Each MLB Team's 2019 September Call-Up Who'll Never Be Sent Down Again

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2019

Each MLB Team's 2019 September Call-Up Who'll Never Be Sent Down Again

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    September brought a wave of promotions around Major League Baseball as rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players for the season's final month.

    While many of the players added were fringe big leaguers who have spent the year shuttling between Triple-A and MLB, some future impact players have joined the fray as well.

    Ahead we've highlighted one September call-up from each club who will never go back to the minors but will instead fill a 2020 roster spot and beyond.

    It's a mix of top prospects, young players on the rise and veterans finally producing at a level that justifies full-time major league status.

AL East

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    T.J. Zeuch
    T.J. ZeuchKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Baltimore Orioles: RF Austin Hays

    Injuries have made Austin Hays' MLB path crooked after he rocketed through the Orioles system. A thumb setback and a hamstring strain limited him this season, as he played just 87 minor league games and posted middling numbers along the way.

    The 24-year-old has seen regular playing time in center field since he was called up, and he'll get every opportunity to win a starting job next spring. The O's have nothing to lose by giving him an extended look as they continue to rebuild.

              

    Boston Red Sox: RHP Mike Shawaryn

    Amid a subpar batch of September call-ups, Mike Shawaryn seems to have the best chance of sticking with the team.

    Behind an unsightly 7.58 ERA, he has racked up 27 strikeouts in 19 major league innings, and his ability to work multiple frames holds plenty of value on a pitching staff with lots of question marks. He also has an outside shot at staking claim to the No. 5 starter job.

                  

    New York Yankees: RHP Chance Adams

    If the Yankees were to commit to using Chance Adams as a full-time reliever, he could adjust his repertoire accordingly and become a major bullpen piece.

    Ditching his changeup (7.3% usage, .500 BAA, .250 ISO) and curveball (19.1% usage, .353 BAA, .353 ISO) in favor of simplified fastball-slider approach could work wonders.

                   

    Tampa Bay Rays: 1B Nate Lowe

    Incumbent first baseman Ji-Man Choi has put together a solid season for the Rays, posting a 115 OPS+ on the strength of an excellent .365 on-base percentage while slugging 16 home runs in 458 plate appearances.

    Still, that might not be enough to hold off Nate Lowe, who has legitimate 30-homer potential and will come cheaper than Choi, who earned $850,000 this year despite being pre-arbitration. With the designated hitter spot also in play, there's a scenario where both left-handed sluggers find their way into the 2020 lineup.

                   

    Toronto Blue Jays: RHP T.J. Zeuch

    The Blue Jays have a pair of 2016 first-round picks in T.J. Zeuch (No. 21 overall) and Anthony Kay (No. 31 overall) filling rotation spots after the duo earned September call-ups.

    It makes sense Zeuch would be the more MLB-ready of the two after Kay missed time early in his pro career while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Both pitchers could be key members of the 2020 rotation, but Zeuch appears to have the better shot of earning an Opening Day nod.

AL Central

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    Christin Stewart
    Christin StewartThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Chicago White Sox: IF Danny Mendick

    The biggest name among White Sox call-ups was 2016 first-round pick Zack Collins. While he's homered in back-to-back games, he's hitting just .138 with a 38.5 percent strikeout rate in 78 MLB plate appearances.

    Instead, we'll go with utility infielder Danny Mendick, who hit .279/.368/.444 with 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 19 steals at Triple-A before his promotion. With Yolmer Sanchez looking like a non-tender candidate, Mendick has a path to a 2020 roster spot.

                        

    Cleveland Indians: RHP James Karinchak

    James Karinchak struck out 59.2 percent of the batters he faced over three minor league levels this season, racking up 74 punchouts in just 30.1 innings. He also walked 17 batters for a 5.0 BB/9 walk rate, but the swing-and-miss stuff is tough to ignore.

    He struck out three hitters in 1.1 perfect innings in his MLB debut, and his upper-90s fastball and hammer curveball pairing is already plus-plus. If he shows the requisite command next spring, it will be tough to leave him off the roster.

               

    Detroit Tigers: LF Christin Stewart

    A potential breakout candidate heading into 2019 after posting a 115 OPS+ with two home runs and 10 RBI in 17 games as a September call-up last year, Christin Stewart instead scuffled in his first extended MLB action.

    The 25-year-old was hitting .238/.320/.392 with seven home runs in 328 plate appearances when he was optioned to the minors at the end of July. He's returned with a vengeance, hitting .286 with an .851 OPS and three home runs in 53 trips to the plate in September. The everyday left field job should be his to lose next spring.

                

    Kansas City Royals: 1B/OF Ryan McBroom

    The Royals acquired Ryan McBroom from the Yankees on Aug. 31 for international bonus money and a player to be named or cash. He was hitting .315/.402/.574 with 29 doubles and 26 home runs for New York's Triple-A affiliate at the time of the trade.

    The 27-year-old has seen regular time in right field since joining the Royals' active roster. They clearly saw something they liked to deal for him, and he should get a long look next spring along with Bubba Starling, Brett Phillips, Jorge Bonifacio and others.

                 

    Minnesota Twins: RHP Brusdar Graterol

    One of baseball's top pitching prospects, Brusdar Graterol has been used out of the bullpen since he joined the Twins roster, making six appearances in the heat of a playoff race.

    The 21-year-old may be working as a reliever now, but the hope is he will eventually join Jose Berrios atop the starting rotation. He has the durable frame and electric stuff to live up to lofty expectations. With Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda all headed for free agency, there will be multiple rotation spots to fill.

AL West

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    Kyle Lewis
    Kyle LewisAbbie Parr/Getty Images

    Houston Astros: RF Kyle Tucker

    After struggling in limited MLB action last season, Kyle Tucker spent 2019 at Triple-A before he earned a September call-up. He's making the most of his opportunity this time:

    • 2018: 72 PA, 24 OPS+, .141/.236/.203, 3 XBH (0 HR), -0.9 WAR
    • 2019: 46 PA, 112 OPS+, .295/.326/.500, 5 XBH (2 HR), 0.6 WAR

    Even with Michael Brantley, George Springer and Josh Reddick all coming back in 2020 and Yordan Alvarez locked into the DH role, the Astros will find a way to get Tucker's bat into the lineup.

              

    Los Angeles Angels: 1B/RP Jared Walsh

    A 39th-round pick in 2015, Jared Walsh began working as a two-way player last season, and he's shown enough this year to get looks at the plate and on the mound in the majors.

    He hit .325/.423/.686 with 36 home runs at Triple-A while also posting a 4.15 ERA in 13 relief appearances. In sporadic MLB action this year, he's gone 12-for-60 with four doubles and one home run and logged a 1.80 ERA in five appearances. The roster flexibility he creates will be enough to earn him a long look.

         

    Oakland Athletics: C Sean Murphy

    Health has been the only thing holding back Sean Murphy from seizing Oakland's starting catcher job, and now that he's getting his chance, the 24-year-old is making the most of it.

    While a torn left meniscus limited him to 41 games in the minors this season, he returned in time to earn a call-up. He's seen action in 12 games, hitting .353/.389/.853 with five doubles and four home runs. Expect to see his name in the 2020 Opening Day lineup.

             

    Seattle Mariners: RF Kyle Lewis

    Slugger Kyle Lewis has had disappointing numbers since going No. 11 overall in the 2016 draft, due in large part to a wide variety of injuries. He posted a .741 OPS with 25 doubles and 11 home runs in 122 games at Double-A before jumping to the majors this September.

    The 24-year-old has gone 10-for-34 with five home runs since his September promotion, and he should have a shot to join Mallex Smith and Mitch Haniger in the starting outfield next year.

              

    Texas Rangers: 1B Ronald Guzman

    Ronald Guzman served as the Rangers' primary first baseman as a rookie in 2018 but struggled to a .193/.282/.396 line with eight home runs in 227 plate appearances before being demoted to the minors in late July this season.

    After hitting well in Triple-A, he returned earlier this month and is batting .324/.419/.568 with three doubles and two home runs in 43 September plate appearances. The 24-year-old should get the initial crack at the first base gig again in 2020.

NL East

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    Cole Irvin
    Cole IrvinNuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    Atlanta Braves: RHP Bryse Wilson

    While fellow September call-ups Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint both have higher ceilings than Bryse Wilson, they also have more to iron out in the minors.

    Wilson, 21, has a 3.71 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with an excellent 146-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 143 innings at Triple-A the past two seasons. He's essentially a finished product and is more floor than ceiling, so even if he doesn't win a rotation spot during spring training, a bullpen role makes sense.

               

    Miami Marlins: LHP Brian Moran

    Lefty reliever Brian Moran racked up 77 strikeouts in 60 innings at Triple-A while holding left-handed batters to an .097 average with a 41.8 percent strikeout rate.

    The 30-year-old has been effective since memorably striking out his brother, infielder Colin Moran, in the pitcher's MLB debut. At the very least, his effectiveness against same-sided hitters should be enough to earn him a specialist role in 2020.

          

    New York Mets: LHP Daniel Zamora

    With veteran Luis Avilan headed for free agency, the Mets will be looking for a second left-handed reliever to join Justin Wilson in the bullpen next year. Daniel Zamora could be that guy.

    The 26-year-old posted a respectable 4.20 ERA with a 36-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 innings at Triple-A this year, and he has a 4.24 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 17 MLB innings the past two seasons.

                

    Philadelphia Phillies: LHP Cole Irvin

    Left-hander Cole Irvin has little left to prove in the minors after he posted a 3.07 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 255 Triple-A innings the past two seasons.

    After struggling to a 7.98 ERA in multiple brief MLB stints earlier this year, he has returned this September in a multi-inning relief role and racked up 7.1 scoreless frames over five appearances. The 25-year-old looks ready to carve out a bullpen role if the organization is ready to commit to using him as a full-time reliever.

               

    Washington Nationals: OF Andrew Stevenson

    A standout defensive outfielder with plus speed, Andrew Stevenson has the prototypical fourth outfielder profile.

    The Nationals could non-tender Michael A. Taylor this offseason ahead of his final year of arbitration. He has a 38 OPS+ and minus-0.4 WAR and is making $3.25 million this season. If they cut ties, Stevenson would be the leading candidate to win a bench role behind Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton.

NL Central

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    Nico Hoerner
    Nico HoernerNuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    Chicago Cubs: SS Nico Hoerner

    With Javier Baez (thumb) and Addison Russell (concussion) both sidelined, the Cubs called on 2018 first-round pick Nico Hoerner to fill a sudden void at shortstop in the middle of a playoff push.

    Despite not playing above Double-A before his call-up in his first full pro season, the 22-year-old has stepped right into the thick of things and hit .317/.364/.512 with one triple and two home runs in 10 games. That could be enough to position him for a run at the everyday second base job in 2020.

              

    Cincinnati Reds: RHP Keury Mella

    Keury Mella will be out of options next season, so the Reds will have a decision to make regarding a live-armed pitcher whose results have never quite matched his stuff.

    The 26-year-old has a 65-grade fastball that touches 97 mph, and his changeup and slider both flash above-average potential, so there's clear upside in his arm. With a strong spring, he could earn a multi-inning bullpen role.

                 

    Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Jake Faria

    The Brewers acquired Jake Faria from the Rays for Jesus Aguilar at the trade deadline, and he will be out of options next spring, so he'll need to be included on the Opening Day roster or likely be lost to waivers.

    He posted a 3.43 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 84 strikeouts in 86.2 innings as a rookie in 2017, and that potential remains for a Brewers team that continues to search for long-term answers in the starting rotation. Unless he gets shelled next spring, expect to see him on the 25-man roster to start the year.

                      

    Pittsburgh Pirates: IF/OF Kevin Kramer

    At 25 years old and with two full Triple-A seasons under his belt, Kevin Kramer is a finished product for the Pirates.

    While the team will likely go with a middle infield of Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman again to start next season, Kramer has the versatility to be a valuable bench contributor in a utility role. He added the corner outfield spots to his repertoire this season to go along with second base, shortstop and third base.

              

    St. Louis Cardinals: C Andrew Knizner

    Veteran Matt Wieters has proved to be a solid pickup for the Cardinals on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, slugging 11 home runs in 60 games and tallying 0.7 WAR.

    That said, it might be time to see what catcher of the future Andrew Knizner can do in the bigs after he posted an .821 OPS with 12 home runs in 66 games at Triple-A. Learning alongside Yadier Molina while serving as his backup could be the best way to further Knizner's development.

NL West

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    Gavin Lux
    Gavin LuxMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Jimmie Sherfy

    Jimmie Sherfy has seen time at Triple-A in each of the past four seasons, posting a 3.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 195 strikeouts in 152.1 innings.

    The 27-year-old has also enjoyed success in limited MLB action the past three seasons with a 2.61 ERA and 8.9 K/9 in 38 appearances. He'll be out of options next spring, and the D-backs bullpen is full of question marks beyond Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin and Yoan Lopez.

                     

    Colorado Rockies: RHP Jeff Hoffman

    Jeff Hoffman has quite the pedigree. He was the No. 9 pick in the 2014 draft, the centerpiece of the blockbuster deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado to Toronto, and the No. 36 prospect in baseball heading into the 2017 season, per Baseball America.

    Unfortunately, he has yet to find MLB success, as he's posted a 6.13 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 201 innings over the past four years. The 26-year-old is out of options next season, and the pitching-starved Rockies might not be ready to pull the plug.

                 

    Los Angeles Dodgers: 2B Gavin Lux

    After a breakout 2018, Gavin Lux took his game to another level in 2019 by hitting an impressive .347/.421/.607 with 59 extra-base hits in 113 games in Double-A and Triple-A.

    The 21-year-old has posted a .793 OPS with three doubles and two home runs in 14 games since being promoted and appears to be playing his way onto the postseason roster. The everyday second base job will likely be his to lose going into next season, and he'll be among the NL Rookie of the Year favorites.

               

    San Diego Padres: RHP David Bednar

    Taken in the 35th round of the 2016 draft, right-hander David Bednar turned in a dominant season at Double-A with a 2.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 58 innings while recording 14 saves.

    He hasn't missed a beat since joining the big league bullpen, posting a 2.45 ERA and 0.82 WHIP with 13.5 K/9 and two holds in nine appearances. The 24-year-old looks ready to step into a high-leverage role ahead of closer Kirby Yates in 2020.

                

    San Francisco Giants: RHP Burch Smith

    Second baseman Mauricio Dubon was called up by the Giants on Aug. 29, so he doesn't qualify here, otherwise he would have been the obvious pick, as he's seemingly staked claim to an everyday gig for 2020.

    Right-hander Burch Smith is making a case to be part of the 2020 bullpen. The 29-year-old posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 103 strikeouts in 92.1 Triple-A innings, and he has yet to allow an earned run in six appearances since being promoted.

                    

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.