MLB September Callups Preview: American League Names To Know In 2019
This is the final year of September callups as we know them. Next year, teams will be limited to 28 players after Sept. 1, so most teams will add a catcher and a couple of additional arms. This year, teams can still bring up anyone on the 40-man roster, so expect to see 13-man bullpens and deep benches.
But September’s roster expansion has already changed from what it used to be. Nowadays, concerns about starting player's service time clocks prematurely often outweigh the desire to reward players for strong minor league seasons. Also, with 40-man rosters usually quite crowded, most teams generally use the roster expansion to bring back players who have already been up-and-down on the Triple-A-to-MLB shuttle.
With that in mind, here’s our preview of who we could (and likely won’t) see come up in September. In most cases, we’re predicting more players than will actually be brought up to cover a range of possibilities.
*Click each team to go directly to that team's 2019 outlook.
The Orioles are in the midst of a rebuilding stage, and they have turned their focus to drafting and developing premier talent to infuse with the big league club down the road. Their 40-man roster is full, but since it's a low-pressure environment, a handful of young players should get a chance to show what they can do in limited action during the month of September.
Hunter Harvey, RHP—The Orioles have already brought Harvey to the big leagues. This September gives them a chance to evaluate how well the oft-injured righthander fits as a future bullpen piece.
Tayler Scott RHP—A waiver-wire claim from Seattle, Scott has been battered in three separate major league stints this year. It makes sense to see him again this September, as he will be pitching to remain on the 40-man roster.
Ryan Mountcastle, 1B—Mountcastle just earned International League MVP honors. Working against him getting a call up is his still-developing defense at first base and the fact he's not yet on the 40-man roster. Working for him is the fact that the Orioles will assuredly be adding him to the 40-man roster this offseason.
Austin Hays, OF—Hays hasn't been in the big leagues since 2017 and has dealt with injuries this season, but he could see at-bats or the occasional start since he is on the 40-man roster.
Austin Wynns, C—Wynns could see time as a backup catcher since he is already on the 40-man roster.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are entering September on the fringes of the periphery of the wild card race. They're still within striking distance of the second wild card spot, and the team that won it all last year has at least some reasons to add reinforcements to try to make one last playoff push.
Trevor Kelley RHP—Kelley has been excellent in Triple-A Pawtucket's bullpen. He's only gotten the briefest of big league tastes so far this season, but the submariner's fastball-breaking ball combo fits logically as an extra arm in September and as someone who may play a larger role next year.
Mike Shawaryn, RHP—Shawaryn already came up for a May stint with the big league club. He should get low-leverage innings out of the bullpen come September.
Denyi Reyes, RHP—With lefthander Chris Sale out of action for the rest of the season, Reyes makes sense to fill in and help out the rotation at the back end. He is on the 40-man roster and makes sense as a potential fill-in starter.
New York Yankees
The Yankees have been in first place for much of the season and have overcome plenty of injury issues along the way. They have made some crafty pickups of veterans, such as infielder Gio Urshela, and they have a few pieces that could play a role for them on the 40-man roster come September. A handful of those options are on the mound, whereas their depth is thin on the position side of things.
Adonis Rosa, RHP—Rosa should get innings as a swingman whose control was good this season with Triple-A Scranton (1.93 walks per nine innings). With questions surrounding their starting staff and a healthy lead in the AL East, it makes sense that he could soak up innings at the back end of the rotation.
Deivi Garcia, RHP—Garcia is the Yankees' top prospect and has pitched well in the upper minors, but a lack of space on the 40-man roster mean it's unlikely he'll be pitching in New York this September.
Albert Abreu, RHP—Abreu is on the 40-man roster, but his shaky control numbers would probably hold him back from getting a shot at this point.
Tampa Bay Rays
While the Yankees are running away with the AL East, Tampa Bay keeps jockeying for position with the Indians for the first wild card spot. Their club relies on the strength of their farm system, which has continued to produce and remains one of the best in the game. Several prospects have made an impact for them already, but with a full 40-man roster and a loaded system, the Rays will likely limit their moves to players who have already seen Tampa Bay this season.
Nate Lowe, 1B—Lowe will get more at-bats at first base and designated hitter, where he can provide solid at-bats and some pop.
Kevin Padlo, 3B—He isn't on the 40-man, but Padlo will likely be added this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, so there's at least a glimmer of hope he could be added early. Most likely, his first taste of Tampa will come next season.
Michael Perez, C—Perez is on the 40-man and should give the Rays additional flexibility as a backup catcher.
Brendan McKay, LHP—McKay is currently on the International League injury list (the IL's IL) with shoulder fatigue, but the Rays say it's very minor. He could still earn a couple of starts for an injury-depleted Rays rotation this September.
Cole Sulser, RHP—Sulser has missed plenty of bats in the upper minors but isn't on the 40-man roster. He could be called up in an emergency if the Rays need another arm to bolster the bullpen—and if the Rays can find room on a crowded 40-man.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays are in a transitional phase, as they have already called up top prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. September should be a time of further evaluation for the club, as they look to see what pieces should stick around for the upcoming season. Even so, don't expect them to add any of their prospects to their already full 40-man roster.
Nate Pearson, RHP—There is no incentive for the Jays to add Pearson to the 40-man roster, and he has already thrown 96.2 innings this season, which far surpasses his previous career high (20 innings in 2017).
Patrick Murphy, RHP—Murphy is on the 40-man roster, but he hasn't had a great season at Double-A New Hampshire and he's just gotten back into game action after an IL stint with shoulder inflammation.
Hector Perez, RHP—Perez would provide similar value to Murphy in the rotation, but service time questions and lack of time spent in the upper minors could hold both of them back.
Yennsy Diaz, RHP—Diaz is already on the 40-man roster, and his upper-90s fastball and two breaking pitches would make for a useful arm out of the bullpen.
Anthony Alford, OF—Alford should get some at-bats in the outfield after seeing big league time in 2017 and 2018. At this point, a September callup gives Alford a shot to prove he's worthy of keeping a spot on the 40-man roster.
Jonathan Davis, OF—Davis has already had some at-bats this season and should get plenty more down the stretch in September. Again, this is more of a potential audition for a spot in the Jays' 2020 outfield.
Elvis Luciano, RHP—Luciano is currently on a well-timed 60-day IL stint. As a Rule 5 pick, Luciano needs to spend another two weeks on the active roster to meet Rule 5 roster requirements, so it makes sense to make sure he spends at least part of September on the active roster.
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Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have built up an impressive farm system over the past few seasons thanks in part to the maturation of outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. They will continue to give at-bats to younger players while seeing which pitchers fit best for their rotation and bullpen. They also have one spot to play with on their 40-man roster should they choose to add someone.
Luis Robert, OF—The most interesting September call-up decision of all is Robert. The White Sox say they have made no decision yet on whether to bring him up or not, and the fact that Charlotte is battling for a playoff spot in the International League can extend the decision even further. Robert has done everything possible in the minors to earn a call up, and if this was 1989, he likely would be joining the club soon. But since he's not on the 40-man roster and doesn't need to be added this offseason, it's unlikely the White Sox will start his service clock early. Eloy Jimenez was in a similar situation last year and was not called up.
Ian Hamilton, RHP—Hamilton's plus fastball and slider could make for a nice late-inning weapon.
Zach Thompson, RHP—He isn't on the 40-man roster, but his fastball-cutter combo could make him enticing out of the bullpen should Chicago need another arm.
Luis Basabe, OF—Basabe should see time in center field, where he fits defensively although his bat leaves something to be desired.
Zack Collins, C—Collins is a bat-first backstop and is on the 40-man roster, so he makes sense to bring up as a third catcher.
Seby Zavala, C—Zavala provides more defensive value than Collins, so the White Sox could bring him up as well.
Cleveland is part of one of the few remaining interesting division races as September begins, so it should be all hands on deck for the Indians. The 40-man roster is full and Cleveland already has seven players on the 60-day IL as well, so anyone not on the 40-man already is facing long odds for a September callup.
Logan Allen, LHP—Allen should continue to get starts at the back end of the rotation, where he can turn into a quality starter for the foreseeable future.
Sam Hentges, LHP—Hentges can handle a rotation workload, but his plus curveball might be best suited out of the bullpen for Cleveland. He is on the 40-man roster so its possible he could get a shot.
Josh D. Smith, LHP—Smith had some control issues with Triple-A Columbus, but the lefthander did miss plenty of bats and his spot on the 40-man could help him get some time out of the bullpen.
Jordan Stephens, RHP—He has a four-pitch mix and gets outs with solid control, but shorter stints might help his stuff to play up in the bullpen.
Andrew Velazquez, INF—Velazquez's defensive versatility and speed would seem to make him the perfect September addition, but he's currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, so he won't be added unless he makes a very speedy recovery.
Bobby Bradley, 1B—Already on the 40-man roster, Bradley's power can be a useful addition.
Eric Haase, C—Haase is already on the 40-man roster, so he's an obvious addition since he would give the Indians the flexibility of having three catchers on the active roster.
The Tigers are battling for the worst record in baseball, so the only decisions the Tigers face is who do they want to get additional MLB acclimation time. Their 40-man roster is full, so the best of the Tigers' prospects are likely to sit at home this September.
Christin Stewart, OF—Stewart likely will be added to the roster as he comes off the IL (concussion).
Eduardo Jimenez, RHP—Jimenez hasn't performed well out of the bullpen but should continue to get low-leverage innings regardless after a nice season at Triple-A.
Tyler Alexander, LHP—Alexander hasn't had success in the rotation, but his fastball-slider combo could get low-leverage spots out of the bullpen.
John Schreiber, RHP—Schreiber is on the 40-man roster and showed solid control with the ability to miss bats in the upper minors, which should be good enough to see some relief work.
Grayson Greiner, C—Greiner was just activated off the 60-day IL (back injury). He's an obvious choice to give Detroit a third catcher.
Sergio Alcantara, SS—Alcantara is a plus defender up the middle but is a light hitter. He is on the 40-man roster and could see some time off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Dustin Peterson, OF—Peterson is on the 40-man and could see outfield time if there is an emergency at the big league level.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals are also in a rebuilding mode, so there isn't much urgency to call up any prospects. Kansas City's main talent is in the lower minors, but a handful of players should get a big league callup come September. They also have four spots available on the 40-man roster should they choose to add any players, even though it doesn't make sense to lose service time during this stage of their rebuild.
Conner Greene, RHP—Greene hasn't had much success in the upper minors, but he is on the 40-man so he could see some innings in September.
Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP—Hernandez is in a similar position to that of Greene and could see a few innings.
Richard Lovelady, LHP—Lovelady has been excellent for Triple-A Omaha and not nearly as good in some stints in Kansas City this season. However, it makes sense to give him some further time as he prepares to compete for a spot in the Royals' 2020 bullpen.
Kelvin Gutierrez, INF—Gutierrez is on the 40-man roster and has played a solid third base but his power needs to come around more. If he gets some time in September and performs, it would bode well for his future as a Royal.
The Twins surprised many by their surge to the top of the AL Central, but they will need to continue to fight off the Indians coming down the stretch in September. They have a few interesting arms who could see time in September and also have a spot available on the 40-man roster.
Sean Poppen, RHP—Poppen is on the 40-man, so he is an option to get some middle relief innings.
Devin Smeltzer, LHP—Smeltzer has worked out of the rotation and in the bullpen with some success, which should provide Minnesota with a viable swingman option.
Nick Gordon, INF—Gordon is the most obvious choice to add some depth to the Twins' bench after a solid bounceback season at Triple-A Rochester.
The Astros have built a comfortable lead in the AL West. Their farm system is still one of the best in baseball, and they should call up a few players who can take on some playing time while veterans rest before the postseason begins.
Kyle Tucker, OF—Tucker was passed by Yordan Alvarez this season and Alvarez proceeded to be the most productive rookie in the AL. That is why Tucker is having to wait until September to get back to Houston.
Rogelio Armenteros, RHP—Armenteros will continue to see action in the rotation and bullpen as a useful swingman option.
Bryan Abreu, RHP—Abreu is already on the full 40-man roster for Houston, and his fastball-slider combo could be impactful late in games.
Jose Urquidy, RHP—Urquidy could see some more starts and soak up innings at the back of the rotation.
Abraham Toro, 3B—Toro is already up to get some spot starts and provide an advanced hit tool off the bench.
Jack Mayfield, INF—Mayfield should get some looks up the middle and off the bench if Houston wants to give more veterans a rest.
Garrett Stubbs, C—Stubbs should be back up to give Houston a third catcher.
Myles Straw, SS/OF—Straw has been up and down this year. He's the perfect kind of September addition as his speed and defensive versatility gives him multiple ways to help the team.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels sit in fourth place at the moment, but they have a few pieces already on the 40-man roster that could see action in September. They also have one spot available on their 40-man roster if they choose to add someone.
Luis Madero, RHP—Madero has a three-pitch mix and repeatable delivery which could make him a back-end starter for Los Angeles. He has been solid for Double-A Mobile, and some major league starts down the stretch make sense.
Jose Rodriguez, RHP—Rodriguez is also on the 40-man roster and could see more time out of the bullpen in low-leverage situations.
Jared Walsh, OF/LHP—Walsh has some pop to all fields and could see some at-bats while manning either corner outfield positions or serving as a designated hitter. He could also fill some low-leverage innings out of the bullpen.
Michael Hermosillo, OF—Hermosillo is on the 40-man roster, and his athleticism combined with plus speed could give the Angels a nice weapon on the base paths.
Jose Rojas, 3B—Rojas isn't on the 40-man roster, but could be a surprise callup that would provide versatility on the infield while taking sound at-bats.
While Oakland sits firmly in second place in the AL West, they are still fighting for a spot in the AL wild card picture. The Athletics could receive a serious boost on the pitching end of things come September.
A.J Puk, LHP—Puk could have a serious impact in September for Oakland. He got a head start as Oakland brought him up in August. His elite fastball-breaking ball combo with good angle could provide a relief ace for the Athletics coming down the stretch.
Grant Holmes, RHP—Holmes makes sense as a swingman who could eat some September innings. He's already on the 40-man roster.
Jorge Mateo, SS—Mateo's speed and defensive versatility make him a logical callup since he's already on the 40-man roster.
Sean Murphy, C—Murphy has value on both sides of the ball. He's not currently on the 40-man roster, but he will need to be added this offseason anyway. Oakland doesn't currently have a third catcher on the 40-man roster. Murphy is the most logical option to fill that September need.
The Mariners are in the midst of a transitional phase and should give time to some younger players in September, like they already have with Jake Fraley, who was called up in late August.
Zac Grotz, RHP—Grotz will get some innings out of the bullpen, as he has shown good control this season in the upper minors.
Ricardo Sanchez, LHP—Sanchez is on the 40-man roster and could make an appearance as a spot starter if they need an arm to soak up innings.
Aaron Northcraft, RHP—Northcraft isn't on the 40-man roster but could make some appearances if Seattle needs another arm.
Shed Long, 2B—Long should get more playing time on the infield, where his bat could be a serious plus.
The Rangers are rebuilding, they have a full 40-man roster and they don't have many close-to-the-majors prospects who need MLB experience, so it will likely be a pretty modest group of players who are called up this September.
Ian Gibaut, RHP—A recent pickup from the Rays, Gibaut has already appeared in a few games this season and should see some innings out of the bullpen.
Pedro Payano, RHP—Payano's control has been concerning at the big league level, but he should get more opportunities in the final weeks of the season.
Joe Palumbo, LHP—Palumbo hasn't fared well this year in the big leagues but should see some low-leverage spots in September.
Locke St. John, LHP—The lefthander could get a few innings as a middle-inning reliever.
Phillips Valdez, RHP—Another 40-man option from the right side, Valdez has put up decent numbers in the big league bullpen in limited action.