As the Blue Jays continue to try and play the role of spoiler against the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees one more important date looms on the calender. That is of course next Wednesday when the calender turns to September. At that point the Blue Jays can increase their active roster to as many as forty players. No team ever adds the full fifteen and teams often only call-up a few extra players.
The Blue Jays can use the roster expansion as a chance to take a look at some of their younger players. According to the team's website they currently have one open spot on their forty man roster and a few other players who would most likely pass through waivers to potentially open up additional spots.
Whether or not, manager, Cito Gaston will actually make use of the added players is another subject all together. If players are going to ride the bench all month there's little point in promoting them or getting excited about them from a fan's perspective. The results of the short stints shouldn't be over analyzed, but it is nice to have something to look forward to in the season's last month for a team that isn't playoff bound.
The team does have several veteran players who've struggled this year and they might be doing the team more good by sitting a few extra times a week than continuing to play everyday. Aaron Hill has continued his season long struggle into August and Edwin Encarnacion hasn't done much to demand loads of playing time either.
With the struggles of the team's regular second and third basemen in mind, the Jays may want to use their open roster spot on, twenty-four year old, Brad Emaus. After beginning the season in Double-A, Emaus has continued to thrive at Triple-A in the hitting happy Pacific Coast League. Emaus is hitting .299 with a .205 isolated power, similar numbers to what Brett Wallace produced with Las Vegas.
But unlike Wallace, Emaus has been able to walk more than he strikes out. Between New Hampshire and Las Vegas he has 74 walks to just 64 strikeouts. And while not a prolific base stealer he's swiped 11 bags while being caught just twice. Emaus has also shown defensive versatility splitting time between both second and third.
The plate discipline and base running should carry over to the majors relatively well as they are least influenced by his environment. The .205 ISO certainly is helped by the PCL, Emaus has never slugged higher than .162 at any other level. At twenty-four he still has time to add some power but the plate discipline is there and always has been. With no clear third baseman of the future in their system the Jays should take a look at Emaus as soon as possible.
The Blue Jays have an over crowded outfield situation with Vernon Wells and Adam Lind locked up long term, a couple of veterans earning playing time in Jose Bautista and Fred Lewis and a young man in need of at-bats in Travis Snider. All five figure to be back with the team next season as well, none more certain to return than Wells who is owed a cool twenty-six million dollars next season. It's possible Bautista could be a long term answer at third, and Lind the solution at first once Lyle Overbay departs after the season.
For the time being at-bats in the outfield will be hard to come by for a September call-up. The Jays do have one interesting outfielder they may want to take a look at from Las Vegas, Chris Lubanski. The former number five pick in the 2003 draft by the Kansas City Royals is having his best season in the minors to this point in his career.
A quick glance at his career numbers reveals that a career year for Lubanski isn't necessarily cause for celebration. The twenty-five year old is hitting .301 and showing good power with 15 homers and 23 doubles in 316 at-bats. Lubanski played in just 43 games in 2009, his last in the Royals' system. His defensive numbers have been all over the place and he hasn't played any center field for a few seasons now. Odds are he'll never amount to more than a fourth outfielder at best, but if for nothing more than added depth he could get a call next month.
Other than that J.P. Arencibia is certain to return to join the club next week. Ideally, we'll get to see him in the line-up at least three times a week as the season plays itself out. Don't expect any surprise additions from the Double-A Fisher Cats next week. That team is playoff bound and the Jays will hold off on adding any one from the squad until their playoff run ends, if at all.
If the Jays aren't inclined to play those whom they bring up then Mike McCoy and Jarrett Hoffpauir figure to rejoin the squad. But September usually sees a decent amount of prospects move up and neither McCoy or Hoffpauir figure to be key parts of Jays teams in the future.
A pitcher or two in the bullpen will be added at some point, but at this point almost every pitcher from Vegas has been up at one point or another this year. Rommie Lewis and Brad Mills could return and Robert Ray could join the squad for the first time this year as well. It'd be great to see some of these guys next month, and seeing them do more than ride the pine would be even better.