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 64 games between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Miami Marlins have called up top prospect Andrew Heaney, right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and infielder Enrique Gonzalez from Triple-A New Orleans, according to MLB.com’s transaction page.
Andrew Heaney, LHP
Andrew Heaney’s first trip of the major leagues this season didn’t go as expected, as the 23-year-old posted a 6.53 ERA and yielded five home runs in 20.2 innings (four starts).
To make matters worse, the left-hander struggled in July after a demotion from the major leagues, registering a 5.03 ERA in 19.2 innings over four starts back at Triple-A New Orleans. Heaney has pitched significantly better as of late, though, with a 3.32 ERA, .206 batting average against and 38-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio 38 innings over his last six starts.
Furthermore, the southpaw has dominated against left-handed batters this year, holding them to a .196/.250/.275 batting line with a 49-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 165 plate appearances.
Though Heaney will now rejoin the Marlins for September, it’s difficult to say with any certainty what his exact role (starter versus reliever) will be down the stretch. However, it’s safe to assume the Marlins' ultimate decision will be tied to the team’s chances of clinching a playoff berth Wild Card.
Enrique Hernandez, 2B
Hernandez, 22, quietly hit his way to the major leagues this season, debuting with the Astros on July 1 and then batting .284 with seven extra-base hits and eight RBI in 24 games. Hernandez’s impressive showing at the highest level led to him being dealt to the Marlins at the trade deadline, and he played second base primarily at Triple-A New Orleans.
Since joining the Marlins’ system, Hernandez has batted .250/.345/.403 with seven extra-base hits and a 13-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 84 plate appearances with New Orleans.
He’s likely to see fairly regular playing time at the keystone in September, but Hernandez’s defensive versatility should help keep his bat in the lineup.
New York Mets
The Mets will call up four players, per Tim Healey of MLB.com, on Monday in infielder Josh Satin, right-handed pitcher Erik Goeddel, catcher Juan Centeno and left-hander Dario Alvarez.
Alvarez, 25, is the only interesting name on the list. A left-handed reliever, Alvarez spent most of the season at Low-A Savannah before making stops at High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton en route to the major leagues.
Between all three stops, Alvarez posted a 1.10 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .184 BAA with 114 strikeouts (14.0 K/9) and 17 walks (2.1 BB/9) in 73.1 innings.
The Phillies will promote third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a tweet from Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He could be in the starting lineup as early as Tuesday. The team also recalled Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Maikel Franco, 3B
Maikel Franco entered spring training with an outside chance of making the Phillies' Opening Day roster, but ultimately the team assigned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after he hit .184 over 16 games.
Unfortunately, his struggles didn't end with spring training, as he posted a disappointing .209/.267/.318 line with five home runs in 78 games spanning the first three months of the season.
The 22-year-old has raked since the beginning of July, though, with an impressive .324/.344/.579 batting line, 30 extra-base hits (11 home runs) and 47 RBI over his last 54 games.
A physically strong right-handed hitter, Franco’s strong wrists and plus bat speed fuel his plus power projection, which could manifest in the form of 25-plus home runs at maturity. While he continued to feast on fastballs last year, his improved secondary recognition helped him control the strike zone and strike out less often, especially during the second half of the season.
Even though Franco is a below-average runner, he has decent lateral range at the hot corner to go along with good hands and above-average arm strength.
The Phillies have nothing to lose by auditioning Franco at the hot corner over the season's final month, especially if they plan on giving Cody Asche, the team’s closest thing an everyday third baseman at the present, a look in left field.
If Franco’s second-half hot streak carries over to the major leagues this month, then it wouldn’t be surprising if third base becomes his position to lose headed into 2015.
Per MLB.com's transaction page, the Nationals recalled outfielder Steven Souza Jr., first baseman Tyler Moore and right-hander Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen on Monday, per MLB.com's transaction page.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Kris Bryant will not join the Cubs this September.
As for the team's promotions, per MLB.com's transaction page:
The Cubs recalled outfielder Junior Lake, right-handers Brian Schlitter, Dan Straily and Arodys Vizcaino and left-hander Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa. They also selected the contracts of left-hander Eric Jokisch and catcher Rafael Lopez.
The Cincinnati Reds have recalled catcher Tucker Barnhart, outfielder Donald Lutz and pitchers David Holmberg and Daniel Corcino from Triple-A Louisville, per MLB.com’s transaction page. They also recalled outfielder Yorman Rodriguez from Double-A Pensacola.
Yorman Rodriguez, OF
Few hitters have been hotter than Rodriguez as of late, as the 22-year-old outfielder batted .313/.415/.545 with four home runs, 12 doubles, 13 RBI and almost as many walks (20) than strikeouts (30) over his final 29 games. In August, he has hit as many doubles (10) as he did in all previous months combined and came one long ball away shy of matching his season home run total.
On the season, the 22-year-old outfielder batted .262/.331/.389 with 34 extra-base hits, 40 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a 117-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 119 games for Pensacola.
Rodriguez presumably will serve as outfield depth for the Reds down the stretch, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives a few starts once Cincinnati is officially eliminated from the postseason hunt.
The Milwaukee Brewers have recalled first baseman/outfielder Jason Rogers from Triple-A Nashville, per MLB.com's transaction page. The team also selected the contracts of first baseman Matt Clark and shortstop Hector Gomez.
Jason Rogers, 1B/OF
Rogers gets the call after arguably his finest minor league campaign, as the 26-year-old right-handed hitter batted .296/.365/.489 with 18 home runs, 29 doubles, six triples, 82 RBI and a 94-53 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 134 games between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville.
The Pirates recalled left-hander Jeff Locke, outfielder Gregory Polanco and right-hander Casey Sadler and John Holdzkom from Triple-A Indianapolis, per MLB.com's transaction page.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals recalled catcher Tony Cruz as well as left-handers Marco Gonzales (who was sent down a few days before as a procedural move on paper) and Tyler Lyons Tuesday, per MLB.com's transaction page.
The Diamondbacks have yet to announce their September call-ups, but the team is expected to activate injured players Cody Ross, A.J. Pollock, Chris Owings and Daniel Hudson as early as Monday.
Per MLB.com's transaction page, the Rockies on Monday recalled left-hander Yohan Flande and first baseman Ben Paulsen from the minor leagues and purchased the contract of infielder Rafael Ynoa.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have promoted outfielder Joc Pederson, according to a tweet from Ryan Walton of Valley Bay News (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). They also have called up second baseman Alex Guerrero and right-handed reliever Yimi Garcia, MLB.com's transaction page.
Joc Pederson, OF
Pederson receives his first trip to the major leagues after recently being named MVP of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. This season, the 22-year-old outfielder led the PCL in home runs (33), OPS (1.017), on-base percentage (.435), runs scored (106), walks (100) and total bases (259). He also became the first Pacific Coast League player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season since Frank Demaree in 1934.
Pederson is an impressive athlete with quiet strength, showcasing five average-or-better tools and good secondary skills. He projects to be a slightly above-average hitter at the highest level, with a mature approach and line-drive-oriented swing, and he already demonstrates a feel for working counts and getting on base.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had already confirmed that Pederson would be called up on Sept. 1, per Michael Lananna of MLB.com, so today’s news doesn’t come as a surprise. Prior to the trade deadline, Mattingly even went so far as to state, via Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, that he believes Pederson is the organization’s best long-term defensive center fielder.
Given his ability to play plus defense at all three outfield positions, Pederson figures to serve primarily as a late-inning defensive replacement down the stretch. At the same time, it doesn’t seem as though Mattingly would hesitate to get the youngster’s power/speed combo and on-base skills in the lineup in the event of an injury to Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp or Yasiel Puig.
Alex Guerrero, 2B
Alex Guerrero missed two months of the season after Miguel Olivo bit off a chunk of his ear during a scuffle in the Albuquerque dugout in late May.
The Cuban infielder, who signed a four-year, $28 million free-agent contract last October (including a $10 million signing bonus), has put up solid numbers since coming off the disabled list, with a .304/.343/.542 batting line, 23 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and 28 RBI in 44 games.
Though second base is his primary position (54 games played), Guerrero will always be a bat-first player with minimal defensive value. Other than the keystone, Guerrero has also spent time at third base (four games), shortstop (seven) and left field (nine), meaning the Dodgers could be considering him in a utility role for September.
However, my best guess is that the 27-year-old’s playing time will depend on how much he hits in those initial opportunities.
San Diego Padres
The Padres selected the contracts of utility man Cory Spangenberg and right-hander Leonel Campos Monday, per MLB.com's transaction page.
Cory Spangenberg, 2B/3B/OF
Spangenberg was selected by the Padres in the first round (No. 10 overall) of the 2011 draft, and he’s since enjoyed a steady climb through the team’s farm system. The 23-year-old’s development had been slowed by concussions in recent years, as the latest kept him out of action for over two months this season, from mid-April to late June.
However, Spangenberg has swung a hot bat since returning to Double-A San Antonio, with a .343/.378/.494 batting line, 24 extra-base hits (seven triples) and 11 stolen bases in 54 games.
Though he was drafted as a second baseman, Spangenberg has become a utility player over the last year, also seeing time in center field as well as third base. He’s expected to work mostly in the infield upon joining the Padres.
Spangenberg had a strong debut Monday, making two nice plays at third base and going 1-for-3 with a two-run single.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are expected to call up five players on Monday, per Ryan Hood of MLB.com: left-hander Mike Kickham, right-hander Hunter Strickland, outfielder Juan Perez, infielder Chris Dominguez and catcher Guillermo Quiroz.
The team also called up outfielder Gary Brown from Triple-A Fresno Tuesday and purchased the contract of reliever Brett Bochy, according to MLB.com’s transaction page.
Gary Brown, OF
Brown, the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2010, has never come close to showing the promise he did in 2011, when he batted a robust .336/.407/.519 with 61 extra-base hits, 115 runs and 53 stolen bases in 131 games for High-A San Jose.
The 25-year-old’s production has steadily regressed outside of the hitter-friendly California League, as he’s batted just .250/.307/.384 with 88 extra-base hits and 254 strikeouts in 1,204 plate appearances at Triple-A Iowa over the last two years.
Brown is already on the Giants’ 40-man roster, and he’ll likely serve as outfield depth or a late-inning defensive replacement over the next month.
Bretty Bochy, RHP
Bochy, the son of manager Bruce Bochy, spent most of the season at Triple-A Fresno, where he posted a 3.83 ERA and 1.48 WHIP with 47 strikeouts and 27 walks over 54 innings (35 games).
Hunter Strickland, RHP
According John Manuel of Baseball America (via Josh Norris), Strickland is a 6’4” right-hander who pumps 96-99 mph. The 25-year-old saved 11 games between High-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond this season, posting a 2.09 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .194 BAA and ridiculous 55/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 38.2 innings (41 appearances).
Strickland made his debut Monday with a scoreless eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies. The right-hander gave up hits to the first two batters he faced before settling in to complete the inning. His fastball topped out at 100 mph in the outing and averaged 98.63 mph, per Brooks Baseball.