The MLB playoffs are officially less than a month away. The race is on in the AL West and East, and the excitement has been perpetually building for awhile now.
But we can't overlook what's taking place today: September call-ups.
Some of the best minor league talent is being called up today to help their teams finish the season. Some prospects have already been called up and have proved their worth. Some have been in and out of the majors all year. And some will once again get overlooked and have to wait for their chance to shine.
So who are these minor leaguers who are going to be legit players in 2012?
I guess you'll just have to read to find out.
MLB Club: Washington Nationals
Minor League Stats: .297 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 26 SB
It almost goes without saying that Bryce Harper is going to be an absolute stud in the big leagues. He just has to be called up.
Harper is still only 18 years old, but he has proven that he can play with big boys. In the instructional league, Harper batted a solid .319 with a .407 on-base percentage for the Nationals. He also led the team in hits, home runs, RBI and walks.
Harper started his minor league career off in Class Single-A with the Hagerstown Suns. After showing off his talent, Harper was called up to Class Double-A to play with the Harrisburg Senators.
Since being with the Senators, his stats have taken a hit. Harper has played in 37 games for the Senators and is currently batting .256. He has also hit three home runs and has produced 12 RBI.
Last year's No. 1 draft pick has some time to grow as a player, but the Nationals will want to get him in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
MLB Club: New York Yankees
Minor League Stats: .308 BA, 76 HR, 318 RBI, .501 SLG
Jesus Montero better be a legit player, because he actually just got called up to the Yankees.
In his five years in the minor leagues, Montero has gone up from Class Rookie with the GCL Yankees (2007) all the way to Class Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (2010-present).
Montero has proved be an offensive dynamo while in the minor leagues, which could be one of the reasons that the forever-hyped Yankees prospect has finally been called up.
Montero is expected to see playing time at DH for the Yankees, and if he can prove that he's able to hit major league pitching, he has a chance to replace Jorge Posada as the full-time DH.
From Triple-A to the MLB playoffs is certainly quite a leap, but if any prospect is ready to do it, it's definitely Montero.
He should be a great player for the Yankees for years to come.
MLB Club: New York Yankees
Minor League Stats: 19-17 (W/L), 2.91 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, 352 SO, 132 BB
Manny Banuelos is the second New York Yankees prospect on the list, which seems unfair because the Yankees are...well...the Yankees.
Recently, Banuelos has been promoted up to Class Triple-A where he is currently playing with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the same as Jesus Montero.
As you can imagine, when Banuelos and Montero are playing on the same day, Yankees fans can get pretty excited. It's like looking into the future.
In six starts in Triple-A, Banuelos holds a 2-2 record with a 3.03 ERA. He has recorded 30 strikeouts in 32.3 innings pitched and just 14 walks.
In his most recent start, Banuelos threw a complete game one-hitter as his team blanked the Pawtucket Red Sox.
This was Banuelos' first complete game, but it's surely not his last. If he doesn't get the call up soon, he'll be with the Yankees next season.
MLB Club: Detroit Tigers
Minor League Stats: 10-10 (W/L), 3.36 ERA, 1.141 WHIP, 212 SO, 58 BB
Like Jesus Montero, Jacob Turner is also being called up to the majors today. In fact, Turner is set to start tonight's game against the Kansas City Royals.
This will be Turner's second call-up to the Tigers this season and also his second big league start.
In his first outing, Turner pitched 5.1 innings against the Los Angeles Angels. Unfortunately, he didn't come out victorious, but he did show a lot of potential. He gave up two earned runs while striking out six and walking three.
After being selected in the first round (No. 9) in the 2009 MLB draft, Turner has done nothing but impress. In just two seasons, Turner has already moved up from Class Single-A to Class Triple-A, and now he'll likely finish the year out in Detroit.
If all goes well, Turner could definitely play his way into the starting rotation next season.
MLB Club: Toronto Blue Jays
Minor League Stats: .296 BA, 39 HR, 190 RBI, 62 SB
Brett Lawrie was called-up to the Toronto Blue Jays in early August and he hasn't missed a game since.
Through 25 games, Lawrie is batting .326 with six home runs, 18 RBI and a .674 SLG. Needless to say, he's been doing pretty well for himself.
He has also only committed three errors in his time with the Blue Jays, which is pretty remarkable for a 21-year-old first time call-up who has to play the line (third base).
Lawrie will be around for the Blue Jays through the end of the season, and then he'll have to prove that he can stick around as a full-time starter.
Chances are that he will. Lawrie should be playing everyday for the Blue Jays next season. He has shown the most potential of any player on this list.
MLB Club: Atlanta Braves
Minor League Stats: 28-16 (W/L), 2.84 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 364 SO, 105 BB
After being called up in May, Julio Teheran had a chance to start two games for the Braves this season.
Unfortunately for the 20-year-old pitcher, they weren't pretty. In the two games, Teheran averaged a 5.19 ERA while only recording two strikeouts.
This was quite a change from his dominating pitching ways in the minor leagues. Since his starts, Teheran has been sent back down to the Class Triple-A Gwinnett Braves.
Needless to say, his stint with the Gwinnett Braves was a bit more impressive than his short career with Atlanta.
In Gwinnett, Teheran went 15-2 with a 2.22 ERA. He also recorded 121 strikeouts and only 43 walks.
Based on his great performance, Teheran was recently named the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher and Rookie of the Year.
Teheran will get another chance to display his talents with Atlanta. There's no doubt about that.
MLB Club: Kansas City Royals
Minor League Stats: 20-20 (W/L), 3.44 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 343 SO, 147 BB
Mike Montgomery is just one of the six Royals that were featured in MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects for 2011.
Two of the Royals in that bunch have already been called up and are performing admirably: Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
Montgomery was taken by the Royals in the first round of the 2008 draft. Since then, he has been climbing up the ranks of the minor league.
He is currently stationed with Class Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, but his pitching since joining the Triple-A ranks has been mixed.
He's only 5-10 with a 5.40 ERA with the Storm Chasers, but he has produced a team high 123 strikeouts.
Montgomery is likely to see some time with the Royals next season. He has proved he can be a strikeout king, now he just has to get better.
MLB Club: San Francisco Giants
Minor League Stats: .343 BA, 31 HR, 148 RBI, .596 SLG
Brandon Belt has been on and off of the Giants' roster all season. Currently, he's on it and has been starting in left field (excluding yesterday) for the last 10 games.
While called-up, Belt has made the most of his time. Granted, his batting could be better, as he is currently hitting just .219 with five home runs and 12 RBI.
But Belt is more than just batting, he's actually a great fielder, and his versatility is what keeps him getting called up.
Like I said, Belt has been starting in left field for the Giants, but earlier this season Belt started 19 games at first base.
In the 45 games he has played in, Belt has only committed two errors. What's even more impressive than that is his fielding percentage: .995 for first base, .960 for left field.
As long as Belt keeps getting the job done, he's going to be a valuable player for the Giants.
Chances are he'll be back down to Triple-A when the season is over, but he'll still have the chance to earn a full-time roster spot next season.
MLB Club: Houston Astros
Minor League Stats: 20-29 (W/L), 3.55 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, 414 SO, 118 BB
Lyles was recently optioned back down to Class Triple-A so the Houston Astros could activate outfielder Jordan Schafer.
Before this happened, Lyles was a regular in the Astros rotation. He was called up in May for the first time and actually earned his first victory in his first career start on May 31 against the Chicago Cubs.
Since that victory, Lyles has started 14 other games for the Astros, but he only has a 2-7 record to show for it. Being that the Astros own the worst record in the MLB, this isn't too surprising to see.
The fact of the matter is that Lyles definitely has the potential to be a rotation player for the Astros. He posted a decent ERA in his four seasons in the minors (3.55) and his strikeout totals were very impressive.
Lyles is only 20 years old. He's going to get more chances in future, but for now, he'll likely be pitching out of the bullpen for the rest of the season with his Class Triple-A team in Oklahoma City.
MLB Club: Chicago Cubs
Minor League Stats: .295 BA, 39 HR, 159 RBI, 64 SB
Brett Jackson was the Chicago Cubs first round pick in the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft. Since then, Jackson has proved to be the Cubs' top prospect.
With September call-ups happening, many fans are beginning to wonder why Jackson's name hasn't been mentioned more.
Earlier this season, Jackson was promoted to Class Triple-A where he's currently playing for the Iowa Cubs. Since being there, Jackson has been batting .318 with nine home runs and 25 RBI in 44 games.
Even though the Cubs already have Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin patrolling their outfield, what's the harm in bringing up a top prospect like Jackson?
Let's face it, the Cubs are not very good. They haven't been very good in awhile, actually. Maybe a guy like Jackson could provide a spark for their otherwise hopeless season.
They did this last season with Starlin Castro, and now he's their starting short stop!
Jackson will get his opportunity eventually, but he might be due to see some action now.
MLB Club: Cincinnati Reds
Minor League Stats: .269 BA, 59 HR, 233 RBI, .455 SLG
Devin Mesoraco was the Cincinnati Reds first round draft pick in the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. He has yet to play a game in the big leagues, but that hasn't stopped him from producing in the minors.
Ramon Hernandez, the current starting catcher for the Reds, is 35 years old. Granted, he's still producing, but the years tend to wear down catchers faster than any other position.
Mesoraco is only 23 and has already played five seasons in the minors. He has paid his dues and deserves a chance to be called-up, so why isn't he getting more love?
Mesoraco has been playing Class AAA baseball for the last two seasons with the Louisville Bats. Thi season, Mesoraco hit .289 with 15 home runs and 71 RBI. These aren't bad stats, so maybe it's his fielding that is bringing him down?
In 97 games this season, Mesoraco committed 10 errors, which isn't terrible, but his caught stealing percentage went way down.
In Class AA, Mesoraco caught 41 percent of the runners that tried to steal on him. This season, that number went down to 26 percent. That's...not good.
But that shouldn't be the only reason he hasn't got his shot yet. If he doesn't get called up to finish the season, Mesoraco should be able to compete for a chance again next season.
He will be a good player for Cincinnati when they give him a chance.
MLB Club: Oakland Athletics
Minor League Stats: .296 BA, 66 HR, 344 RBI, 74 SB
After being traded to the Oakland Athletics from the Toronto Blue Jays via the Philadelphia Phillies as part of the Roy Halladay trade last season, Taylor has really showcased his ability in Class Triple-A.
He has yet to be called-up to the Athletics, but he really needs some serious consideration, whether that comes now or in the spring.
First off, let's just marvel at Taylor's physique. The guy is a 6'5" 255 pound outfielder who has stolen 74 bases since being in the minors.
Shouldn't he be playing wide receiver or tight end somewhere?
Secondly, Taylor has shown that he has the ability to hit for power as well as drive runners in. His 344 RBI in the minors stands out on his stat line.
In his first Triple-A season with the A's, Taylor's power seemed to fade away. He had only six home runs in 127 games, but he did record 78 RBI. He did his best job to improve this season as he hit 15 home runs in 91 games.
Taylor is 25 years old and has played five seasons in the minors. It's not too often that a specimen like Taylor comes around, and Oakland really needs to make the most of their prospect.
Eventually, Taylor is going to be a great player in the MLB.
MLB Club: Pittsburgh Pirates
Minor League Stats: 2-3 (W/L), 4.16 ERA, 94 SO, 20 BB
Rounding out the list is Jameson Taillon, the Pittsburgh Pirates' top prospect. The 19-year-old phenom was the No.2 pick in the 2010 draft.
He has yet to make his major league debut, but he has dazzled at times in Class Single-A for the West Virginia Power. He has been clocked at 99 MPH, which is even more intimidating coming from a 6'6" 225 pound hurler.
His 4.16 ERA could definitely use some work, but that much is to be expected from a guy fresh out of high school. His strikeout to walk ratio is promising, and he's not just a fastball thrower.
According to mlb.com, Taillon has a nice three-pitch repertoire. His curve and slider have improved enough to become valid secondary pitches.
Taillon will have to climb his way through the minor leagues, which could make his highly anticipated major league debut more than a year away.
But if he shows promise, the Pirates will have to act on it. You can't just wait around on a guy who's throwing in the upper 90s and killing his competition.