For the last few weeks a lot of baseball games have lacked interest. While some games have been spectacles in their own right, not many of them will have an impact on the eventual outcome of the season. Almost two-thirds of major league teams no longer have a realistic chance of making the postseason and a few of those still contending are pretty much assured of a postseason berth.
The expanded rosters in September give a chance for contending teams to add depth and protect players before the postseason but more importantly it is the first chance for many prospects to have a run of starts in the major leagues. The chance to see how potential stars handle the step up to the major leagues adds some relevance to the last month of the regular season for non-contending teams.
The end of the minor league season a few days into September meant that there was a flurry of promotions during the few days after but most teams now have their rosters set for the remaining games.Unfortunately Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Eloy Jimenez were not among the players to be promoted. As the first and third ranked prospects respectively, Jimenez and Guerrero are two of the most exciting offensive prospects in the minor leagues. They have both been dominant in AAA this year and will be middle of the order bats when they eventually make it up.
The next few weeks would undoubtedly be more interesting if Guerrero and Jimenez were still playing baseball. However there are many September call-ups that could have a major impact in 2019 and beyond. Here is an overview of some of the more significant promotions.
The Padres’ number three prospect got off to a fast start by hitting two home runs in his first start. After being traded to the Padres from the Indians in July, Mejia became a key part of the Padres rebuild. He joins Luis Urias, who was promoted in August, as the start of a wave of highly rated prospects that should reach the Padres major league team in the next year or so.
Mejia’s ability to catch is doubtful. As a catcher Mejia could be elite offensively but he may quickly be moved to third base or left field if he struggles behind the plate, particularly with the presence of Austin Hedges. There is little doubt that Mejia will be an above average hitter at any position but it remains to be seen just how good he can be.
Kyle Wright will mainly be used out of the bullpen this year due to the Braves being in postseason contention. We will not learn much about Wright’s ability as a major league starter but the next few weeks will provide a sneak peak at the stuff of a potential ace.
The Braves made a big step forward this year and will surely be contenders for a few more years but whether they can develop starting pitchers will decide how dominant they can be and for how long. Kyle Wright is one of their best chances to develop an ace.
Verdugo has seemingly been ready for the major leagues for some time. He has had a couple of short stints in the major leagues this year but there has not been room for him on the roster when everyone is healthy.
With the Dodgers still fighting for a postseason spot, Verdugo is one of the only September call ups that could make a big impact this year. This could be his biggest chance to grab hold of a roster spot for next season, or earn himself a trade when the Dodgers acquire a proven veteran outfielder such as Bryce Harper.
Alcantara was received in the Marlins’ fire sale last winter. This stretch is his first opportunity to have a run of starts in the major leagues after pitching in the minors for the last few months. He has not exactly been dominant this year, striking out only 6.8 batters per nine innings in AAA, but the Marlins may choose to let him develop against major league hitters.
With a fastball that touches 100 mph, Alcantara certainly has the potential to be effective and he has made a very good start, pitching seven shutout innings in his first start. Although the Marlins are not going to be competing any time soon, lower ranked prospects like Alcantara succeeding will get them there a lot quicker.
The toolsy outfielder has been one of the top position player prospects in baseball since the start of the season. The Nationals should be giving him plenty of playing time now that they are out of contention.
Whether Bryce Harper leaves or not, Robles should be the everyday centre fielder at some point next year and now is the perfect time to give him at bats against major league pitching. Robles’ sky-high ceiling combined with the emergence of Juan Soto means that they do not have to be held to ransom by Harper.