September Call-Ups to Watch

September 2, 2008 at 1:42 pm 8 comments

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It is September. Time for penant races to heat up and for rosters to expand. A lot of teams will add a third catcher, a few bullpen arms, a starter or long reliever, and star prospects. We see a lot of rookies make their major league debuts in September and this year is no different. Here is a look at who will make thier MLB debuts and what to expect of them down the road.

James McDonald (SP – LAD) – I personally love this kid. According to Keith Law at Scouts Inc. he posseses an average fastball or slightly below, above-average curve and changeup, good control and feel for pitching. His curve gets swings and misses in the minors, but it’s a bit of a slow roller and he’ll have to use it more sparingly in the big leagues unless he can tighten its rotation. McDonald projects as a #2 or 3 pitcher in my opinon but some scouts say he is more of a 3-5 guy with his fastball being just average. He reminds me a bit of Kevin Slowey, whom I also love, with less control but a better breaking ball. He should be a very productive big leaguer for many years. In two stops he was 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA, a 141/53 K/BB rate, and only 115 hits allowed in 141 innings.

Mat Gamel (3B – MIL) – Possibly the best hitting prospect not already entrenched in the majors, Gamel posseses plus hit tools, above-average power, decent speed and base running ability, but lacks a position. He has hit his way to the majors after hitting .325/.392/.531 with 35 doubles, 7 triples, 20 homers, 99 RBI, 99 runs, 6 steals (caught 7 times though), and a 57/121 BB/K rate in 529 at-bats mainly in Double-A (21 at-bats in Triple-A). He is blocked at both corner OF spots and at 1B. The Brewers will give him a shot at 3B if Bill Hall continues struggle. He may have to move to one of the spots I mentioned or possibly to the AL to DH. He is a serious rookie of the year candidate next year and should be a very good hitter in his career.

Alcides Escobar (SS – MIL) – The first call-up that made me think. Escobar posseses plus fielding tools at short, plus speed, a good contact stroke, and a very quick bat. Like most young prospects (he turns 22 in December) he needs improvement on pitch recognition and could learn to take a walk. I find this move awkward because the Brewers are in the middle of a playoff race and Escobar has no place to play. He is blocked by J.J. Hardy at short but could back-up there and at 2B or 3B but I wouldn’t mess with that. Most top prospects come up to audition and he and Gamel don’t seem to fit that bill. Maybe the Brewers will shop Hardy in the offseason and they want a closer look at Escobar but now is not the time for that. Escobar has potential to be a Edgar Renteria type but he is a risk to become Angel Berroa if he doesn’t learn pitch recognition or how to take a few more walks.

Angel Salome (C – MIL) – Another hitter from the famed Huntsville squad. Salome is a good hitting catcher with a cannon arm behind the plate. He needs some help back there though with his foot work and catching so a move to 3B in the future isn’t out of the question. If he stays at catcher he could be an all-star and he should get a good amount of playing time in this call-up and hopefully will be the starter next year even though Jason Kendall‘s option was exercised when he reached his alotted amount of plate appearances. Salome is better than Kendall right now in all areas other than pitch recognition and patience (you’ll hear those two things a lot on this list). He has shown huge strides in both areas though. He should hit for average, a ton of doubles, double digit homers, and he should put the ball in play a lot. He models his game after Ivan Rodriguez but that’s not a fair comparison. He hit .360/.415/.559 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 13 homers, 83 RBI, 67 runs, and a 33/57 BB/K rate in 367 at-bats as a 22 year old in Double-A.

Casey McGehee (3B – CHC) – Not a real prospect at all. He projects as a bench player at best. His main tool is he makes decent contact but hard contact. He has little to no loft in his swing and a corner spot is out of question for his bat but he can’t handle a middle position. He is up for a cup of coffee and to be a pinch hitter. Don’t expect too much from this soon to be 26 year old.

John Jaso (C – TB) – He is a plus hitter, especially for catcher. He may not be able to stay behind the plate sporting average to below-average tools there but I see him as a guy that can be a C/1B/DH for a contending club thanks to his excellent hand-eye coordination, plate discipline, and patience. He hits line drives all over the field but lacks raw power and has little to no loft in his swing. He has hit at every level he has played and needs to prove he can handle major league hitting soon because he will be 25 in less than 3 weeks. Between Double-A and Triple-A he hit .273/.391/.426 with 20 homers, 2 triples, 12 homers, 67 RBI, 65 runs, and a ridiculous 72/47 BB/K rate in 392 at-bats. Again, he has the ability to be a great on-base guy and an All-Star at catcher if he can stay at the position.

Fernando Perez (OF – TB) – A pure athlete, Perez is a plus defender, a plus-plus runner, has plus pitch recognition, and he is very patient. He is raw because he played soccer in high school and concentrated on education in college. He is incredibly smart too. He lacks some contact skills but he should improve even though he is 25 already. At worst he is a very good 4th outfielder. His line this year of .288/.361/.393 is his worst in all three categories since playing full-time in pro ball but this was his first season in Triple-A. He also hit 17 doubles, 11 triples, 5 homers, stole 43 bases, 36 RBI, scored 86 runs, and had a BB/K of 58/156 in 511 at-bats. Those K’s need to come down but he looks like a legit leadoff guy if he gets a chance or a great bottom of the order guy. Check out this video where Perez schools a catcher.

Edwin Maysonet (SS – HOU) – A non-prospect that turns 27 in October. He doesn’t have much skill with the bat and I haven’t found a report on his fielding but I assume he is a good fielder if he is at short and getting called up with his weak bat. He hit .271/.343/.379 with 24 doubles, 1 triple, 6 homers, 34 RBI, 59 runs, and a 44/70 BB/K rate in 406 at-bats.

Jon Niese (SP – NYM) – He has put up good numbers every year out of high school at levels where he is one of the youngest competitiors. He has average velocity, a looping Barry Zito curveball, a changeup, control, and a good feel for pitching. He makes his MLB debut tonight against the Brewers and looks to be a part of the Mets future rotation. I see him as a good 3/4. He was 11-8, 3.13, and a 144/58 K/BB rate in 164 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

Matt Antonelli (2B – SD) – Antonelli has great speed and great patience. His bat has taken a horrible hit this year. He is also a little raw at 2B and some scouts think he may be best utilized in CF or as a utility player where he would be plus at both. He hit .215/.335/.322 with 19 doubles, 4 triples, 7 homers, 39 RBI, 62 runs, 6 steals, and a 76/86 BB/K rate in 451 Triple-A at-bats after punishing two stops last year to the tune of .307/.404/.491 with 25 double, 5 triples, 21 homers, 28 steals, 78 RBI, 123 runs, and a 83/94 BB/K in 534 at-bats. I see him as either a very good utility guy or a leadoff hitter at 2B or CF. This September is his audition.

Wade LeBlanc (SP – SD) – He has posted very good numbrs throughout his minor league career with nearly a K per inning. His stuff isn’t quite that good. Here is a scouting report from Baseball America: LeBlanc fits the mold of the classic college lefthander with a feel for pitching and a repertoire that profiles in the back of a rotation. He has a smooth delivery, which he repeats well, and a durable frame. His bread and butter is a plus changeup that he throws with good arm speed. It’s a deceptive pitch, with late sink and fade, and he commands it well. He relies on it heavily, which could present a problem as advanced hitters lay off it. His fastball velocity is below-average. He can touch 90 mph, but typically settles in at 84-87 mph, and struggles with command when he throws harder. His overall command is above-average, and he can manipulate the strike zone with both his fastball and changeup. Sounds like PETCO is the perfect place for him where his numbers will be helped. In Triple-A, the 24 year old lefty was 11-9, 5.32, and a 139/42 K/BB rate in 138.2 innings. It was first year with a bad ERA in his pro career.

Greg Golson (OF – PHI) – This promotion was way too premature for me. Golson is loaded with tools but lacks discipline and has no pitch recognition at all. He has yet to play above Double-A but the Phillies could really use a pinch runner/fielding replacement guy for the stretch run. If Golson ever learns how to recognize a pitch he is a legit 20-30 candidate with very good hit and fielding tools across the board. He doesn’t turn 23 unitl mid-September and hit .282/.333/.434 with 18 doubles, 4 triples, 13 homers, 60 RBI, 64 runs, and a 34/130 BB/K rate in 426 at-bats. Again, he has tools but needs to learn the game of baseball before he is an everyday big leaguer. He could be the starting CF or LF next year and a potential ROY.

Lou Marson (C – PHI) – This move surprised me but the Phillies are going to audition him for next year. He is their catcher of the future. He has come a long way since being drafted out of high school. He posses a great eye, great patience, and decent gap power. He lacks raw power and needs some improvement on defense but he is adequate there. He should be able to step in next year at some point and hold the position for a good 5-6 years. As a 22 year old in Double-A he hit .314/.433/.416 with 18 doubles, 5 homers, 46 RBI, 55 runs, and a 68/70 BB/K rate in 322 at-bats.

Luis Valbuena (2B – SEA) – He has never hit until this year but he has always possesed a good eye, good patience, and good pitch recognition. He had a career .258 average in the minors before this year and an OBP below .340 with a SLUG hovering at .400. He broke out this year hitting .303/.382/.431 with 21 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 60 RBI, 84 runs, 18 steals, and a 59/69 BB/K rate in 452 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. He is small and could add some muscle still. He is someone to watch in my opinion and could be a better solution at 2B next year than Jose Lopez.

Mike Hinckley (SP – WAS) – He has battled injuries throughout his career and he has lost a lot of ability due to it. He isn’t much more than a spot starter or 11/12 man. I think he has a chance to be a decent 5th starter but his chances are very slim. He has no real plus tools anymore and poor control/command. His numbers over Double-A and Triple-A are 5-5, 4.57, and a 73/55 K/BB rate in 90.2 innings in 43 games (7 starts).

Shairon Martis (SP – WAS) – He has very good control and a live fastball but lacks any real out pitch and will be forced to throw in the strike zone in the bigs. His curveball is average with flashes of just above-average. He is very young (21) so he has room to grow but he projects as a 4/5 starter or a good reliever. In 2 stops this year he is 5-6, 3.64, 99/45 K/BB, in 116.1 innings over 21 starts.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erik  |  September 3, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Almost exactly the same September call up article as that Jerk Passan had.

    I think Escobar will play 3rd for the brew crew because Hall isn’t hitting.

    Also David Price will be called up once the AAA playoffs are over.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  September 3, 2008 at 8:54 am

    I haven’t seen Passan’s article yet. I usually don’t read any of his stuff.

    Price will be up for sure after Durham finishes. Maybe even Talbot and Niemann too.

    Reply
  • 3. supremesportsjustice  |  September 3, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Great job Jonathan! On the money…

    Reply
  • 4. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  September 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Thanks! I do appreciate it.

    Reply
  • 5. Charlie Nehl  |  September 3, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I think Micah Hoffpauir of the Chicago Cubs (who’s been up and down a few times this season already) could be a vital part of their bench this late into the season. With Daryle Ward struggling hitting this season, I think Hoff could be his replacement next year, and getting spot starts in the corner OF and 1B. I like this kid a lot.

    The Cubs pretty much called up extra help w/ no prospects making it up. Jeff S. (not gonna try to spell that last name), is already going to be setting up games and will be taking Howry’s spot next season.

    Angel Guzman could fall into the long reliever role that he should now that’s he’s back from Tommy John.

    Koyie Hill is back too…… reattached fingers and all (i’m working on my own piece on this).

    I love call-up time! We get to see some of the audtioneers for next season’s bad teams. =)

    Reply
  • 6. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  September 3, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    I think all those guys will be valuable additions for the Cubs. They will all play important roles that will allow starters to rest and get ready for the postseason. I didn’t mention any of them because they all had prior MLB experience.

    Reply
  • 7. Charlie Nehl  |  September 5, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Yah, I dont think they have much in the farm now that close to being major league ready where they don’t already have some experience in the Bigs.

    Reply
  • 8. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  September 5, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I agree. Also, most of their top talent is in low minors (Josh Vitters) or already up (Jeff Smardzzzkiehskfhuiaja). Jose Ceda is very good and I’m surprised he didn’t get a look in the pen.

    Reply

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