It’s coming on September, when fans’ thoughts turn to the postseason, or next season. A look at the some of the late-season call-ups who might help with the latter. Or in some cases, the former. Last week’s rankings in parentheses:
1. N.Y. Yankees (1): The Yankees aren’t interested in young players. Unless they’re someone else’s. When the rosters expand, Yankees fans can expect boring, like catcher Austin Romine, 23, a .264 hitter with eight extra-base hits in 104 at-bats. Don’t expect bold, like 22-year-old reliever Mark Montgomery, who might be far more palatable one October evening than Derek Lowe. Or Joba. Montgomery has fanned 148 in 90.2 career minor-league innings, but has just 22 innings as high as AA.
2. Texas (2): Bryce Harper won’t be the youngest player in the major leagues for long. Rangers’ shortstop Jurickson Profar is four months younger, and almost as good. We might get a sampling in September. Profar, at 19, is hitting .280 and slugging .452 in AA, with 66 walks and 16 steals.
3. Cincinnati (3): Would a Hamilton steal as many bases by any other name? Reds AA shortstop Billy Hamilton, 21, has stolen 154 through Thursday’s games this year. Is a 200-steal season possible? Ironically, Hamilton has the same name as a 19th-century Hall of Famer, who like the 21st-century version, excelled at stealing bases. Outfielder Billy Hamilton, nicknamed Sliding Billy, stole 100 bases in four seasons and hit 111 twice. He had 914 in his career, batted .344 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1961. Both Hamiltons knew/know one key to steals: getting on base. Sliding Billy had a .455 on-base percentage; to-be-nicknamed Billy’s is .366.
4. Washington (4): After Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nats aren’t having much luck with No. 1 picks (which is like saying after Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher’s didn’t have much luck with women; after Strasburg and Harper, the Nats don’t need luck). This year’s No. 1, Lucas Giolito had Tommy John surgery — the possibility was a reason he dropped to the Nats at No. 16. And 2011 No. 1 Anthony Rendon broke his ankle in April, limiting his season to 140 plate appearances. Rendon is at AA (8-for-56) with a slim chance he could get a good seat for September.
5. Atlanta (5): No prospect has dimmed more in the last 12 months than Braves pitcher Julio Teheran. Twice he was rated No. 5 by Baseball America in its top 100 prospects list; today he’s barely in the Braves’ top five after a disappointing 2012 in AAA — 5.08 ERA, 131 innings, 146 hits, 97 strikeouts. Teheran is still only 21, and perhaps there’s an explanation — physical or otherwise — for his lousy 2012. Braves’ fans may get a closer look next month. If they want it.
6. Chicago White Sox (8): The Whte Sox have already run through a chorus line of rookie relievers — Addison Reed and Nate Jones have been constants; Hector Santiago, Leyson Septimo, Donnie Veal, Jhan Marinez and Pedro Hernandez all had turns. That’s more than Deunte Heath can say, since Heath (1.48 AAA ERA) was called up, stayed a week and never pitched.
7. Tampa Bay (6): Stephen Vogt is the Rays’ kind of player: versatile (played four positions this year, including catcher), patient (career .360 on-base percentage in the minors) and homegrown (12th-round pick in 2007). He was also 0-for-17 this spring for the Rays. Given the team’s six shutout losses in August, he’ll fit right in.
8. Pittsburgh (7): Both of the Pirates last two No. 1 picks — Jameson Taillon in 2010 and Gerrit Cole in 2011 — started the season in Class A Bradenton, but it’s clear Cole (2.71 ERA, 126 innings, 107 hits, 129 strikeouts) will be first to Pittsburgh. Cole’s next start will be in AAA, and after that, who knows? His pace is similar to David Price’s, like Cole the No. 1 pick. Taken in 2007, Price boosted the Rays to the 2008 pennant; the Pirates might need Cole just to get into the playoffs.
9. Oakland (9): Dan Straily (2.90 ERA, 146 innings, 108 hits, 181 strikeouts) made three August starts and the A’s won them all. He’ll be back soon, and so will fellow rookie A.J. Griffin, currently on rehab. Griffin had a 2.42 ERA in his eight starts, of which the A’s won six. Bartolo who?
10. St. Louis (10): Pitcher Shelby Miller didn’t deserve a call-up — until his last six starts. Miller has a 4.89 ERA in AAA, but it’s just more than 3.00 in those six. Even better, Miller has fanned 52 and walked four in his last 38.2 innings, which might put him in the Cardinal bullpen in September.
11. San Francisco (11): It’s not who the Giants are calling up, but who they’re probably not. No hard-throwing reliever Heath Hembree, whose season was curtailed by injury, and no outfielder Gary Brown, whose season was curtailed by inefficiency, Giants fans will have to settle for reliever Mitch Lively, whose career, like Prince Fielder’s talent, is not what his surname suggests.
12. Baltimore (14): The Orioles went decisive in recalling 20-year-old infielder Manny Machado from AA, where he was just .266/.352/.438; after starting 6-for-16 with three home runs in the majors, Machado is 9-for-his-last-50 with three extra-base hits. The Orioles won’t be as brazen with top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who has a 2.08 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 103.2 innings at three minor-league stops but just 16.2 innings at AA.
13. Detroit (12): Pennant races are not the time to make new friends for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who says he doesn’t want call-ups if they can’t help. “I don’t want the clubhouse getting all cluttered up,” said Leyland. If 21-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Avisail Garcia (.313 at AA) pinch-runs and plays defense for Delmon Young, does that count as clutter? Or do we need to call Extreme Clutter?
14. L.A. Dodgers (13): Most of the Dodgers’ potential call-ups — pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, infielder Ivan De Jesus, outfielder Jerry Sands — are with or are bsoon-to-be Red Sox. The Dodgers still have Alex Castellanos, hitting .338 and slugging .610 at Albuquerque but just 3-for-22 for L.A.
15. L.A. Angels (15): The Angels need pitching help — stop them before they pitch soon-to-be-40 Jason Isringhausen again in a pennant race. Lefty Nick Maronde, a third-round pick in 2011, got the call this week. He’ll skip AAA after just 99.2 innings (82 hits, 19 walks, 90 strikeouts) this year, and only 32.1 of those in AA.
16. Arizona (16): The trade of Joe Saunders to the Orioles improved two rotations — Baltimore’s, because it was so bad, and Arizona’s, because it opened a spot for former Angels No. 1 pick Tyler Skaggs (2.87 AA-AAA in 2012). Trevor Bauer, 21, who made four wild starts in June-July, could return.
17. Seattle (20): You think manager Eric Wedge would get a subconscious cramp writing shortstop Brendan Ryan’s name in the lineup card, but you’d be wrong. Brendan Ryan has straddled the .200 mark in August, spiking all the way to .202 after a three-hit night Tuesday (for the record, just one of 16 multi-hit games this year in the 114 games Ryan has played). Nick Franklin, the Mariners’ 2009 No. 1 pick, has regressed after a .322 half-season at AA, but even his .245/.311/.418 line at AAA projects to be better than Ryan’s .202/.289/.579 MLB mark. The three Seattle trademarks for 2012? Coffee, rain and Ryan outs.
18. Philadelphia (19): Last year the Phillies’ rotation was on the cover of Sports Illustrated; 16 months later it includes Tyler Cloyd. Yes, the Tyler Cloyd. He throws strikes (41 walks in 167 AA/AAA innings this year), which puts him a pitch ahead of half the staff, and he was 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA at AA/AAA this year. For the first time in a couple of years, there’ll be rotation spots to claim next spring.
19. Boston (17): Red Sox might not win AL East but they could win Jeopardy. Installing catcher Ryan Lavarnway (philosophy major at Yale) gives Sox first MLB all-Yale battery, when Craig Breslow (molecular biophysics and biochemistry) relieves, in 125 years, according to sportingnews.com. Lavarnway knows curveballs as well as Kant: he hit 32 homers last year in AA/AAA and has a .286/.376/.506 line in five minor league seasons.
20. Milwaukee (24): The Brewers acquired shortstop Jean Segura in the Zack Greinke deal, and gave him eight games in AA before calling him up. He’s not ready — just 22 years old and 13-for-his-first 63 with but one extra-base hit and three walks — but he’s better than a summer of Cesar Izturis.
21. N.Y. Mets (21): The Mets called up pitcher Matt Harvey, and what’s not to like: 42.1 innings, 30 hits, 49 strikeouts, a .462 average as a batter. They won’t call up Zack Wheeler, the return on Carlos Beltran last year, because he’s approaching his shutdown limit, according to espn.com. Anticipation sometimes makes the strikes fonder, and Wheeler — a 3.31 ERA, 144 AA/AAA innings, 113 hits allowed — together with Harvey should make Mets fans forget Bernie Madoff.
22. Toronto (18): Moises Sierra might sound like he’s the offspring of two ’90s outfielders, but the Blue Jays will be happy if he has a career like either Ruben Sierra of Puerto Rico or Moises Alou, whose father Felipe was from the Dominican Republic. Ruben had 2,152 hits, 306 home runs and 142 steals in a 20-year career; Alou had a career .303 average and 332 home runs in his 17 seasons (he lost two to injuries). Moises Sierra will have to go some — he has a career .266 average and .405 slugging percentage in seven minor-league seasons.
23. San Diego (27): The Padres are on their third platoon of pitchers, but No. 30 was 22-year-old Casey Kelly, who spun a six-inning, three-hit shutout in his debut on Monday. Kelly is the prime piece of the Adrian Gonzalez trade the Padres still have (first baseman Anthony Rizzo went to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner, one of the aforementioned 30). Kelly’s minor league career was often a riddle wrapped inside a fastball –his ERAs at AA were 5.31 in 2010 and 3.98 in 2011 –but he dominated in 2012 (37.2 innings, 39 strikeouts, 3 walks). He won’t be shut down because of innings anytime soon because he’s already missed time to a forearm injury.
24. Kansas City (25): Wil Myers’ career is starting a lot like Dale Murphy’s: minor-league catcher converted into major-league centerfielder, a five-tool talent looking at a lifetime of losing. Myers is long overdue for a call-up –he’s hit 36 homers this year, batted .306 and slugged .592. Yet the Royals, according to foxsportskansascity.com, want to get Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson “as many plate appearances as possible . . .” One question: Why?
25. Miami (22): The Marlins don’t have third baseman Matt Dominguez to call up any more, and that’s a good thing for Marlins fans. Not so much, perhaps, 21-year-old pitcher Jacob Turner, who came from the Tigers. Turner has lost both his Marlins starts and thrown three home runs in 11 innings (he has fanned 11 and walked none). After 36 innings, his major-league ERA is 7.75.
26. Cleveland (23): The Indians cut Shelley Duncan, because said Manny Acta, the at-bats in September “won’t be there for him.” (The Indians might want to explain why 232 at-bats were there for an outfielder who hit .203 and slugged .388). Bad news is those at-bats will go to 26-year-old Russ Canzler (.797 OPS at AAA) or 27-year-old Jared Goedert (.801 OPS at AAA after 1.089 in AA).
27. Minnesota (26): There’s no pitchers worthy of a mention to call up, since if there were, the Twins already would have. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, a 21-year-old from Venezuela, hit .317 and slugged .528 in A and AA.
28. Colorado (28): Who knew Vinny Castilla would be this hard to replace? Soon it will be Nolan Arenado’s chance, and he sure can’t do any worse than Ian Stewart. Arenado’s numbers at AA were ordinary — .281/.334/.424 — but he turned 21 just after Opening Day and has a .295 career average. It shouldn’t take much more to move Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson.
29. Chicago Cubs (29): Most of the best Cubs minor-leaguers — Anthony Rizzo, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson — are already major-leaguers. Infielder Adrian Cardenas should return after hitting .300 in AAA, and that’s enough to take at-bats from Darwin Barney.
30. Houston (30): The Astros are baseball’s worst team, but they have one of its best call-up stories. It took eight seasons and 3,107 plate appearances, but outfielder Brandon Barnes finally made it to the majors with a .321/.381/.449 2012 in AA and AAA. He’s just 8-for-47 so far, but on a team that’s 40-91, who’s going to notice?