MLB September Callups Preview: National 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 players 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.
Atlanta is sitting atop the National League East and could take a couple of different routes come September in order to bolster their roster. Newly acquired bullpen arms Shane Greene and Chris Martin got off to shaky starts with their new team but have pitched better as of late. Still, the Braves have some available pitchers on their 40-man roster that could provide relief help down the stretch.
Bryse Wilson, RHP—While Wilson's curveball isn't great, his double-plus fastball and ability to manipulate its movement would be beneficial in short stints. It's quite likely that he gets some time in September seeing as he has already appeared and is on the 40-man roster.
Kyle Wright, RHP—While he has given up over one hit per inning in the big leagues, Wright's plus fastball-breaking ball combo might play up out of the bullpen and serve as a useful late-inning weapon. He's been more effective since returning to the minors in late July.
Ian Anderson, RHP—It's unlikely that the Braves will add Anderson. He just reached Triple-A and he isn't on the 40-man roster. But he is the Braves best pitching prospect still in the minors, and if Atlanta needs a fill-in starter, he could get a call.
Cristian Pache, OF—Pache is Atlanta's top prospect and brings a strong defensive pedigree and improved hit tool to the table. His defense would be a shot in the arm for the Braves, but it doesn't make sense to start his player clock considering that they have a comfortable lead in the NL East and he isn't on the 40-man roster.
In the midst of a rebuilding campaign, Miami has shifted their focus to player development in an effort to re-tool their organization from top to bottom. Even so, this is an optimal time for the Marlins to take a look at some of their talented youngsters in an effort to see who will be a part of Miami's core down the road.
Nick Neidert, RHP—Neidert mixes his offerings well and pounds the strike zone, but he isn't on the 40-man roster. Even so, it might be worth it for Miami to make room for him to see what he can do down the stretch as he will need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason anyway.
Robert Dugger, RHP—Dugger didn't fare well in one start with the Marlins, but his ability to throw two different fastballs and three breaking pitches may get him some time at the back end of the rotation. He is on the 40-man roster, which makes this an easier call.
Joe Gunkel, RHP—Gunkel is a sinker-slider pitcher who yields ground balls, but the lack of space on the 40-man roster is what will hurt him this September.
Monte Harrison, OF—Harrison is already on the 40-man roster, but he has had two stints on the injured list and may not get called up due to his lack of at-bats in the upper minors.
Jesus Sanchez, OF—Brought over at the trade deadline from Tampa Bay, Sanchez's plus power could fit nicely in the corner for Miami. He is already on the 40-man, but service time would hold him back from getting called up.
New York Mets
As the Mets continue their quest for a wild card spot, look for the club to turn to two pitchers who got the call earlier this season. Outside of their 40-man roster, which has one spot open, the Mets lack prospect depth at the upper levels to fill in any voids. Much of their talent resides in the lower minors, so it's unreasonable to think that any of those players will get a call late in the season.
Walker Lockett, RHP—Lockett identifies more as a swingman with a four-pitch mix that is highlighted by an above-average changeup and should see more action come September.
Daniel Zamora, LHP—Zamora is already on the 40-man roster and could be a useful left-on-left guy with a plus slider that he throws from a lower arm slot.
Ryley Gilliam, RHP—With the Mets in win-now mode, Gilliam could get called up to see if his fastball-breaking ball combo works. His performance at Triple-A Syracuse has left much to be desired, which hurts his chances overall. He's allowed 19 hits in 9.1 innings.
Sam Haggerty, 2B/OF—Haggerty had a productive season at Double-A Binghamton and has defensive versatility. He's not currently on the 40-man roster, but he will be Rule 5 eligible if left unprotected this offseason, which could provide an impetus to bring him up. He could provide a versatile presence with speed and contact ability in September.
Philadelphia is still in the thick of things in the wild card race, and they have withstood plenty of injuries along the way. In addition to righthanders David Robertson and Pat Neshek gone for the long term, as well as their closer Seranthony Dominguez, the Phillies also have to figure out some rotation answers with Jake Arrieta slated for season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. The Phillies' farm system have a few arms at the upper levels who can fill out a bullpen, but there aren't many that would be able to impact a pennant race. Their 40-man roster is full, and a handful of players may get a look in September.
Damon Jones, LHP—Jones would bring a lively fastball and quality breaking ball to the bullpen, but he isn't on the 40-man roster so it would be a tight squeeze to fit him in.
Connor Brogdon, RHP—Brogdon isn't on the 40-man either, which hurts his chances, but his quality heater and good control numbers may add value should Philadelphia need another righthanded arm.
Cole Irvin, RHP—The easiest option is Irvin, who is already on the 40-man and whose feel for pitching and solid four-pitch mix could add rotation value.
Deivy Grullon, C—Grullon has hit well for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but it isn't likely that he takes any at-bats away from J.T. Realmuto down the stretch. Still, the Phillies only have two catchers on the 40-man roster and most teams like to carry a third during September.
Washington played below-500 ball the first two full months of the season but have since come on strong in June, July and August. Recently, the Nationals have had to sustain injuries to their pitching staff, most notable to ace Max Scherzer and closer Sean Doolittle, as well as newcomer Roenis Elias. Their 40-man roster has no space left, so there's unlikely to be many or any additions who aren't already on the 40-man.
James Bourque, RHP—Bourque could be a power-type arm with an effective curveball out of the bullpen. He hasn't pitched well in the Pacific Coast League, but he has missed some bats and would make sense as a fill-in.
Ben Braymer, LHP—Braymer is a hard thrower who could step in and take the place of Roenis Elias for a period of time. He works hitters with a mid-90s fastball and plus slider. He is also on the 40-man roster like Bourque, which makes the move a bit easier for roster-management purposes.
Wil Crowe, RHP—Crowe won't blow hitters away with his stuff, but he could make for an effective back-end starter who could eat some innings down the stretch. He knows how to attack hitters and works effectively with a four-pitch mix.
Kyle McGowin, RHP—Already on the 40-man roster, McGowin could get another shot in the big leagues in low-leverage situations after a rough 13 inning stint earlier this season.
Carter Kieboom, SS—Kieboom is the Nationals top prospect, and they obviously want to win now. He won't take away any at-bats from infielder Trea Turner, and veteran Asdrubal Cabrera has been holding down second base, but Keiboom could provide a useful bench bat and glove.
Andrew Stevenson, OF—Stevenson is already on the 40-man roster, so bringing him back up to use his speed and serve as a pinch-hitter provides an additional option for manager Dave Martinez.
Michael A. Taylor, OF—Like Stevenson, Taylor's glove and legs could fill a useful role in September as the Nationals make their playoff push.
World Series Game 4 Notebook: Snitker, Braves Want To Re-Emphasize Starting Pitching
Before the first of back-to-back bullpen games in the World Series, Braves manager Brian Snitker said he'd like to see teams refocus on developing starting pitchers in the minor leagues.
Chicago finds themselves in the middle of a tight, three-team NL Central race coming down the stretch, and they are battling for a wild card spot as well. While their farm system is thin at the moment, there are a couple of pieces that could add value for Chicago.
Adbert Alzolay, RHP—Alzolay has the chance to be the most impactful arm for the Cubs in September. He is already on the 40-man roster, and his three-pitch mix makes sense for a low-leverage bullpen role or as a fill-in starter.
Robel Garcia, 2B—Garcia should be back in Chicago this September to fill a backup role, where his versatile glove could provide some fill-in help.
Justin Steele, LHP—He is on the 40-man roster which helps, but he has performed poorly at Double-A Tennessee. If the Cubs feel they want another lefty in the bullpen, Steele would make some sense as a left-on-left guy with a solid fastball and tilt on his breaking pitch.
Mark Zagunis, OF—Zagunis, who is already on the 40-man roster, makes the most sense to get called up as a backup outfielder who can provide some quality at-bats off the bench.
Cincinnati enters September on the very fringes of the wild card race.
Jimmy Herget, RHP—Herget should get a brief look as he has been quality against righthanded hitters this season and is on the 40-man roster.
Keury Mella, RHP—Mella can work as both a starter and reliever, so he should be able to take over in a swingman capacity. The Reds will want to evaluate what they have with Mella in order to see if he can fill in for the rotation in 2020.
Jose Siri, OF—While he has struggled with Triple-A Louisville, he would provide an athletic presence off the bench who would fill in on defense. His awful offensive numbers with the Bats (.165/.245/.224) argue against bringing him to Cincinnati.
Brian O'Grady, OF—O'Grady has hit 27 homers for Triple-A Louisville and should get some at-bats off the bench since he is already on the 40-man roster.
Milwaukee finds itself sitting right on the edge of the wild card race but still just a few games out of first place in their own division. The arms that Milwaukee has available on their 40-man roster have performed poorly in the upper minors. In addition, their 40-man has no spots currently available to add anyone.
Trey Supak, RHP—Supak has been hit hard in Triple-A after pitching well for Double-A Biloxi. His competitiveness and three-pitch mix might get him some innings down the stretch, but his recent ineffectiveness limits his chances.
Zack Brown, RHP—Brown isn't on the 40-man, and his control has eluded him for much of the season so he's unlikely to get a ticket to Milwaukee.
Drew Rasmussen, RHP—Rasmussen is a hard-throwing righthander who is on the 40-man roster and misses bats with his fastball-slider combo. His stuff would work in the bullpen, and it makes sense to see if he can compliment vaunted lefthander Josh Hader.
Jacob Nottingham, C—Nottingham is one of four catching options on the 40-man roster, so he could find himself added to be a backup catcher.
David Freitas, C—Freitas is already on the 40-man roster, and he's wrapping up a season in which he's hitting .386 in the minors.
Troy Stokes Jr., OF—Stokes Jr. would add some speed to the roster and is already on the 40-man, making him a suitable backup and pinch running option.
Tyrone Taylor, OF—Taylor is on the 40-man and could see time as a backup option in September.
Nate Orf, INF—Orf is interesting because he has been an on-base machine in the minors, but the lack of space on the 40-man roster hurts any chance he has at getting called up. He did have a cup of coffee in 2018, which might make him a reasonable option should they need help on the infield.
The Pirates have faded in a tightly packed National League Central. They hovered near the .500 mark before falling apart in the second half of the season. The Pirates have already added righties Dario Agrazal and Luis Escobar to their big league mix. With a full 40-man roster and a crowded 60-day injured list, it's unlikely the Pirates will add many, or any, players to the 40-man roster for a short September stint.
Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B—Hayes has long been considered an excellent defender at third base, but Pittsburgh may not want to start his player clock and he isn't on the 40-man roster.
Will Craig, 1B—Craig has hit well in the upper minors, but Josh Bell is firmly entrenched at first base. While Craig has seen time in the outfield, he isn't on the 40-man roster either, although he will need to be added this offseason if the Pirates are going to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Jason Martin, OF—Martin should see time around the outfield thanks in part to his superior defensive skillset. He is already on the 40-man roster.
Kevin Kramer, INF—Kramer should get some at-bats at second base after a small cameo in 2018.
James Marvel, RHP—He doesn't blow hitters away, but he has pitched well in the upper minors. He isn't on the 40-man roster, but he's Rule 5 eligible if not added this offseason, so there's at least a reason to consider finding roster room.
Cole Tucker, SS—The Pirates could give Tucker another taste of the big leagues in preparation for him competing for an everyday job in 2020.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals find themselves battling it out at the top of the NL Central with both the Cubs and Brewers. St. Louis' offense has started to click, thanks in part to a resurgent Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals have some positional talent that can make a difference but are a bit light on pitching.
Dylan Carlson, OF—He is clearly the most impactful piece they have, but he isn't on the 40-man roster. Their outfield has perked up with Marcell Ozuna providing more punch in the lineup. Carlson doesn't need to be added to the 40-man in the offseason and has moved extremely quickly this season, so there are a couple of reasons why the Cardinals may avoid adding him.
Andrew Knizner, C—Knizner has already gotten a cup of coffee with St. Louis this season. He's likely to return as a third catcher.
Justin Williams, OF—Williams has had a good showing in limited action in Triple-A and he's already on the 40-man roster, giving him a shot to be useful September backup.
Randy Arozarena, OF—Arozarena and Williams are in a similar bucket, but he would make sense as a backup or emergency callup if they need outfield help.
Edmundo Sosa, INF—Sosa has some pop and could get more time down the stretch after a brief cup of coffee in 2018.
Ramon Urias, 2B—Urias has been getting on-base at a high clip this season for Triple-A Memphis, so it's reasonable he could see some time in the big leagues.
Junior Fernandez, RHP—Fernandez mowed down hitters in the Pacific Coast League, and his fastball-changeup combo would be a nice addition to the bullpen for St. Louis. In addition, he is already on the 40-man roster, making this an easier roster call.
Jake Woodford, RHP—Woodford isn't on the 40-man, but he has done a nice job in the upper minors and could get a spot start if a need arises.
Even though they are still in competition for the wild card, Arizona made a big splash at the trading deadline by sending Zack Greinke to Houston. Arizona may look to give more innings and at-bats to younger players in an effort to see what they need to key in on during this coming offseason. They also have two spots available on their 40-man roster should they choose to make additional callups.
Emilio Vargas, RHP—Vargas is an interesting case because he is on the 40-man roster, but he doesn’t have a plus pitch. It’s possible he sees some innings out of the bullpen to see if his high-spin rate fastball plays up in short stints.
Stefan Crichton, RHP—Crichton has been solid out of the bullpen and should continue to get innings in lower-leverage situations in the month of September.
Domingo Leyba, 2B—Leyba is already on the 40-man and could play both middle infield positions while adding value with his contact-oriented bat.
Kevin Cron,1B—Cron has crushed 38 homers for Triple-A Reno and could profile as a powernbat off the bench. He showed some power for the D-backs in his previous major league stints this year.
The Rockies' high-powered offense hasn't catapulted them to the top of their division. Rather, they are still in search of suitable arms after seeing poor performances from the likes of Jeff Hoffman and Kyle Freeland, both of whom have been sent to the minors at one point this season. Their 40-man roster is full, but they do have some interesting pieces available to them. However, It might be best for them to be judicial with service time since they are in last place in their division and there is no reason to sacrifice player control at this time.
Sam Hilliard, OF—Hilliard brings another excellent defensive presence to the outfield, and his power might translate even better at Coors field.
Josh Fuentes, 3B—Fuentes has elite defensive skills at the hot corner, but his cousin Nolan Arenado has that position locked down. Regardless, Fuentes will get at-bats at both corners since he is on the 40-man roster already.
Roberto Ramos, INF—Ramos is off the 40-man roster but has an outside shot at getting some at-bats off the bench if they need another position player.
Brian Mundell, INF—Mundell, like Ramos, isn't on the 40-man roster but has good bat-to-ball skills and could be an emergency callup if necessary.
Rico Garcia, RHP—Garcia will get some starts after an impressive showing in the upper minors and is already on the 40-man roster.
Jesus Tinoco, RHP—Tinoco will get more time out of the bullpen. His power arm and curveball could develop into a nice weapon late in games for the Rockies.
Ben Bowden, LHP—Bowden isn't on the 40-man, but his fastball-breaking ball combo and closer-like mentality could make him enticing to make room for.
Eric Yardley, RHP—The Pacific Coast League has been a hitters' paradise this season, which is why Yardley may get a callup. He isn't on the 40-man roster, but his 2.67 ERA through 60.2 innings pitched might be too hard to pass up for the bullpen.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been sitting atop the NL West for most of the season, and their team is extremely talented with plenty of versatility all around. Even so, their farm system has some quality players who are already on their packed 40-man roster and could play quality baseball while veterans get some rest down the stretch.
Gavin Lux, SS—Lux is their top prospect, but the financially-strong Dodgers may call him up if it means that he could impact their team in the postseason. It's a tough call since their roster is already stacked with potent offensive performers, but he is one of the more interesting decisions in the National League. After he hit .350/.420/.613 this season between Double-A and Triple-A, it's hard to say he couldn't help almost any team in some role.
Josh Sborz, RHP—Sborz is more likely to see low-leverage spots out of the bullpen come September.
Edwin Rios, 1B/OF—Rios doesn't really have a clear role on a stacked roster, but his bat control could make him a decent pinch-hitting option in September.
San Diego Padres
Armed with a top-flight farm system and a budding core of talent at the big league level, San Diego could make a number of callups in September. While they look up at the Giants, D-backs and Dodgers in the standings, September should be meaningful as San Diego evaluates how they wish to align their club for the following season. The 40-man roster is full, and the Padres will have a busy and tough offseason thanks to the club's excellent prospect depth, so the team is unlikely to make any major roster additions.
Edward Olivares, OF—Already on the 40-man roster, Olivares' plate discipline has improved, which could help him to get a few spot starts in the outfield.
Austin Allen, C—Another 40-man guy, Allen should get some starts behind home plate. Francisco Mejia is who they hope will be the catcher of the future, but he hasn't locked down the position just yet and Austin Hedges' bat continues to struggle. Allen's plus power and good eye at the plate should be a nice perk to the offense, while the reps he received at first base could squeak him into more games.
San Francisco Giants
Even though they are more than 20 games behind the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants are still on the very edge of the wild card race. They chose not to jettison off any expiring contracts at the trading deadline and have seen quality performances from their bullpen. Even though their superstar prospects are at the lower levels, there are still a handful of players on their full 40-man roster who could see actions for the Giants come September.
Melvin Adon, RHP— Adon sports a triple-digit fastball and above-average slider which might be useful in short stints. He is on the 40-man roster, which makes this easier.
Sam Selman, LHP—Selman works in the low to mid-90s with his fastball and has some funk from the left side. Another reliever who is already on the 40-man, Selman makes sense to see in low-leverage spots come September.
Logan Webb, RHP—Webb is on the 40-man and has had success this year in the upper minors with his fastball-breaking ball combo. He should get more starts at the back end of the rotation.
Conner Menez, LHP—Menez is a starting-option from the left side on the 40-man and could develop into a solid back end of the rotation starter.
Mauricio Dubon, INF—Dubon just got a callup, as he provides some versatility on the infield in a backup role.
Zach Green, 1B—Green is a first base-only player, but his bat could provide a spark off the bench. He is on the 40-man, which also helps his cause.