The fantasy season, like the regular season, is coming to a close, but there is still time to make a difference in September thanks to the wonder of September call-ups.
Most of the top prospects who were going to get brought up this year have been called up already. We aren't going to see a more highly-regarded player than Boston's Xander Bogaerts, brought up last week, before the end of the year, though that doesn't mean there aren't options to choose from.
Taking a look at where all 30 teams stand right now, and where they hope to be at the end of the year, plenty of young players are going to leave their mark. All you have to do is be vigilant and scour the waiver wire before they are gone.
Fortunately, we are here to help you by providing some insight about names you might see called up in the coming days and their potential impact. We will break things down by category, looking at the September call-ups who will be valuable fantasy assets.
All of the potential call-ups are our best educated guesses, unless there is information about an imminent move, so you will have to keep an eye out on the news wire. But this is also a look at the talent of players ready to get a one-month MLB run before the end of the year.
Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have already indicated that Gausman is likely to be one of their first September call-ups. They are in the middle of a playoff race and desperately need all the arms they can get for the stretch run.
It will be curious to see if the Orioles use Gausman in the rotation or out of the bullpen. He did have some issues with command during his first stint in Baltimore, but a 26-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, even in a small sample size, is very good and serves him well moving forward.
Pitcher wins are such a difficult thing to predict because it depends on what the offense does just as much as how well the pitcher throws the ball. I think Gausman will be good for 2-3 victories in September by virtue of, if the report is to be believed, being guaranteed a spot in the big leagues and the fact the Orioles have one of the best offenses in baseball.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
The Royals are in a good spot right now with depth in the starting rotation and bullpen, so Yordano Ventura isn't needed. But that arm would be really nice in late-inning situations, and give manager Ned Yost one more option to choose from.
I could see the Royals not wanting to push Ventura one more time this season—he moved up from Double-A to Triple-A after 11 starts—and his innings total this season (129.1) is already 20 more than his previous career high set last year.
But again, Ventura's arm could be a huge difference maker. He touches triple digits with the fastball and has a knockout curveball that can get big leaguers out.
I think his ultimate role will be out of the bullpen, because his small 5'11" stature makes it difficult to get plane on the fastball, but I could understand the Royals wanting to develop him as a starter and not deviating from that plan.
That said, this is the first year the Royals have been in a playoff chase, even if their prospects are slim at seven games back, and they may feel a desire to take one final run at things. If Ventura comes out of the bullpen, I have no doubt he would post a terrific ERA and WHIP because the raw stuff is so good and will play well in a short stint.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona is clinging to life in the playoff race, trailing Cincinnati by six games for the second Wild Card spot entering play Tuesday, meaning the front office will have to decide if it wants to shoot for the moon in an effort to win this year or bite the bullet and prepare for 2014.
Either way, the player who makes a lot of sense for the Diamondbacks is Tyler Skaggs. The 22-year-old lefty did not have a lot of success in his first big league stint this season, giving up seven home runs in 38.2 innings with a 5.12 ERA.
But Skaggs did serve a purpose in some respects, especially one that will also be of interest to fantasy owners: strikeouts. He punched out nearly one hitter per inning in his seven starts with Arizona (36 in 38.2 innings).
Skaggs' stuff has dipped noticeably this season, particularly the velocity on his fastball which has gone from 92-94 to 88-91 on most days, so his ultimate ceiling might not be as high as it was at the end of last year.
The Diamondbacks do need to get a sense for what they have in Skaggs, because their rotation is deep and he could battle it out for a back-end job next year. He hasn't been very good since being sent back to Triple-A Reno, giving up 35 hits and 13 earned runs in 22.2 innings, but some of that can be forgiven because the PCL is a brutal league for pitching.
I can't lie: The market for closers among September call-ups appears bleak because every team in contention that might need bullpen help is already set in the ninth inning. Teams that aren't contending for a playoff spot aren't good enough to garner a lot of save chances or also have someone locked into the closing job.
Unless a team like the Cubs can find someone to take Kevin Gregg, or the Marlins dump Steve Cishek on the side of the road because he will be entering arbitration next season and could be too expensive for them, there aren't many saves to be had out there.
Ventura, for reasons I already talked about, has the potential to be a late-inning reliever and would fill a role for the Royals this season. But they also have Greg Holland, who isn't going anywhere with 81 strikeouts and 35 saves in 51 innings.
Perhaps there will be a game or two where the Royals want to give Holland a day off, possibly opening the door for Ventura's big fastball-curveball combination to rack up a few saves.
Again, I don't feel especially good about this choice but there aren't a lot of options out there right now.
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
One of the favorites to win Minor League Player of the Year, George Springer is just three home runs away from putting together a 40-40 season. He currently sports a .301/.411/.606 line across Double-A and Triple-A.
However, because Triple-A Oklahoma City is in the playoffs, Springer doesn't figure to be on the radar for the Astros until the Red Hawks' season ends. But given the dearth of impact September prospects on the position player side, as well as Springer's raw upside, I could see him posting 10-15 hits in 35-40 at-bats.
The big problem with Springer, which has held true this year, is striking out. He has punched out 158 times in 472 at-bats, which is an easy way to keep your average down. I do think that there is enough in his other tools, especially the power and speed, that can make up some of the difference early in his career until pitchers adjust to him and he's forced to make more adjustments of his own.
I debated going in another direction for this category. Arizona's Chris Owings was my other choice, but his lack of an approach and patience at the plate gives me pause about how well he will hit upon being called up.
Springer, assuming a call-up happens, plays in a very good park to hit home runs. The Astros don't play the most difficult schedule as far as pitching goes, with series remaining against the Twins, Angels, Indians and the Rangers.
No call-up is going to make a huge dent in the power department. I would say Springer hits no more than 3-5 homers, which is still a respectable total for a player in his first month but hardly anything shocking.
Michael Choice, OF, Oakland Athletics
I will caution to say that if Choice were going to be called up, it would have made sense for the A's to do it when Coco Crisp was on the disabled list. It didn't happen then, so it's entirely plausible it won't happen in September with Oakland in a playoff race.
However, on the chance that Choice does get called up, his bat is good enough to produce some solid RBI totals for fantasy owners down the stretch. The A's are a solid offensive team with enough players who get on base throughout the lineup that the opportunities will be there for Choice.
Like wins and saves for pitchers, RBIs are all about opportunities. I could have plugged Springer in here and felt okay about it, but the Astros lineup is so bad that even if he hits three to five home runs, they could all easily end up being solo shots.
Go for a player with a deeper lineup when projecting RBIs, which is why Choice gets the nod in this spot.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
This might be the biggest limb that I go out on as far as September call-ups, but if ever there was a time to use the gifts that Hamilton has, now would be the time.
It's no secret this has been a rough, eye-opening season for Hamilton. He's hitting just .257/.310/.346 in 119 games with Triple-A Louisville. The questions about his potential have always revolved around the bat and if there was enough raw strength to drive the ball, something that appears to have been answered this season.
Hamilton turns 23 on September 9, so it is not the time to completely throw out hope. But last year the Reds may have been rational by not bringing him to the big leagues down the stretch because he had a long year and didn't really have a spot to play since shortstop wasn't going to be his ultimate position.
This year, Hamilton has learned center field. He is still raw out there but the speed helps him get where he needs to be. And for the Reds, who rank 26th in stolen bases with 41, to be able to use a weapon like Hamilton off the bench in pinch-running situations while giving him an occasional start is a valuable asset.
Even in a down offensive season with a .310 OBP at Triple-A, Hamilton still has 73 steals. The speed will play at any level, he just needs the opportunity to show it off.
If you want to talk baseball, feel free to hit me on Twitter with questions or comments.