Let’s take a look at the recently announced September call-ups, and discuss a few of the more intriguing names for fantasy purposes moving forward. Some will contribute more than others this month, but all should be on your fantasy radar at least for 2014.
The Mariners recently summoned top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker to the major leagues, and he didn’t disappoint in his victorious debut (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO). Walker flashed dominating strikeout stuff during his time in the upper minors this season (160 SO in 141.1 IP), and that success should continue in his time in the majors. Walker throws an explosive mid-90s fastball, complemented by a hammer curve, cutter and changeup. Despite only generating six swinging strikes in his debut, bright days are ahead for the young righty -- and those days could help you down the stretch this season.
From an offensive standpoint, Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton should have the greatest fantasy impact this September, thanks to his dominance of the stolen base category. Hamilton finished his first full season at Triple-A with an underwhelming .256 average, with an even more disappointing .308 on-base percentage, especially for a guy who will need to get on base to have offensive value. His 75 steals are also a bit of a disappointment after he swiped 155 bags last season. Even if Hamilton only plays sparingly, and primarily serves as a pinch runner, he still has a chance to steal 10-15 bases in September.
The Tigers called up their top outfield prospect Nick Castellanos on Sunday, and he promptly went 0-for-2 in his major league debut. Castellanos has a good approach to hitting, using the whole field while also controlling the strike zone well. His 18 home runs and 37 doubles were impressive for a 21 year old in Triple-A, and should improve as he continues to mature as a hitter. He’ll be in the mix for starts through the rest of the season.
With the A’s in the thick of the playoff hunt, the club decided to give outfielder Michael Choice a look this September, notable with Josh Reddick on the DL. Choice has shown improved understanding of the strike zone over his last three seasons. Choice has serious raw power and legitimate 30-homer upside. Although there is a logjam in front of him now in Oakland, the mediocrity of the group could allow him to draw a few starts a week.
One of the more intriguing arms getting the call this September is Red Sox righty Rubby De La Rosa, who was one of the key pieces in last summer’s blockbuster trade with the Dodgers. The Red Sox used him as a starter this season, but limited him to only 80.1 innings through 20 starts. Many scouts feel his inconsistent delivery and fringe-average command will lead to him being a reliever long term, but one who could excel as a closer. His 98-100 MPH fastball and mid-80s changeup are both plus offerings that could help him rack up plenty of strikeouts.
The biggest disappointment this September will be the call up that doesn’t happen, and that appears to be Astros outfielder George Springer. Despite hitting .305 with 37 homers, 105 RBI, and 44 steals, we’ll probably need to wait until next season to see him on the major league stage. Timothy De Block over at The Crawfish Boxes offers this reasoning:
“The Rule 5 draft, which takes place in December, allows teams to pick through other teams farm systems for potential big league players. The work the Astros have done in improving the farm system means that there is an increased chance that someone will select a player out of the Astros farm system. … Adding Springer to the 40-man roster for a September call up would mean one less Rule 5 eligible prospect they could protect. The Astros do not want to lose a prospect, which means, unfortunately, we won't get to see some of the Astros stud prospects this season.”
This wraps up another season of Minor Developments. Best of luck as you chase fantasy glory this September and see you next spring.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall) and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com