We are nearly a week away from roster expansion. Who could help the Brewers in the final month of the season?
Historically, Doug Melvin and the Brewers don't tend to make a lot of call-ups for September, when rosters expand to accomodate anyone from the 40-man a team wishes. They tend to limit it to a very select few -- typically a veteran-type who can pinch hit on occasion along with a few pitchers to help ease workloads in blowouts.
The stereotypical lineup of call-ups tends to be top prospect, bullpen arms, speedster solely for pinch-running, third catcher, and older minor league guy being rewarded. Milwaukee, however, does not believe in having a long list of players called up just to sit around. Manager Ron Roenicke -- who likely has a fair amount of input in this decision -- had this to say last year:
"I think there's sometimes a reward, that you'd like to bring a guy up for what he's done in the Minor Leagues," Roenicke said. "And then the other guys, when you bring them up, you want to bring them up for the purpose of using them to further their development. If you can get a guy 3-4 starts, and you're thinking in the future, this guy has a chance to be a starter, I really think that helps him.
"But a regular, if you get him up here and he gets four at-bats for the month, I don't see how that helps you out."
Roenicke also said last year that a third catcher wasn't necessary as he could barely find enough playing time for Martin Maldonado (who hit for a .520 OPS in 2013) as it was. This year, Maldonado has played even less despite actually hitting fairly well. Besides all that, there isn't even a third catcher on the 40-man roster, so that won't be happening.
With that said, there are a few players on the 40-man roster who seem like they could have a shot at helping the team in September. Here's a look at the case for each.
Want got 'hurt' back in July, allowing the Brewers to put the Rule 5 pick on the DL so they could keep him in the organization while not needing his 11.12 ERA and 2.24 WHIP on the active roster. Since his 'injury', he's been 'rehabbing' in Rookie and High-A ball, where he has made five pretty decent starts. With rosters expanded, the Brewers' can better hide him on the main roster. He won't be developing or anything, but that can wait until next year.
Rogers, the organization's minor league player of the year in 2013, has jumped from relative obscurity to perhaps one of the team's best prospects in the last two years. Selected in the 32nd round of the 2010 draft, Rogers hit .301/.405/.449 in the lower minors in 2012, then .270/.346/.468 with 22 homers in Double-A Huntsville last year. This season, he's split time between Double-A and Triple-A and, overall, has an 832 OPS.
Rogers has also been playing third base heavily this season after spending most of his career if left field or at first. This indicates that the Brewers see him as someone who could potentially make an impact on the big league squad in the near future. Aramis Ramirez may not be long for the organization -- could Rogers be his replacement?
That said, Rogers may be exactly what the Brewers don't want in a September call up. If he's a guy who has a chance to be a starter, that fits in with Roenicke not wanting to hurt development by bringing him up -- especially after less than 50 games in Nashville. If Hunter Morris hasn't seen a lick of major league playing time, my guess is that Rogers won't in September, either.
The Brewers' return from the Cardinals in the John Axford trade has split time between relief and starting in Triple-A this season, with mixed results. On the season he has a 4.14 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 91 innings. He's been much better as a starter -- in 20 relief appearances he has a 5.68 ERA and has allowed batters to hit for a .933 OPS. He won't be starting if he's brought up to the majors, so his poor performance in relief may be a killer.
Blazek was great in the minors with St. Louis last season, earning a 1.97 ERA entirely out of the bullpen. He's got value, and is one of very few arms in Triple-A who could competently take a couple innings in the majors. If the Brewers were a team that made a larger quantity of call-ups, his odds would be better.
Schafer started the season with the Brewers and lasted for months before being sent back to Nashville because he couldn't hit anything. In 53 games with Milwaukee, he had just a .556 OPS. He does play defense well, though. He's also been hitting a little better in the minors with a .279/.361/.434 line.
The Brewers seem to like Schafer well enough, and their bench strategy has appeared to favor defensive players. Schafer is also someone who should probably never, ever be considered as a possible future starter. Thus, he fits the call-up mold nicely. If I'm Logan Schafer and I don't get called up, I'm worrying about my future with the organization.
Gindl was up briefly earlier in 2014 and didn't impress. He was a competent bat in 57 games with the Brewers last year, though, with a healthy .340 OBP. Unfortunately, this year Gindl has shown little that would make the Brewers think he's worth a look in September. With Nashville, the 25-year-old has hit just .234 with a 683 OPS. The Brewers preferred Schafer out of spring training for his defense -- Gindl is basically all-bat. And when that's not going well, there's little reason for him to be up in the majors.
Figaro played 33 games for the Brewers last year and has already been in the majors once earlier in 2014. In 39 games with Nashville, he has a 3.72 ERA, but has given up a ton of hits (77 in 65 innings). He's a guy who would be a simple add given that he's previously shown the ability to get major league hitters out. He wouldn't be a key cog by any means, but if the Brewers are winning or losing by a large amount, Figaro could soak up some innings as a long relief pitcher.
Wooten has been up and down with the Brewers all year, making 39 major league appearances and 17 Triple-A appearances. He has been a bit better with the Brewers than with the Sounds, but was typically the last man out of the bullpen (non-Wang division). His extensive time in the bigs this season is enough to think that he will be back up as soon as September rolls around.
Ha, as if the Brewers would ever actually let Morris see time in the majors. Also, he just spent a good amount of time out due to injury and still hasn't shown the ability to get on base consistently. The Brewers need a first baseman of the future, but Morris is looking less and less like that guy. His power will keep him relevant, but it doesn't seem good enough to force his way to the majors.
Matt Garza will also be a pseudo-September call-up as he is expected to come off the DL at the beginning of the month. That will leave Mike Fiers on the roster, as well. Either Fiers or Jimmy Nelson will then move to the bullpen, with the former being more likely.
My guess is that Wooten, Schafer and Wang will be the other three added to the roster in September. One of the others could join them, but I'd bet the Brewers will stick to recent history with a smaller list of players.
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