Analyzing the American League September Call-Ups by Eric Longenhagen September 5, 2019 September call-ups, both high-profile and totally innocuous, have been trickling in over the transaction wire for the last several days. As always, there are some who will have real impact on the playoff race and some who are interesting for the purposes of player evaluation, like your usual spare lefty reliever and catcher (by far the most common types of September additions). Some teams with no new names at all. Below I’ve compiled notes on every player brought up by an American League team since the start of the month, no matter how inconsequential; I’ve slipped some rehabbers and August 31 acquisitions in here, too. It’s a primer for you to get (re)acquainted with players who might impact the playoff race or the seasons to come. (The National League’s complement can be found here.) Contenders’ Reinforcements Houston Astros– OF Kyle Tucker, C Garrett Stubbs, RHP Josh James, RHP Jose Urquidy Kiley and I have Tucker projected as an above-average regular, ranked 15th overall among prospects in baseball. I have no idea what kind of playing time he might get this month. Stubbs (24th in the org) has begun playing a little bit of second base and outfield. A part time, multi-positional role might help keep his tiny frame from breaking down, and enable Houston to get his long-performing bat in the lineup, as well as create flexibility on other parts of the roster. James was 94-97 in rehab outings before he returned, then reached 99 on Monday. Urquidy projects as a strike-throwing fifth starter. New York Yankees– OF Clint Frazier, RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP Ryan Dull, RHP Chance Adams, LHP Tyler Lyons, INF Brenny Escanio (prospect) I think it’s likely Frazier, who many scouts/teams continue to think has everyday ability, gets traded this offseason, both because he’s part of a crowded outfield/DH mix and because he and the org don’t seem to be a great fit. Loaisiga (No. 4 in org) had yet another year marred by injury, though his three-pitch mix is so good that at any time he may have a 3-plus WAR season. Lyons is the extra lefty. Adams and Dull have been up and down from Triple-A all year. Escanio, still just 16, was acquired from Milwaukee (along with an international bonus slot) for relief righty J.P. Feyereisen. He’s a compact, switch-hitting infielder who Milwaukee signed in July. Defensively, he’s got good feet, hands, and actions. His lefty swing has more lift and length, while the right-handed swing is more direct but has less in-game power potential right now. It’s a skills-over-tools profile with limited physical projection. Minnesota Twins– RHP Brusdar Graterol, CF Ian Miller, LHP Lewis Thorpe, LHP Devin Smeltzer, RHP Zack Littell, RHP Kohl Stewart, UTIL Willians Astudillo, OF LaMonte Wade Jr. Brusdar (No. 4 in org, No. 68 overall) slid down our overall prospect ranking due to a mid-season shoulder issue. He’s throwing very hard again, sitting 98-99, though there’s more injury/relief concern with him now than there was coming into the year. Thorpe, who has also had a litany of injuries over the course of his career, is a potential No. 4 or 5 whose FV we’ve rounded down a bit (14th in org) due to the medical stuff. Smeltzer (23rd) is a fascinating, multi-pitch lefty with unique funk and strike-throwing ability. Stewart, an emergency/long man this month, has been starting at Triple-A. He’s a sinker/slider guy up to 95. Littel, a candidate for lower leverage innings, has been in the Rochester bullpen. ZiPS loves Littell and has him as a 1.5-1.8 WAR starter the next few years. I have him projected in a slider-heavy middle relief role. Astudillo, who missed about six weeks with an oblique strain (and took some of the Twins GCL players fishing while he rehabbed in Fort Myers), struck out just once while rehabbing through the second half of August at Double- and Triple-A. He’ll likely start or pinch hit a good amount this month, and Miller, a 70 runner making his big league debut after six years in the minors, will pinch run for him. Wade projects as the larger half of a platoon, but is likely a lefty bench bat for now. Wild Card Impact Cleveland Indians– RHP Carlos Carrasco, RHP Dan Otero, RHP James Hoyt, SS Ryan Flaherty, C/1B Eric Haase, 1B/OF Jake Bauers You’re probably aware that Carrasco, who has been in the Cleveland org for a decade now, is fighting leukemia. Hoyt’s slider usage has waned and he hasn’t been as dominant as he was back in 2017 with Houston. He was oddly hittable all year at Triple-A Columbus. Otero is a sinkerballing depth option. Flaherty hit .260/.360/.460 while playing every infield spot at Triple-A this season. Haase has big power but isn’t considered a viable defensive catcher, though he may suddenly play a bigger role in his late-20s if catching defensive standards change due to electronic strike zones. I consider Bauers an average regular long-term, though Cleveland seems inclined to pinch hit for him proactively if he faces a lefty in the middle of a game. Boston Red Sox– C Juan Centeno, RHP Travis Lakins, RHP Hector Velázquez, RHP Ryan Weber, OF Gorkys Hernández Like a migrating Galapagos tortoise, Juan Centeno makes his seemingly annual September pilgrimage to the big leagues. We still like Lakins as a fastball/cutter/curveball reliever (he’s 13th on the Boston list) but his control regressed this year. Velázquez can make multi-inning appearances if the Red Sox need him to; Weber has been up and down throughout the year. Gorkys Hernández is a three-time Futures Game participant on his seventh org. He’s a toolsy defensive replacement. Tampa Bay Rays– RHP Peter Fairbanks, LHP Hoby Milner, INF Daniel Robertson, C Michael Perez, 1B Nate Lowe, 2B Kean Wong Fairbanks, currently a 40 FV on the Rays list, has a chance to break out this month as he has a very nasty two-pitch mix that might earn him a bump into rarified relief FV air this offseason. The Rays paid a premium to acquire both him and Nick Anderson ahead of the deadline, and both of those guys might end up pitching big innings this month and next. Milner is a submarine, upper-80s sinker/slider lefty who has ludicrous numbers at Triple-A — 13 K/9 in 75 innings with Durham — despite mediocre-looking stuff. Robertson, as you probably know, is a righty-hitting infielder with some pop. I like Perez as a potential sleeper low-end regular because of his defense and on base ability, assuming his small-ish body can withstand the rigors of catching about 100 games. Lowe is one of the top first base prospects in the game, ranked 80th overall and 8th on the Rays list. Wong (41st) is a lefty-hitting, multi-positional player who has performed up through Triple-A. He’s a likely big league role player/bench piece just probably not with the Rays, who have a lot of players like this who, based on their handling of him, seem ahead of Wong on the org depth chart. Oakland Athletics– RHP Paul Blackburn, INF Franklin Barreto, C Sean Murphy, LHP Sean Manaea Barreto was bad during his 17-game trial as Oakland’s regular second baseman in July, and he’s now walked just three times in his last 161 big league plate appearances. His approach is a problem, but he remains young and very talented. He slashed .295/.374/.552 at Triple-A this year, and saw time at second, third, and in the outfield corners over the last several weeks. I’m not sure Oakland will trust him with regular duty of any kind throughout September. We have Murphy ranked as the 30th overall prospect in baseball. Manaea’s velocity fell into the upper-80s during his first start back from the IL. He may build relevant stamina as he goes, or just learn how to deal with waning velo as his outings draw on. Blackburn was starting at Triple-A and likely won’t pitch much this month. For the Purposes of Evaluation Baltimore Orioles– RHP Branden Kline, LHP Tanner Scott, OF Dwight Smith Jr., OF Mason Williams, LHP Ty Blach, C Austin Wynns, RHP David Hess, RHP Evan Phillips, RHP Chandler Shepherd Phillips, Kline, and Scott are potential long-term bullpen pieces, fastball/slider guys with big velocity. Hess has slightly lesser stuff than that group. Blach, who the club recently claimed off waivers from San Francisco, is a four-pitch lefty with a changeup who I had evaluated as a No. 4 or 5 starter when he was a prospect. He got knocked around in the PCL this year before the Giants cut him loose. On the surface, Shepherd is also a four-pitch depth starter, but he’s a sleeper 2020 breakout candidate in an org where there’s opportunity for innings, and where the top of the front office has a track record of developing pitchers. Smith and Williams are lefty-hitting bench outfield candidates for this club’s near term. Toronto Blue Jays– LHP Anthony Kay, RHP T.J. Zeuch, C Beau Taylor, LHP Thomas Pannone, RHP Curtis Taylor (prospect), RHP Edisson Gonzalez (prospect) Kay (fifth in the org) has been wild since Toronto acquired him from New York in the Stroman deal, walking 22 over 36 innings at Triple-A Buffalo. He’s been sitting 90-94, up to 96, with his usual, high-quality changeup and breaking ball. I like Zeuch (11th) as an inning-eating, kitchen sink fifth starter with great command. He and Kay are potential long-term rotation stalwarts who help make this Jays group an interesting watch throughout the month. Beau Taylor is a depth catcher who was acquired from Oakland in mid-August. He has OBP skills and power. Pannone is a strike-throwing, bulk-innings relief type. Toronto also acquired Curtis Taylor and Edisson Gonzalez from Tampa Bay to complete the Eric Sogard trade. Taylor (24th in the org), who Tampa originally acquired from Arizona for Brad Boxberger, is a relief prospect who the Rays were developing as an opener/multi-inning type before he got hurt this year (elbow). Gonzalez is not on THE BOARD right now because we have him evaluated as a No. 6-8 starter type. He’s a pitchability 19-year-old who has carved up the New York-Penn League, posting a 77-to-13 strikeout to walk rate over 62 innings. He sits 90-93 and has polished feel for locating both his breaking ball and changeup. Much like Simeon Woods-Richardson, Toronto has acquired someone here who is less physically projectable than their age indicates. Unless he develops better stuff than I expect given his size, or ends up with elite command, he’ll likely be in the 35-40 FV range for us at the site. Detroit Tigers– RHP Bryan Garcia, RHP John Schreiber, DH Christin Stewart, 3B Jeimer Candelario, LHP Tyler Alexander, C Grayson Greiner, RHP Zac Reininger, LHP Daniel Stumpf, OF Troy Stokes Jr. (waiver claim from MIL) Garcia (No. 23 in org) is a potential long-term relief piece for the Tigers. He missed 2018 with TJ and returned to affiliated ball in early May 2019, rehabbing at Hi- and Double-A for about a month before settling in at Triple-A Toledo in early-June. He has been 93-96 since returning, and has a three-pitch mix that sets him up for success under the yet-to-come 2020 relief usage rules. As a prospect, we had Stewart evaluated as a 50 FV DH, hoping he’d hit and hit for power immediately upon being handed a full-time, big league role at age 25. He hasn’t. The same goes for Candy, who I thought was a sure bet to hit big league pitching even if he wasn’t very good at third base in the minors. Stumpf is the extra lefty, Greiner the extra catcher. Alexander and Reininger are very homer-prone. Stokes is a buy-low flier who at one point looked like a pull/lift/OBP left field prospect. Kansas City Royals– RHP Heath Fillmyer, 1B Ryan McBroom Fillmyer began the year as the Royals’ fifth starter, struggled, then missed a month and a half with a shoulder injury. Upon return he was placed in the Triple-A bullpen where he threw 17 pretty good innings over the final five weeks of the season. He has average stuff, but remember that Fillmyer, now 25, had all kinds of late-bloomer traits as an amateur (he was drafted out of a small JUCO in the Mid-Atlantic, and spent most of his amateur career as a shortstop and two-way player) and is now suddenly in the bullpen. I saw him sit 91-94 as a starter this spring, but have no idea where the velo is since the bullpen move. McBroom was one of several recent Yankees upper-level masher acquisitions (Luke Voit and Garrett Cooper the others) who created depth behind the oft-injured Greg Bird. They’ve all become big leaguers now that McBroom, who was acquired for an international bonus slot, is in Kansas City. There are plenty of recent examples of older, upper-level thumpers having some big league success when they finally get an opportunity, including Christian Walker, Jesus Aguilar, C.J. Cron, and Cooper. If McBroom is good (he is not currently on THE BOARD), it might make sense for the Royals to flip him to a competitive team pretty quickly. The good teams with owner-imposed budget restrictions (Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Oakland, maybe Arizona) seem open to parting with talent in exchange for certainty and proximity (think about the trades Miami has been involved in lately, Cleveland’s trades dating back to last summer, and what the Rays have given up for relievers). Those types of teams would have incentive to pursue McBroom during his pre-arb big league seasons, while the higher-ceiling types of players might better suit Kansas City’s needs and competitive timeline. They need a core of stars more than they need a suitable role player who’ll be about 30 when they reasonably project to be a good team again. Chicago White Sox– OF Ryan Cordell, LHP Manny Bañuelos, RHP Carson Fulmer, SS Danny Mendick Now 27, Cordell is still more tools than performance and he doesn’t have the multi-positional versatility he did as a young prospect, so he’s likely a fifth outfielder type now. Bañuelos was on the big league roster during the first half of the season before succumbing to a shoulder issue. He has been hit around during his rehab outings in the minors. Fulmer is coming back from a hamstring injury, and made two relief appearances at Charlotte before returning. Mendick is a high-probability utility infielder with contact and on base skills. Los Angeles Angels– 1B Justin Bour, OF Michael Hermosillo, UTIL Taylor Ward, 1B/LHP Jared Walsh, RHP Jake Jewell, RHP Luke Bard, LHP Adalberto Mejía Hermosillo, ranked 17th in the org, missed the first several months of the year dealing with scar tissue left behind from offseason hernia surgery. He’s made strong contact in the 62 games he’s played this year and for me, projects as a .245/.330/.440 sort of hitter, which is in the 1.5-2 WAR realm for center fielders, depending on the defense. Of course, with Mike Trout in center, Hermosillo may get moved to a corner next year, unless he’s traded, in which case he has a puncher’s chance to become an average regular. Bour is a lefty power bat off the bench. Ward can play several defensive positions, and Walsh is a two-way emergency arm who probably won’t need to pitch this month because of all the other arms on the roster. Jewell projects as a relief piece long term. Bard has that kind of stuff, but is older. Mejía, who I liked as a No. 4 or 5 starter when he was a prospect, is now in DFA limbo. Seattle Mariners– RHP Brandon Brennan, RHP Austin Adams, RHP Dan Altavilla, CF Braden Bishop, INF Ryan Court Brennan was the club’s Rule 5 pick and is back from his second shoulder injury of the year. Austin Adams has big stuff and 30 control. Altavilla missed two months with a forearm strain and is a fringe middle relief type at this point. Bishop continues to project as glove-first, low-end regular or premium fourth outfielder in center. Court’s journey (nearly a decade in the minors, a few stints in LIDOM and in two Indy ball leagues, including one this year) is incredible. Texas Rangers– 1B Ronald Guzmán, RHP Ian Gibaut, RHP Adrian Sampson, LHP Jeffrey Springs, RHP Edinson Vólquez Guzmán’s exit velos are closer to the 45/50 range on the scouting scale than most upper-level and major league first base sluggers. To anticipate he’s a long term regular is to bet on his frame continuing to fill out deeper into his 20s, creating more raw power, which I think is reasonable to do. Gibaut is a long-term bullpen aid who got squeezed off of Tampa Bay’s roster. Springs is a lefty reliever with a plus changeup. He was rehabbing in the AZL last week, sitting 90-92. Vólquez has been 95-97 in relief, and is pitching for free agency. Sampson is an emergency long man.