To honor the 28 days of baseball this September, here are 28 September call-ups to keep an eye on.
For fairness, they're in alphabetical order. Except the first guy. Because he's the one everybody wants to see.
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay: Worry not, Rays fans, however many of you there actually are. Price will be here soon enough after pitching for Durham in the Triple-A playoffs. And when he arrives, most likely as a reliever, the pea-throwing left-hander will be a weapon a la Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. Like K-Rod, Price will be eligible for the postseason in spite of not being on the Rays' roster Sept. 1 because of a loophole that allows teams to use disabled-list spots – currently Chad Orvella and Jae Kuk Ryu – for those in the organization by Aug. 31.
Matt Antonelli, 2B, San Diego: The Padres hope their revolving door at second base ends with Antonelli, whose ability to draw walks couldn't overcome his awful bat this season. A year after he broke out with 21 home runs, Antonelli hit seven with a .215 batting average at Triple-A.
Kyle Blanks, 1B, San Diego: The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Blanks tore through Double-A, culminating with a nine-RBI game Aug. 25. The Padres have discussed calling him up, and if they do, fans will see a player one scout said looks, offensively, "like a bigger, stronger Derrek Lee." Albeit mainly in pinch-hitting spots, as Adrian Gonzalez is entrenched at first base."
Michael Bowden, SP, Boston: Though he's back at Triple-A, Bowden earned his first major-league win this week. And if Josh Beckett's arm falters, he'll be right back in the rotation for the stretch, giving the Red Sox another young arm to complement Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz.
Aaron Cunningham, OF, Oakland: Every day it seems like another player from the Dan Haren deal plays for the A's. Cunningham is the latest, joining Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith and Dana Eveland. The scary part: The two best prospects in that deal, left-handed starter Brett Anderson and power-hitting first baseman Chris Carter, haven't arrived.
Alcides Escobar, SS, Milwaukee: Phenomenal talent defensively – his arm strength, one scout said, grades a perfect 80 on the scouting scale – turned into an offensive force. At Double-A, Escobar hit .328 and stole 34 bases, and he's one of 10 players the Brewers called up as they readied for their first playoff appearance in two decades.
Josh Fields, 3B/OF, Chicago White Sox: So how exactly does one go from hitting 23 home runs in 100 major-league games to an entire year in the minor leagues? Depth and injuries kept Fields at Triple-A most of the season, and he struggled there. If Joe Crede leaves via free agency, he's likely the solution. If not, he's as good as gone.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado: Dynamic tools finally came together for the long, lanky switch hitter. After getting on base at a .431 clip and slugging .515 at Double-A, Fowler could take over center field for the Rockies next season.
Mat Gamel, 3B, Milwaukee: Perhaps the best hitter in the minor leagues not named Matt Wieters – Baltimore, by the way, did not call up the catcher who will be No. 1 on most prospect lists this offseason – Gamel struggled down the stretch and is with Milwaukee mainly for insurance as a left-handed power bat off the bench.
Greg Golson, OF, Philadelphia: He has little chance of sneaking onto the Phillies' postseason roster, as their outfield depth is a strength. Still, Golson will be a nice pinch-running option for Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard for the remainder of the regular season.
Micah Hoffpauir, 1B/OF, Chicago: The 28-year-old killed Triple-A pitching – .362 batting average, .752 slugging percentage, 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 290 at-bats – and was pretty good in a short stint with the Cubs, too. Though he's insurance, Hoffpauir isn't a bad policy.
Will Inman, SP, San Diego: Somehow, despite stuff that scouts rate across-the-board average, he strikes out more than one hitter an inning and has done so his entire minor-league career. May come with the second wave of Padres callups – and, boy, do they need them.
Kila Ka'aihue, 1B, Kansas City: Complete non-prospect entering the season turned into an absolute terror. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit 37 home runs and got on base an incredible 45.6 percent of the time. With Ross Gload spending the majority of the time at first for the Royals, the 24-year-old Ka'aihue better get a chance to play.
Lou Marson, C, Philadelphia: Another on-base machine who caught for the bronze-winning Olympic baseball team. There just in case Carlos Ruiz or Chris Coste gets hurt – and to show he's ready to take the full-time job next season.
Shairon Martis, SP, Washington: Most recognizable for throwing a seven-inning no-hitter at the World Baseball Classic, Martis was traded from the Giants to the Nationals and has cruised through the organization. Though only 21, he could find himself in the opening day rotation next season.
Scott McClain, IF, San Francisco: Meet Crash Davis. In 19 seasons, nearly all of them in the minor leagues and Japan, he has hit 362 home runs. His 45 major-league at-bats in cups of coffee haven't yielded one yet. Here's to McClain's quest for one longball he can tell his grandkids about.
James McDonald, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Overshadowed by Clayton Kershaw at Double-A, the 6-foot-5 right-hander was even better at Triple-A, where he struck out 28 in 22 1/3 innings. He should pitch in long relief as the Dodgers and Diamondbacks fight the Battle of Futility.
Dallas McPherson, 3B, Florida: If the name sounds familiar, it's because in 2004 for the Angels he was the best power-hitting prospect in baseball. Even after getting two vertebrae fused, causing him to miss last season, he's still got pop – McPherson led the minor leagues with 42 home runs – but the Marlins don't seem to have a spot for him, and he still strikes out far too much.
John Meloan, RP, Cleveland: Converted by the Indians back to the relief role in which he thrived, Meloan arrived from the Dodgers in the Casey Blake trade and is a candidate to close for Cleveland next season. He's big, mean and throws hard. Sounds right for the job.
Kam Mickolio, RP, Baltimore: Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. As if the Erik Bedard deal wasn't already one-sided enough for Baltimore, here comes Mickolio, the towering right-hander who was OK at Double-A, excellent at Triple-A and adds to the Orioles' Bedard booty: starting center fielder Adam Jones, closer George Sherrill and 20-year-old Chris Tillman, who's arguably the best starting-pitching prospect in the minors.
Jose Mijares, RP, Minnesota: Last season, Mijares was the hardest-throwing left-handed reliever in the minor leagues. An offseason car accident slowed his progress, but he seems to have harnessed command issues and could make the postseason roster, if Ron Gardenhire needs some lefty smoke instead of soft-tossing Dennys Reyes and Craig Breslow.
Jon Niese, SP, New York Mets: Not exactly the auspicious debut the Mets had hoped for. Niese got knocked around Tuesday for five runs by Milwaukee, and even though New York won in extra innings, this sent their rotation into even more flux.
Angel Salome, C, Milwaukee: One scout called his swing "uglier than Amy Winehouse." How the 5-foot-7, 200-pound Salome hit .360 at Double-A the scout isn't sure, but .360 is .360, and the Brewers believe they've got their catcher of the future.
Max Scherzer, SP, Arizona: The glimpse of Scherzer earlier this season was tantalizing. He's been resting a sore shoulder at Triple-A for most of the second half, and the Diamondbacks hope the time off allows him to pitch at full strength, because they will use him in important relief situations.
Travis Snider, OF, Toronto: Of all the players on this list, Snider might be the surest thing in September after Price. Though he doesn't quite look the part – Snider is listed at 5-foot-11, 245 pounds – he moves well enough. And anyway, his bat is why he's up as a 20-year-old. After a slow start at Double-A, Snider began to mash there, and he drove in 17 runs in 64 Triple-A at-bats. All of which was enough for the Blue Jays to summon him for the final month.
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B, Seattle: Last name sound familiar? Yeah, it's NFL quarterback Marques' brother, and it took a $2.3 million signing bonus in 2004 to keep him away from football at Washington. Though Tuiasosopo wasn't spectacular at Triple-A this season, the Mariners want to see what he can do before deciding how to proceed with Adrian Beltre, who, with one year at $12 million left on his contract, could be a trade chip.