OF Jackie Bradley will rejoin the Red Sox in September.
The expansion of the active roster from 25 to 40 players on September 1 means something different to every team.
For clubs hoping to retain a lead in the standings or make one last run at the postseason, it’s essentially an opportunity to address deficiencies by handpicking the top talent from within the organization.
Meanwhile, teams that have already thrown in the towel for the season have the freedom to experiment with the lineup and audition younger players.
In both scenarios, the common denominator is the use of prospects over the final month of the season. Whether they are fueling a team toward the postseason or competing for a spot in next year’s starting lineup, the success of prospects in September can receive as much attention as the playoff and MVP races.
So, whom can we expect to see in the major leagues when the rosters expand? Here’s a breakdown of the top candidates for a September call-up, position by position.
1. Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves
2013 Stats (AA): .290/.320/.467, 32 XBH (12 HR), 11 SB, 50/15 K/BB (80 G)
Regarded as one of the better defensive catchers in the minor leagues thanks in part to an 80-grade arm, Bethancourt has finally put things together this season in his second tour of the Double-A level. In addition to making more consistent contact and striking out less, the 21-year-old has been on fire since the beginning of July, batting .328 with 17 extra-base hits in 33 games.
With the Braves’ catching situation undecided for the 2014 season and Bethancourt already on the 40-man roster, expect the club to give him a look next month.
2. Max Stassi, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA): .277/.333/.529, 38 XBH (17 HR), 68/19 K/BB (76 G)
A fourth-round draft pick of the A’s in 2009, Stassi struggled to get his career going due to a shoulder injury that limited him to 141 games between the 2010 and 2011 seasons and eventually required surgery. Traded to the Astros during the offseason, the 22-year-old has enjoyed a long-awaited breakout campaign this year, which is also his first at the Double-A level.
Stassi will need to be added to the 40-man roster following the season, and it makes sense for the Astros to give him some reps as a backup—likely his future role—in September.
*Update: In the wake of an injury to Carlos Corporan, the Astros have promoted Stassi, per Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors.
3. J.R. Murphy, New York Yankees
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): .263/.344/.412, 36 XBH (10 HR), 68/45 K/BB (99 G)
Murphy won’t leave a strong impression with his play on either side of the ball, but the 22-year-old has been very consistent since entering the Yankees' system in 2009. Currently enjoying the best year of his professional career, Murphy is a likely candidate for a September call-up as he’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster after the season to avoid eligibility for the Rule 5 draft in December.
4. A.J. Jimenez, Toronto Blue Jays
2013 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): .294/.340/.424, 23 XBH (19 2B), 40/17 K/BB (61 G)
With a career 42 percent caught-stealing rate over six minor league seasons, Jimenez has always been viewed as a glove-first catcher capable of holding his own at the dish if he could only stay healthy.
Even though he’s missed a majority of the 2013 season, the 23-year-old has offered a taste of his offensive potential with a strong showing in the high minors. However, if he’s called up in September, it will be for his defensive prowess behind the plate.
Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (A/AA/AAA): .226/.353/.415, 27 XBH (11 HR), 100/54 K/BB (79 G)
It’s been a disappointing season for Singleton, who missed the first 50 games of the year while serving a suspension after a positive test for a drug of abuse (marijuana). Following his return to action in late May, the 21-year-old made quick work of the Low-A and Double-A levels before stalling out over the last two months at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The only thing working in his favor toward a September call-up is the fact that the Astros will need to add him to the 40-man roster following the season.
Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats (R/SS/AAA): .280/.337/.475, 25 XBH (13 HR), 55/19 K/BB (68 G)
After a strong showing for the upstart Dutch in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Schoop had a sluggish start to the season as a 21-year-old in Triple-A. To make matters worse, he was forced to miss roughly six weeks with a stress fracture in his back during the heart of the season. He’s struggled to settle in since returning to Triple-A Norfolk, but his status on the 40-man roster could get him a look in the major leagues this September.
1. Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (AAA): .331/.359/.481, 170 H, 46 XBH (12 HR), 16 SB, 94/20 K/BB (118 G)
If it wasn’t for the presence of Didi Gregorius, Owings might already be in the major leagues. The 22-year-old infielder has been a monster at Triple-A Reno this season, leading all Pacific Coast League batters with 170 hits. Although he makes lots of hard contact to all fields, Owings' approach and plate discipline (94 strikeouts, 20 walks in 118 games) still leave something to be desired.
But considering that he’ll inevitably be added to the 40-man roster during the offseason, the shortstop could get a look this September even if only to spell Gregorius against left-handed pitching.
2. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
2013 Stats (A+/AA): .283/.347/.570, 68 XBH (31 HR), 19 SB, 131/38 K/BB (117 G)
Baez struggled at High-A Daytona to begin the season but eventually caught fire and received a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Tennessee. Since arriving at the more advanced level, the 20-year-old has been one of the hottest hitters in the minor leagues with a .993 OPS with 28 extra-base hits in 41 games.
While his plate discipline and propensity to swing and miss suggest he needs more time to develop in the minor leagues, the Cubs have already shown a desire to challenge Baez. Plus, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to put some pressure on Starlin Castro over the final month of the season.
Mike Olt, Chicago Cubs
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): .193/.286/.383, 34 XBH (14 HR), 119/43 K/BB (93 G)
Olt had a dismal first half of the season and missed more than a month with vision problems. Since then, the 24-year-old’s undergone LASIK eye surgery and been traded to the Cubs, but still is yet to find his groove in Triple-A this season. As long as he can show signs of turning the corner in the coming weeks, Olt should get his first opportunity with his new club in September.
1. Jackie Bradley, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats (AAA): .280/.379/.495, 36 XBH (10 HR), 6 SB, 63/39 K/BB (68 G)
2013 Stats (MLB): .155/.258/.310, 5 XBH, 20/7 K/BB (23 G)
Bradley struggled in his first taste of the major leagues after breaking spring training with the Red Sox and has battled several minor injuries this season following a demotion to Triple-A. However, the 23-year-old’s bat is heating up at the right time with an imminent return to the majors on the horizon, as he’s posted a .913 OPS and five extra-base hits through 10 games this month.
2. Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
2013 Stats (AAA): .277/.349/.445, 50 XBH (15 HR), 87/53 K/BB (123 G)
Left field has been a weak spot (relatively speaking) for the Tigers this season, with the club employing a tandem of Andy Dirks, Matt Tuiasosopo and Don Kelly depending on the matchup. Meanwhile, top prospect Nick Castellanos’ path to playing time was partially cleared when the Tigers dealt outfielder Avisail Garcia to the White Sox at the trade deadline.
The 21-year-old’s defense is still raw and he’s regressed at the dish a bit during the second half, but it’s still worth giving him a brief look in September while offering rest to their regulars.
3. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
2013 Stats (AAA): .257/.309/.348, 26 XBH (16 2B), 71 SB, 97/35 K/BB (113 G)
After setting the professional stolen-base record last season with 155 in 132 games between High- and Double-A, Hamilton has come down to earth in 2013 with Triple-A Louisville. He’s actually been more successful on the basepaths than he was a season ago, but his bat and on-base skills have noticeably regressed at the more advanced level.
While a strong case can be made for the 22-year-old to finish the year in the minor leagues, I’d be surprised if the Reds don’t utilize his speed in a reserve role over the final month of the season.
4. Mike O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): .326/.432/.384, 19 XBH (15 2B), 19 SB, 33/82 K/BB (117 G)
The new "Greek God of Walks," O’Neill has amassed 213 walks compared to only 95 strikeouts in 328 minor league games. He’s undersized at 5’9” and lacks the profile of an everyday outfielder, but there’s something to be said for his .332/.439/.412 batting line over four seasons.
The 25-year-old fits the mold of the classic Cardinals overachiever and could see some time in the team’s big league outfield in September to offer Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday additional rest.
5. Michael Choice, Oakland Athletics
2013 Stats (AAA): .300/.387/.445, 39 XBH (14 HR), 112/63 K/BB (120 G)
The No. 10 overall selection in the 2010 draft, Choice probably would already be in the major leagues had he not suffered a broken hand during the 2012 season. While he hasn’t showcased the robust light-tower power that he did during his full-season debut in 2011 (30 home runs in 118 games), Choice has made noticeable adjustments to his approach and improved his strikeout and walk rates as a result.
The only thing seemingly holding him back from the major leagues is a spot on the 40-man roster.
6. Kent Matthes, Colorado Rockies
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): .277/.334/.489, 47 XBH (15 HR), 16 SB, 93/27 K/BB (99 G)
Coming off a down year in 2012, Matthes has resuscitated his stock this year while splitting time between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old isn’t much of a prospect anymore and has endured multiple injuries throughout his five-year career in the minors. Still, he has some pop from the right side and could be worth a look for the Rockies this September.
7. George Springer, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): .301/.410/.607, 64 XBH (35 HR), 100 RBI, 39 SB, 150/75 K/BB (123 G)
With the first 30-30 season in the minor leagues since 2009 (Grant Desme) already under his belt, Springer now has his sights set on 40-40. And given his track record of hot streaks at the plate, the feat is definitely possible. The Astros have openly stated that the 23-year-old will finish the season in the minor leagues, but if any position player other than Xander Bogaerts has warranted a call-up, it’s Springer.
1. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 79 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .261 BAA, 78/14 K/BB (15 G/14 GS)
2013 Stats (MLB): 33.1 IP, 6.21 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .301 BAA, 26/9 K/BB (9 G/5 GS)
While Gausman was expected to move quickly through the Orioles' system, the organization rushed him to the major leagues this season. As a result, he showed excellent stuff but struggled with his command against big league hitters. The 22-year-old fared better as a reliever, registering a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings over four appearances, but has been working as a starter following a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk in mid-July.
The Orioles have carefully monitored Gausman’s workload over the last few weeks to keep him fresh, and there’s no question that the right-hander has the potential to be an X-factor for them over the final month of the season.
2. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 72.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .219 BAA, 63/27 K/BB (15 GS)
2013 Stats (MLB): 16 IP, 6.19 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .302 BAA, 13/7 K/BB (11 G/1 GS)
After a late start to his season due to visa issues, Martinez has split the year between the minor and major leagues. The 21-year-old has pitched very well this season as a member of both the Double- and Triple-A starting rotations, but struggled in 11 appearances with the Cardinals (10 as a reliever).
Boasting a three-pitch mix highlighted by a plus fastball and changeup, the right-hander has the stuff to miss bats with ease at any level. However, due to his lack of stamina and frequent struggles to work deep into games, Martinez will likely work out of the Cardinals bullpen once again in September.
3. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats (AAA): 116.1 IP, 3.56 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .232 BAA, 113/39 K/BB (21 GS)
2013 Stats (MLB): 18 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .297 BAA (3 HR), 14/4 K/BB (4 G/3 GS)
Even though Odorizzi features above-average command of a deep, four-pitch mix, the 23-year-old right-hander doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff and his evolution into a fly-ball pitcher remains a concern. Still, Odorizzi has already shown the ability to get out major league hitters this season between two separate stints with the Rays and should receive more opportunities, in some capacity, once the rosters expand on September 1.
4. Brian Flynn, LHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 149 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .240 BAA, 139/42 K/BB (25 GS)
Acquired last July in the deal that sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to Detroit, Flynn has made a strong impression during his first full season with the Marlins. At 6’7”, 240 pounds, the left-hander has started to put things together this season and moved up the organizational ladder as a result.
After registering a 1.57 ERA over four starts for Double-A Jacksonville, the 23-year-old was promoted to Triple-A New Orleans where he’s posted a 3.00 ERA and 8.1 K/9 in 126 innings. And with a lack of long-term options in the starting rotation beyond Jose Fernandez and Jacob Turner, it makes sense for the Marlins to audition Flynn in the major leagues over the final month of the season.
5. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 123.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .229 BAA, 144/51 K/BB (24 G/23 GS)
After conquering the Double-A level over the first half of the season, Ventura was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Omaha in early June.
While the 22-year-old got off to a shaky start within the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, posting a 5.95 ERA with 26 hits allowed and a 21-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first five starts, he’s since righted the ship with a 2.00 ERA and 43-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 36 frames (seven starts).
After adding considerable strength to his wiry, 5’11” frame over the last year, Ventura has blossomed into a legitimate starting pitcher this season in the high minors. However, due to the collective success of the team’s starting pitching since the All-Star break, he's likely to be used as a reliever this September.
6. Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 130 IP, 2.01 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .198 BAA, 118/34 K/BB (22 GS)
One of the few bright spots in the White Sox’s bleak system, Johnson has emerged as the organization’s top pitching prospect this season behind a projectable four-pitch mix. The 23-year-old right-hander will work comfortably in the low to mid-90s with his fastball and complements it with one of the better right-handed sliders in the minor leagues.
After excelling at both Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season, Johnson is deserving of a promotion to the major leagues. And with a strong performance this September, the right-hander could earn a spot in the 2014 starting rotation.
7. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2013 Stats (AA): 95 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .235 BAA, 109/22 K/BB (17 GS)
Stroman sat out the first 50 games of the 2013 season while serving a PED-related suspension but has been excellent in the Double-A starting rotation since returning in May. Despite his diminutive, 5’9” build, Stroman possesses ridiculous arm strength with an explosive fastball that reaches the upper 90s, and he complements the pitch with a wipeout slider and underrated changeup.
Because he missed time earlier in the year and logged only 95 innings as a result, the 22-year-old is a prime candidate to finish his season in the major leagues. In general, I think it would be a healthy and appropriate challenge for him.
8. Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 148.2 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .218 BAA, 121/48 K/BB (26 G/22 GS)
Wojciechowski has quickly ascended the Astros’ system since coming over from the Blue Jays in July 2012, largely due to the vast improvement of his secondary pitches. At 6’4”, 235 pounds, the right-hander is a workhorse capable of eating innings and demonstrates a consistent feel for three average or better offerings.
The 24-year-old has already logged 148.2 innings this year between two minor league levels, so there’s some question as to how long the Astros will let him go this season. But if they view Wojciechowski as a candidate for the 2014 starting rotation, then it’s likely he’ll at least get his feet wet this September.
9. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (A+/AA): 136.2 IP, 1.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .214 BAA, 150/59 K/BB (23 GS)
No pitching prospect has improved his stock more this season than Bradley. Moved up to Double-A Mobile after five dominant starts in the California League, the 21-year-old didn’t skip a beat despite the jump in competition and has thrived as one of the younger pitchers in the Southern League.
Bradley has logged only 136.2 frames so far this year and may require more work following the conclusion of the minor league season. For that reason, and especially if the Diamondbacks play their way back into playoff contention, the right-hander has a realistic chance to be promoted in September, even if only to gain some experience out of the bullpen.
10. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 126.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .218 BAA, 117/42 K/BB (22 GS)
The No. 39 overall selection in the 2010 draft, Ranaudo had a hugely disappointing 2012 season in which he logged only 37.2 innings (nine starts) and spent most of the year on the disabled list. This season, however, the 23-year-old has made up for lost time with a strong performance at Double-A Portland and now Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Red Sox have turned to the minor leagues for a starter on several occasions this season (Allen Webster, Brandon Workman), and Ranaudo is seemingly next in line for a promotion.
11. Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 138.2 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .228 BAA, 134/31 K/BB (24 GS)
Although he doesn’t have the pure stuff of Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, Montero possesses an outstanding feel for pitching with above-average command of four pitches. The 22-year-old made quick work of the Eastern League before a midseason promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas and is making a strong case for a September call-up with a 0.82 ERA and 21-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last three starts.
He probably won’t miss as many bats in the major leagues as he has in the minors, but he still has the potential to prove his value as a solid back-end starter with a strong showing next month.
12. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (A+/AA): 82.1 IP, 1.42 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .208 BAA, 80/23 K/BB (17 G/16 GS)
The Marlins aren’t afraid to go against the grain and promote a prospect to the major leagues ahead of schedule, as evidenced by the recent call-ups of outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. It may not be long until left-hander Andrew Heaney, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 draft, joins his former Double-A teammates in Miami.
After missing roughly the first six weeks of the 2013 season with an oblique injury, the 22-year-old has asserted his proximity to The Show since returning with a dominant showing between High-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. With only 82.1 innings under his belt, Heaney, like Marcus Stroman, is a candidate to complete his workload this season in the major leagues.
13. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 130.1 IP, 3.11 ERA, .217 BAA, 145/51 K/BB (23 GS)
Walker mastered the Double-A level in his second tour this season and has held his own with Triple-A Tacoma following a promotion in late June. However, the 21-year-old has struggled with his command at the more advanced level and, at times, been a victim of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League environments.
He’s already eclipsed his inning total from 2012 (126.2 IP) and has roughly five more starts remaining with Tacoma. Although a promotion to the major leagues in September is a possibility, the combination of his age and need for additional refinement makes it doubtful.
14. Mike Wright, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats (AA): 135.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .261 BAA, 129/36 K/BB (24 GS)
After struggling at Double-A Bowie to conclude the 2012 season, Wright, 23, has been more consistent this year in his second tour of the level.
The 6’6”, 215-pound right-hander features a three-pitch arsenal that’s highlighted by an above-average-to-plus fastball. He doesn’t feature Kevin Gausman-like stuff, but his feel for pitching and ability to sequence could help him get a few starts with the Orioles, if the need arises, over the final month of the season.
15. Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 135.2 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .242 BAA, 139/55 K/BB (24 GS)
Considering the Brewers already have auditioned some of their better pitching prospects in the major leagues this season, it’s seemingly only a matter of time until Nelson gets the call. At 6’6”, 245 pounds, the right-hander is a presence on the mound and pounds the lower half of the strike zone with a heavy fastball in the low to mid-90s.
Furthermore, the major part of his success this season in the high minors stems from his ability to execute his secondary offerings. While his command has regressed slightly following a midseason promotion to Triple-A Nashville, the 24-year-old could receive a late-season call-up with a chance at cracking the 2014 starting rotation.
1. Wilmer Font, RHP, Texas Rangers
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 14 SV, 48 IP, 0.94 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .125 BAA, 66/33 K/BB (38 G)
2013 Stats (MLB): 1.1 IP, H, 2 BB (2 G)
Due to his ability to miss bats consistently, Font was converted to a full-time reliever in 2012 following a promotion to Double-A Frisco in late July. He enjoyed immediate success in the new role and ultimately appeared in three games out of the Rangers' big league bullpen.
The 23-year-old right-hander has been outstanding this year in his first full season as a reliever and even added two more scoreless appearances out of the Rangers bullpen to his resume shortly before the All-Star break. And since Font has performed well in two brief stints in the majors over the last two years, he should be ready for a more serious role this September.
2. Vic Black, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats (AAA): 17 SV, 43.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .151 BAA, 60/17 K/BB (35 G)
2013 Stats (MLB): 4 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3/2 K/BB (3 G)
Coming off a breakout 2012 campaign at Double-A Altoona, Black has furthered his success this season at Triple-A Indianapolis.
The hard-throwing right-hander has demonstrated vastly improved command of his upper-90s fastball and wipeout slider. The 25-year-old also received his first taste of the major leagues, making three appearances out of the Pirates bullpen following the injury to closer Jason Grilli.
Even though he was recently optioned back to Triple-A, Black, who’s already on the team’s 40-man roster, will undoubtedly be back in the major leagues once the roster expands on September 1, if not sooner.
3. Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants
2013 Stats (AAA): 30 SV, 51.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .239 BAA, 60/15 K/BB (51 G)
Viewed as the Giants' future closer when the team selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, Hembree might have already reached the major leagues if not for the emergence of Sergio Romo and a lengthy stay on the disabled list in 2012. When healthy, Hembree, a 6’4” right-hander, boasts a plus fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and sharp slider that serves as his out pitch.
While he’s struggled with his command at times this season at Triple-A Fresno, the 24-year-old has been dominant as of late with nine consecutive scoreless appearances in which he’s amassed eight saves, allowed three hits and struck out seven batters. Additionally, the Giants could audition Hembree in September with the goal of making Romo expendable by the 2014 trade deadline.
4. Onelki Garcia, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 55.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .204 BAA, 56/33 K/BB (29 G/6 GS)
In his first full season as a professional, Garcia got off to a slow start with a 4.00 ERA and 13-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings (four starts). And after struggling with his control, the Dodgers relegated the left-hander to the bullpen where he’s been lights-out since early June.
As a reliever, Garcia has posted a 1.52 ERA with 20 hits allowed and a 39-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35.2 innings. More significantly, he’s allowed only eight hits in 64 plate appearances against same-side pitching this season while tallying 21 strikeouts. Based on his recent promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque, it appears the Dodgers could utilize Garcia as a LOOGY in September.
5. Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
2013 Stats (A/A+/AA): 4 SV, 16 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .279 BAA, 14/7 K/BB (16 G/1 GS)
Even though he was drafted as a pitcher in June, it’s believed the Reds will allow Lorenzen to develop as a two-way player next season. For now, however, he’s working as a late-inning reliever and rising through their system in a hurry.
After making his professional debut in the rookie-level Arizona League, the 21-year-old made brief stops at Low-A Dayton and High-A Bakersfield before a recent promotion to Double-A Pensacola. The right-hander has legitimate closer stuff, including an explosive fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and a hammer curveball.
It may seem like a stretch, but I think there’s a decent chance he pitches out of the Reds bullpen before the end of the year.
6. Jake Barrett, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (A+/AA): 25 SV, 46 IP, 1.37 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .193 BAA, 50/12 K/BB (46 G)
Nabbed in the third round of the 2012 draft, Barrett has a plus fastball-slider combination that’s ideal for a late-inning bullpen role.
After a strong full-season debut in 2012, the 6’3” right-hander has jumped on the fast track to the major leagues this season, splitting the year between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile. And considering his overwhelming success at the more advanced level, the 22-year-old is a candidate for a late-season promotion to The Show.
7. Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, San Diego Padres
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 14 SV, 60.1 IP, 1.79 ERA, .211 BAA, 78/27 K/BB (52 G)
Much like current Padres closer Huston Street, Quackenbush has the ability to miss bats and get outs despite a lack of overpowering stuff. As a result, the 24-year-old has emerged as one of the more effective closers in the minor leagues since the start of the 2011 season.
Following a promotion to Triple-A Tuscon in mid-June, Quackenbush seems poised to join San Diego's bullpen in September. And like the Giants and Heath Hembree, the Padres may decide to break in the right-hander next month with the hope of dealing Street during the offseason.