Who will get the call when rosters expand?
On Monday while most of the country will be recovering from a 48 hour non-stop alcohol fest weekend at "the lake" and coming down off bath salts or opium (opium is a thing right?), the MLB rosters will expand. Some people don't like roster expansion, which doesn't really make sense, but it's going to happen.
The idea is pretty simple, for the first five months of the season only players on the 25-man (active) roster are allowed to be eligible and participate in MLB games. Once the calendar rolls to September 1st, any player on the teams 40-man roster is given eligibility.
Clubs use this expansion to generally call up prospects to give them a taste of the big leagues or allow them to continue to play baseball once the minor league season ends. Sometimes teams will call a guy up who's one of the 40-man members that could get the axe in the offseason (when clubs have to put Rule 5 eligible guys on the 40-man) to see what they've really got.
This year we should see some nice names called up. Joc Pederson, Carlos Rodon, Alex Meyer, Christian Walker and Aaron Nola have all been rumored. The Royals also have some prospects, and non-prospects, who could get their "cup of coffee" in a couple days.
Finnegan was drafted just three months ago but has moved quickly through the system with good results. He was given an aggressive assignment to A+ Wilmington (most college guys Advanced Rookie or Low-A), and in the pitcher friendly confines of Frawley Stadium Finnegan allowed one run in 15 innings while striking out 13 batters and walking just two. In an effort to get him major league action and limit his innings this year, the Royals moved him to he bullpen and promoted him to AA. The Texas League results have been nearly the same; 11 innings pitched, two earned runs, 11 strikeouts, two walks. Finnegan has been hit more than he did in A+, but he's been able to strand runners.
Finnegan brings a plus-fastball from 92-94 with a two-plane slider and an average-ish changeup. The Royals fully plan on using him as a starter after this season and for the foreseeable future, but if he's going to see the bigs this year, it'll be out of the pen.
The quietest and unsexiest prospect you may ever see. Binford has gone from a decent high schooler with a nice signing bonus guy to fringe prospect to fringe top-100 prospect. It's not a matter of pure stuff with Binford but 65-70 grade control that allows him to succeed. The fastball peaks at 92 and the slider has some good tilt, but the changeup is a little flat, comes from a noticeably slower arm speed, and is a ways away from being average. Like Finnegan the Royals have moved Binford into the bullpen in Omaha for the time being and he's on the shortlist of callups.
The rumored fastest guy in baseball is a speed specialist obviously. The stick is seriously lacking and he should never come to the plate for the Royals unless they are just trying to speed the game up with a guaranteed out. Gore has significant contact making issues but he does have a good recognition of the strike zone and generally a plan at the plate. When he gets on base, something he's done through his minor league career with some success, he becomes a headache for the pitcher. Gore has stolen 167 bases in 328 career games including a 68 steal season last year. You can debate the fastest man title between Gore, Billy Hamilton, or Micah Johnson, but Gore will be more Eric Young Jr than Kenny Lofton given the no power, high speed, and contact rates.
Expect to see Gore pinch run for Butler at any time later than the 8th inning in a close game. Just hope that Gore doesn't stay in as DH.
The Royals picked up Pena as a minor league free agent when the Mets decided they didn't want Pena to play baseball for them anymore. Given Pena's poor performance from age 17 to 23, it makes sense they wouldn't want him to play for them. I wouldn't want him to play for my team either, even though he does play for my team. Since joining Omaha, Pena has been mostly the same. Doesn't really walk, doesn't really strikeout a lot, and doesn't get on base much. One thing that has changed about him is he ran fully into his power. Pena has hit almost as many home runs this season (27) as he had in his entire career prior. Pena could provide relief for Salvador Perez as the season drags on. He's received all of one big league inning in his career and has accrued 0.1 fWAR in that time. For what it's worth, that's more than Eric Hosmer has provided this year.
Finnegan nor Binford nor Gore are on the 40-man roster so room would need to be cleared for any, either, or all.
Whit Merrifield: 50 grade name outfielder for Omaha who's eating the PCL alive at age 25. He was part of the South Carolina College World Series championship team and even delivered the walk off hit. Merrifield probably won't be anything more than a 4th or 5th outfielder/utility guy but if he gets on the 40-man then there's no reason to not give him a call up.
Carlos Peguero: Years of languishing with poor results for the Mariners system, Peguero has seen a successful campaign as a too old for the league guy in AAA. There is certainly power there but it comes with a 30% K-rate.
Johnny Giavotella: The man with Popeye like forearms (seriously those things are massive) is already on the 40-man and could provide some depth.
Justin Maxwell: Not on the 40-man anymore, but is probably somewhere on the list, even at the bottom, of guys who could come up in September. Who else is going to hit a walk-off grand slam for the final home game of the year?
Jason Nix: Newly added veteran utility man was just claimed off waivers from the Pirates. He's on the 40-man.
Cheslor Cuthbert: Cuthbert is on the 40-man already and was recently promoted to Omaha. The Storm Chasers are still in the playoff hunt but closing in on elimination and if the Royals want Cuthbert to continue to experience baseball before vacation then he could see the major league club.
John Lamb: The royals fallen angel, Lamb was once one of the best pitching prospects in baseball before his TJ Surgery (ranked as high as #11). The velocity was slow to come back. Generally velocity is the first thing to return for TJ guys then throwing their full arsenal at high gear then command, but for Lamb the velocity took years to come back. While it hasn't returned to it's previous mid-low 90's, it better than the mid-80's he once was throwing after surgery. Lamb will never be the potential pitcher he once was, but there's a non-zero chance he could be a #4 starter if the velo/command steps a little bit more forward. Lamb is already on the 40-man.
Chris Dwyer: Another fallen angel. Dwyer wasn't as highly ranked as Lamb or Mike Montgomery, but control has gone out the window. Best case scenario is he's an okay reliever.