With MLB rosters set to expand in September, this is a chance for most teams to bolster their major league depth by calling up some of their top prospects from the minors.
Unfortunately for the Toronto Blue Jays, there aren’t too many high-end prospects that the team can promote in September. This is largely because the Blue Jays have already called up most of their major league-ready prospects, such as Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, earlier this season.
Most of Toronto’s remaining top prospects are now in Double-A ball or lower, meaning that they won’t be able to help the big league team this season.
This doesn’t mean that the Blue Jays won’t promote any minor league players in September, though. Let’s take a look at three players who could still earn a call-up next month.
A.J. Jimenez, Catcher
A.J. Jimenez has had a fine season in the minor leagues this year. The 24-year-old has hit .270/.309/.355 with one home run, 20 RBI and 18 runs scored in 53 games played at Triple-A Buffalo.
Offensive numbers aside, Jimenez has also shined defensively behind the plate this season. He’s thrown out 42 percent of base stealers, committed zero errors and has just two passed balls in 43 games played as catcher.
Jimenez may not be the impact bat that the Blue Jays need right now, but he’s a solid defense-first catcher who can hold his own offensively.
Calling Jimenez up in September and adding a third catcher on the roster will allow Toronto to rest Dioner Navarro or use him in a designated hitter role more often.
Sean Nolin, LHP
Sean Nolin certainly isn’t the Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect in the minor leagues, but he’s arguably the closest to the majors in the team’s farm system.
In 14 starts for Triple-A Buffalo this season, Nolin has posted a 4-4 record with a 2.89 ERA. The left-hander has also amassed 74 strikeouts and surrendered just 27 walks in 81.1 innings pitched.
While Nolin is a starting pitcher in the minor leagues, he likely lacks the stuff to be a starter in the majors. The 24-year-old’s fastball tops out in the low 90s, and his off-speed pitches are quite average.
This means that if Nolin is called up by Toronto in September, he’ll likely be sent to the bullpen. Considering that the Blue Jays only have two southpaws in their bullpen right now, Nolin should have no problems carving out a niche for himself as a reliever.
Daniel Norris, LHP
When the 2014 season started, nobody would’ve ever imagined Daniel Norris being on this list. After all, not many 21-year-old pitching prospects go from playing in Single-A ball to being considered as a September call-up within a span of a few months. But that’s exactly what Norris has done.
After posting a combined ERA of 2.22 and piling up 149 strikeouts in 113.2 innings pitched between Class A Advanced Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo this season, Norris is garnering plenty of consideration to be called up to the majors in September.
In fact, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has even hinted that Norris could be a candidate for a promotion in September.
Of course, it’s worth noting that if Norris is indeed called up by Toronto this season, it will be as a reliever. This will allow the team to preserve his innings while letting him get acclimated to the major leagues at the same time. The Blue Jays already used a similar approach earlier this season with Stroman and Sanchez.
All stats are from MILB.com and are current entering play on August 19, 2014.