Each MLB Team's Projected September Call-Up Who'll Never Be Sent Down Again

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2017

Each MLB Team's Projected September Call-Up Who'll Never Be Sent Down Again

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    September is an exciting time for MLB clubs in the playoff hunt because it signifies the final lap of the 162-game marathon.

    It's also notable for squads with little or no shot at the postseason because of Sept. 1 roster expansions, when the entire 40-man contingent is eligible to occupy the dugout.

    This is when top prospects and demoted players ascend the brightest stage. Some are in for a sip of coffee; others are up for the long haul.

    We're interested in the latter group—specifically, one projected September call-up from each major league franchise who will never be sent down again.

    Obviously, there's ample guesswork involved, but we're searching for guys with the stats, skill sets and opportunities to turn big league auditions (or reauditions) into permanent gigs.

    Keep in mind, also, that while there are plenty of blue chips on this list, a lesser regarded prospect with a clear niche to fill can make the cut.

Arizona Diamondbacks: 1B/3B/OF Christian Walker

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks can't count on much minor league cavalry as they fight for one of the National League's two wild-card slots. Their farm system, which Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked No. 26 in the game, isn't bursting with MLB-ready talent.

    Here's a name to keep an eye on, though: Christian Walker.

    The 26-year-old is bashing his way to prominence with Triple-A Reno and owns a .998 OPS with 32 home runs and 111 RBI in 123 games. 

    He's made the bulk of his starts at first base, a position occupied on the big club by franchise cornerstone and MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. 

    Walker, however, can also play third base and the outfield, and his potent bat could be a welcome addition for a D-backs team that has scuffled offensively of late. 

    He had tastes of The Show in 2014 and 2015 with the Baltimore Orioles and is long in the tooth for a prospect. Even in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League, though, his numbers are eye-opening. 

Atlanta Braves: RHP Akeel Morris

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    In 7.1 innings with the Atlanta Braves this season, right-hander Akeel Morris posted a 1.23 ERA with nine strikeouts.

    Between Double-A and Triple-A, meanwhile, the 24-year-old owns a 2.93 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 46.0 innings.

    Clearly he has little to prove in the minor leagues and should become a permanent fixture in the Braves' bullpen once he gets his next call.

Boston Red Sox: INF Deven Marrero

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    The Boston Red Sox have solved their third-base conundrum with the call-up of rookie Rafael Devers, who has delivered all they could have hoped for and more at the hot corner.

    Leave room for Deven Marrero, however, who brings slick glove work and is capable of playing all over the infield, including spelling Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.

    The 26-year-old Marrero will likely never be a beast at the plate, as his .554 career OPS across 96 big league games attests, but as a versatile utility player, his time is coming. 

Baltimore Orioles: C Chance Sisco

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    Baltimore Orioles catcher Welington Castillo has a $7 million player option for 2018, and Caleb Joseph is under club control through 2020.

    The team's backstop of the future, however, is No. 1 prospect Chance Sisco, per MLB.com, and that future is coming soon. 

    The 22-year-old owns a .312 average and .814 OPS across five minor league seasons and is hitting .271 with 23 doubles in his first full season at Triple-A Norfolk.

    The converted shortstop's development behind the dish has also been notable, as Norfolk right-hander Tyler Wilson explained to David Hall of The Virginian-Pilot (via the Frederick News-Post).

    "He's got really good hands back there," Wilson said, per Hall. "He's got great feet. He's got an infielder's feet, which makes sense. It's fun to watch how much he's developed."

Chicago Cubs: RHP Dillon Maples

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    Dillon Maples began the 2017 season at High-A Myrtle Beach, but the 25-year-old right-hander has rocketed through the Cubs' system, ascending as high as Triple-A.

    Now, after posting a 2.36 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 61 MiLB frames this season, he's knocking on the door of a big league promotion.

    A 2011 draft pick (14th round), Maples has stalled at times in his development because of injury and inconsistency. He appears to have turned a corner, however.

    "It's hard to give up on that 97, 98 mile-per-hour arm," Triple-A Iowa manager Marty Pevey said, per Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. "Plus, that slider is a knee-buckler."

    It remains to be seen whether Maples can translate his results to Wrigley Field for the defending champions. If he can, it's safe to say he'll have a role down the stretch and going forward.

    To get the latest on the Cubs and all their prospects, download the new B/R app.

Chicago White Sox: RHP Michael Kopech

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    OK, admittedly this one is a bit of a stretch.

    The Chicago White Sox have already called up the most obvious chips from their glistening farm system, including infielder Yoan Moncada and right-hander Lucas Giolito.

    The flame-throwing Michael Kopech, meanwhile, just made his Triple-A debut Monday, logging five solid innings for the Charlotte Knights.

    Overall, the 21-year-old has a 2.75 ERA and has averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 259 minor league frames. 

    The rebuilding Sox could give Kopech a September audition and then send him back to Charlotte for more seasoning in 2018. He has the kind of live arm, however, that could cement a permanent MLB job, tender age be damned. 

Cincinnati Reds: 3B Nick Senzel

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    Like the White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds are in full-blown rebuild mode and have thus called up a number of minor leaguers ahead of the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

    Their top prospect, however, is still toiling on the farm.

    That would be third baseman Nick Senzel, the second overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft. In 117 games between High-A and Double-A this season, Senzel is hitting .316 with an .896 OPS.

    "In my opinion, he's big league-ready," said Gookie Dawkins, the hitting coach for Double-A Pensacola, per C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He's the real deal."

    As the Reds look to construct a winner, they'll surely give Senzel every opportunity to prove Dawkins right.

Cleveland Indians: C Francisco Mejia

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    The Cleveland Indians have gotten little offensive production from catchers Yan Gomes (.219 average, .670 OPS) and Roberto Perez (.180 average, .544 OPS).

    Top prospect Francisco Mejia, meanwhile, is hitting .305 with an .862 OPS for Double-A Akron.

    That's a long way from the big leagues, and the Tribe may opt to take their time with Mejia's development.

    A September call-up should be in the cards, however, and if he outperforms Gomes and Perez, it'll be hard for the defending American League champs to justify stashing him at Triple-A Columbus.

Colorado Rockies: INF Ryan McMahon

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    In a four-game audition with the Colorado Rockies, Ryan McMahon went 2-for-9 with a double before being optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque. 

    At that level, the 22-year-old is hitting .375 with a 1.023 OPS, impressive numbers even in the offense-boosting Pacific Coast League.

    McMahon will surely return to Colorado when rosters expand. If so, he'll get a chance to boost the Rockies' postseason push and could supplant veteran and impending free agent Mark Reynolds at first base in 2018.

Detroit Tigers: INF Jeimer Candelario

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    Acquired from the Cubs in the deal that sent reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to the North Side, Jeimer Candelario has already seen action with the Detroit Tigers during a brief call-up.

    In 100 games at Triple-A, the 23-year-old boasts an .842 OPS with 15 home runs and is the best MLB-ready prospect in a recovering Detroit system. 

    Expect Candelario to get regular reps at third base in September and beyond as the Tigers slide Nick Castellanos to the outfield.

Houston Astros: RHP Rogelio Armenteros

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    As the No. 26 prospect in the Houston Astros' system, per MLB.com, Rogelio Armenteros doesn't register among the game's elite minor leaguers. 

    The 23-year-old Cuban has put together an eye-opening season between Double-A and Triple-A, however, posting a 2.11 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 110.2 innings. 

    Now, he could be due for a promotion to the big club as the 'Stros try to cement an AL West title and make a deep postseason run.

    "He's been terrific in Triple-A, and we do see him as a guy who can help out," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. "Now the question is, 'How many innings will he get?'"

    The answer will depend upon whether Armenteros keeps pitching like he has been.

Kansas City Royals: INF Raul Mondesi

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    After becoming the first player in history to make his MLB debut in the World Series in 2015, Raul Mondesi has logged 62 games with the Kansas City Royals and slashed an underwhelming .164/.213/.254.

    The 22-year-old is lighting it up at Triple-A, however, where he owns a .304 average and an .886 OPS to go along with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2017.

    He'll likely play an ancillary role in September as the Royals push for a wild-card berth, he could be in line for a starting job at second base on Opening Day 2018.

Los Angeles Angels: 1B/DH Matt Thaiss

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    This is a tough one, as the Los Angeles Angels simply don't have many highly regarded MLB-ready prospects in a very thin system.

    Matt Thaiss, the 16th overall pick in the 2016 draft, might be the closest thing after hitting .280 with eight home runs and 25 doubles between High-A and Double-A.

    There's a chance the Halos will give him some more seasoning at Triple-A, but it's also possible he impresses enough in September to stick in Anaheim for the long haul, supplanting the 37-year-old Albert Pujols.

Los Angeles Dodgers: CF Joc Pederson

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    Yes, this is sort of cheating. With 393 big league games under his belt, Joc Pederson is far from a prospect.

    The 25-year-old was demoted to the minors, however, after the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson from the New York Mets earlier this month.

    Barring an injury or significant unforeseen setback, he'll be in L.A. come September with a chance to produce.

    Granderson is only a rental. Pederson was an All-Star in 2015. The Dodgers have a history of giving second chances to struggling, talent-rich young outfielders (see: Puig, Yasiel). 

    He may not be a regular starter for Los Angeles during its inevitable playoff run, but it says here he won't be riding the bus in the minors again either.

Miami Marlins: 3B Brian Anderson

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    With Martin Prado shelved after knee surgery and Derek Dietrich not a long-term solution, the Miami Marlins should promote third baseman Brian Anderson.

    The 24-year-old has raked since his promotion to Triple-A in July, hitting .354 with a 1.043 OPS in 27 games.

    Assuming his recent concussion issues don't linger, the former Arkansas Razorback could become a big-hitting fixture in South Beach under the nascent reign of Derek Jeter and Company.

Milwaukee Brewers: INF Mauricio Dubon

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    The Milwaukee Brewers were supposed to be a rebuilding also-ran in the National League Central but have instead kept contact with the defending champion Cubs and sit just 3.5 games out of first place after play Wednesday.

    Still, the Brew Crew are keeping their eyes on the future, and that includes speedy infielder Mauricio Dubon. 

    With 2016 breakout stud Jonathan Villar hitting a scant .227 on the season, there could be innings up the middle for Dubon, who has hit .275 and stolen 38 bases between Double-A and Triple-A.

    He won't supplant slick-fielding Orlando Arcia at shortstop this season or, likely, veteran waiver-trade pickup Neil Walker at second.

    However, an impressive September stretch as the Brewers push for the postseason could set him up for MLB employment in 2018 and beyond.

Minnesota Twins: LF/CF Zack Granite

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    In addition to a rock-solid surname (sorry, not sorry), Zack Granite has proved himself in 74 games between High-A and Triple-A, slashing .339/.394/.478 with 18 stolen bases.

    He started slowly but flashed potential in a 19-game audition with the Minnesota Twins, and he could get extended at-bats during the stretch run.

    Like Milwaukee, the Twins are caught between a rebuild and surprise contention, but any young player who contributes will be given a long leash and ample opportunity for advancement. 

New York Mets: RHP Jacob Rhame

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    The suddenly rebuilding Mets have already called up top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, but keep an eye on hard-throwing right-hander Jacob Rhame.

    The player to be named later acquired from the Dodgers in the Granderson trade, Rhame boasts a fastball that can touch the high 90s, per Baseball America, and, at age 24, he could be ready to contribute to a big league bullpen.

    Relievers are notoriously mercurial creatures, and Rhame still needs to work on his off-speed offerings. A crackling heater could be enough to keep him in Queens, however, as the Mets look to the future. 

New York Yankees: RF/LF Clint Frazier

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    First, the bad news: Outfielder Clint Frazier is still battling a left oblique strain that landed him on the disabled list Aug. 10.

    The New York Yankees will undoubtedly be cautious with the 2013 No. 5 overall pick.

    At some point, though, Frazier—who posted a .751 OPS in 28 games with the Yanks—will return to the Bronx. Assuming his injury doesn't linger, that point will come in September.

    From there, the toolsy 22-year-old has the skills and opportunity to remain in pinstripes as New York charges toward the postseason and sets up its burgeoning youth movement. 

Oakland Athletics: LHP A.J. Puk

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    After sending ace Sonny Gray to the Yankees at the non-waiver trade deadline, the perpetually rebuilding Oakland Athletics should give an audition to No. 2 prospect and 2016 first-round pick A.J. Puk.

    The 22-year-old southpaw has amassed an impressive 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings across 145 MiLB innings.

    A few September appearances could be followed by a stint in Triple-A and a permanent midseason call-up in 2018.

    The small-market A's, however, aren't shy about giving gigs to youngsters, and Puk has the bat-missing stuff to stick in the East Bay.

Philadelphia Phillies: INF J.P. Crawford

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    After a slow start to 2017, No. 4 Philadelphia Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford has caught fire at Triple-A, hitting safely in 18 out of 21 August contests and notching eight multihit games. 

    The 22-year-old shortstop has also begun taking reps at third base, per Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com, increasing his versatility. 

    The Phils will no doubt give Crawford a long look in September, and he could push third baseman Maikel Franco (who's hitting a scant .224 with a .665 OPS) for playing time in 2018.

    "I was struggling," Crawford said, per Lawrence. "But I was putting the work in every day, and I knew the results were going to come."

Pittsburgh Pirates: LF Jordan Luplow

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates are unlikely to call up outfielder and top prospect Austin Meadows and are instead eyeing a stint in winter ball for the 22-year-old, per MLB.com's Adam Berry (h/t CBS Sports). 

    Keep an eye on Jordan Luplow, a lesser regarded prospect who already got a brief stint with the Bucs and is hitting .336 with a .948 OPS since a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis. 

    The Pirates' outfield depth chart is crowded, and Luplow may not be more than a bench bat. But if he flashes that kind of hitting prowess in Pittsburgh, he'll have a place on the listless Pirates roster.

San Diego Padres: RF Hunter Renfroe

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    It's been a mixed season for outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who has clubbed 20 home runs for the San Diego Padres but managed an anemic .285 on-base percentage while striking out 125 times in 111 games before a demotion to Triple-A.

    The powerful 25-year-old will be back as soon as rosters expand and this time probably for good.

    The Friars have avoided the NL West basement thanks to the San Francisco Giants' epic collapse, but this is a club in full-on rebuild mode. And Renfroe remains a key building block. 

San Francisco Giants: 1B Chris Shaw

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    On Aug. 10, Grant Brisbee of SB Nation's McCovey Chronicles made the case for why San Francisco might not call up powerful first baseman Chris Shaw, noting a possible crunch on the 40-man roster.

    First baseman Brandon Belt is now out with a concussion, however, and there's no reason for the woeful Giants to hold back one of the few promising prospects in a so-so farm system.

    Shaw has 22 homers between Double-A and Triple-A and owns a 1.018 OPS in August. With San Francisco looking to hit the reset button, the slugging 23-year-old could turn a torrid September into a full-time gig next season, with Belt either moving to the outfield or being jettisoned via trade. 

Seattle Mariners: 1B Daniel Vogelbach

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    Daniel Vogelbach has hit just .138 in 15 games with the Seattle Mariners between 2016 and 2017. The 24-year-old has crushed it at Triple-A this season, however, cracking 17 home runs and posting a .392 on-base percentage. 

    With trade acquisition Yonder Alonso set to hit free agency this winter, there could be an opening at first base. 

    The M's won't simply hand the job to Vogelbach, but he can at least solidify his status as a power bench bat with a strong finish in Seattle.

St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty

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    The St. Louis Cardinals don't need to rush Jack Flaherty, who's still just 21 years old and opened the season at Double-A.

    At the same time, the young right-hander owns a sparkling 2.13 ERA with 144 strikeouts in 143.2 innings. A September call-up isn't out of the question.

    After that, if Flaherty continues to dominate, there's a path to a permanent spot in the Cardinals' rotation with injured veteran Adam Wainwright fading and top pitching prospect Alex Reyes recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Brent Honeywell

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    Brent Honeywell's long-awaited moment is coming.

    After posting a 3.50 ERA with 167 strikeouts in 131 innings at Double-A and Triple-A, the 22-year-old screwballer has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues.

    Once he gets the call, his Tampa Bay Rays career could begin in the bullpen. His future is in the rotation, however.

    Back on July 26, Honeywell summed up his status with a tweet: "Ready as I'll ever be..."

Texas Rangers: INF/OF Willie Calhoun

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    The centerpiece of the trade that sent ace Yu Darvish to the Dodgers, Willie Calhoun has slugged 29 home runs with a .926 OPS between the Dodgers' and Texas Rangers' Triple-A affiliates. 

    His defense remains rough, but that type of pop should play well in the hitter-happy confines of Arlington.

    The 22-year-old will need to rake in September to stick for good, but with the Rangers moving toward a semi-rebuild, it's easy to imagine him having a significant role in 2018.

Toronto Blue Jays: LF/CF/RF Anthony Alford

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    Top prospects and famous baseball sons Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are a year or more away for the Toronto Blue Jays, but Anthony Alford may be ready to stake a claim in the Jays' crowded outfield.

    The 23-year-old got a call-up in May, but a broken hamate bone derailed his ascent.

    Halford, who has hit .306 with an .825 OPS between High-A and Double-A, is healthy again and primed for a September promotion. If he avoids the injury bug and flashes his skills, he could be in for a starting job next season if/when veteran right fielder Jose Bautista exits via free agency. 

Washington Nationals: INF/OF Neftali Soto

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    This is an outside-the-box suggestion, considering Neftali Soto owns an .071/.091/.095 slash line in 34 big league games, all with the Cincinnati Reds.

    The 28-year-old has developed extreme defensive versatility during his time in the minor leagues, however, and is hitting .312 with an .889 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A this season.

    With most of the Nats' top prospects, including outfielder Victor Robles, still several strides away from The Show, Soto could emerge as a late-blooming utility man.

    He certainly has the opportunity on an injury-bitten Washington squad, and, hey—stranger things have happened.


    All statistics current as of Wednesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and MLB.com unless otherwise noted.