With September quickly approaching, we're coming to the end of the minor league baseball season and, for a select few players, the beginning of a major league cameo. September call-ups are an annual rite and let an organization (and its fans) see a few of the club's near-ready prospects up close. It also serves as a reward for those players. Obviously the majors are the goal for any player and attaining a major league roster spot (even with expanded rosters) is something that can never be taken away from them. Also, they'll make about as much (or more) in that month than they make in the entire season. With recent injuries, some of the players who would have been call-ups are already here (Tyler Flowers, Dayan Viciedo, Donny Lucy, perhaps Josh Kinney). So the number of players who come up September 2, or in the ensuing days after minor league seasons are over, will probably be smaller than in recent years. Let's take a look at some of the candidates:
- Let's first get a few of the non-call-up moves out of the way. The White Sox will use the expanded roster to bring back A.J. Pierzynski on September 2 (assuming no issues on his rehab that starts Monday). Phil Humber will be joining A.J. with Charlotte for a rehab start on Tuesday. He's expected to be back September 5. Carlos Quentin's return is more debatable. He's eligible to be back September 5. But I would consider that optimistic. Ramon Castro (remember him?) is a possibility for the second half of September, though likely only as a favor for the free agent to showcase his health.
- Bullpen reinforcements will also be arriving. I canvassed the 40 man roster inhabitants last week and that's where this inquiry should always start. In that, I identified Gregory Infante and Nathan Jones as possibilities. Infante, also a call-up last season, is the better (perhaps sure) bet. While the results this season haven't been overwhelming, he still has stuff about as good as anyone in the system. Jones is less certain. He's really come on strong in the last few months, and he's an organizational favorite, but he may be a victim of the numbers game. The existence of Kinney (and, considering the state of the organization, the additional cost) may block a deserving player. Hector Santiago, the lefty seen earlier this season, also has a chance. However, this is his first season as a starter and he's piled up the innings. Without a real playoff possibility to consider, and with the bullpen already featuring three lefties, it may be best to just let him finish out the season with the playoff-bound Barons. The results this season at Birmingham - 114.1 IP, 101 H, 47 BB, 105 K - have vaulted him to the title of top lefty in the system. And Santiago makes that no longer a tallest midget contest, just an unopposed one.