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Possible September call ups for the Royals

Let's stack the bench and pen with some farmhands.

H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone should be fairly familiar with the upcoming September roster expansion. For those who aren't, here is a primer, courtesy of Baseball Almanac:

On September 1, the Major League team's roster expands from the 25-man active roster to the entire 40-man roster. At this point, any player on the 40-man roster can play for the Major League team. September call-ups are players from the minors who are playing in September to get Major League experience and, especially for teams in contention, to provide reinforcements down the stretch.

It seems a bit bizarre that on September 1 teams can reinforce their roster with 15 extra players, but "them's the rules."

One other consideration is the December Rule 5 draft which you can read a bit more about here, but that isn't pressing. Some players will need to be protected on the 40 man roster at some point this winter, which is an obvious consideration.

Here is the Royals' current 40-man roster:

Tim Collins  60-day DL **
Johnny Cueto
Wade Davis
Danny Duffy
Brian Flynn  60-day DL **
Jeremy Guthrie
Kelvin Herrera
Luke Hochevar
Greg Holland
Ryan Madson
Michael Mariot *
Kris Medlen
Franklin Morales
Yohan Pino *
Jason Vargas  15-day DL *
Yordano Ventura
Edinson Volquez
Chris Young
Drew Butera
Francisco Pena *
Salvador Perez
Orlando Calixte *
Dusty Coleman *
Christian Colon *
Cheslor Cuthbert *
Alcides Escobar
Eric Hosmer
Omar Infante
Mike Moustakas
Ben Zobrist
Lane Adams *
Jorge Bonifacio *
Lorenzo Cain
Jarrod Dyson
Reymond Fuentes *
Alex Gordon  15-day DL *
Terrance Gore *
Paulo Orlando
Alex Rios
Designated Hitter
Kendrys Morales

That is 38 taken spots, so two are open.

Players on the 60-day disabled list don't take up a 40-man spot while players on the 15-day disabled list do.

To be removed from the 40-man roster, a player must be designated for assignment, exposing them to waivers, meaning any team can claim them if they put them on their 40-man roster.

Some of the players listed are pretty much spots in name only. It is unlikely that a team claims Dusty Coleman or Michael Mariot. If they do, it is not like the Royals are missing anything really.

Think of this as more of a musing on who could be called up rather than a declaration as to who will to be called up. Speculating as to what the front office's is thinking is folly. There are a limited number of spots and a lot of decent candidates.

One thing to remember is that the minor league playoffs start soon. Northwest Arkansas (AA) have solidified themselves a playoff spot by winning their division in the first half (though are currently in last place right now). Omaha (AAA) though is now 6.5 games behind first place Oklahoma City with only about two weeks left to play. This would mark the first time the Storm Chasers haven't won their division since 2010. This may not matter to most, but the front office of MLB teams take this in consideration and even promote/demote players to help out in playoff runs (like Hunter Dozier in 2013).

One last thing to consider: any player not on the 40-man roster by August 31 would be ineligible for the playoffs. If the Royals want a Kyle Zimmer or Bubba Starling this October, they'll need to be added by that date.

Already on the 40-man:

Michael Mariot - Mariot is having a good season out of the Omaha bullpen (2.41 ERA, 3.00 FIP) but is a bit old for AAA. He's the owner of a plus, near double-plus, fastball, but the other pitches are a bit fringy. He seems like a decent candidate given that he has major-league experience, is already on the 40-man, and would probably only appear in low-leverage situations.

Yohan Pino - A long-time minor-leaguer who has had a rough go in the rotation in AAA so far this year. He is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. If he's healthy in September, a role past that of a long reliever is hard to imagine. He did get some time in Kansas City this year and fared pretty well. However, he probably is not a serious candidate to start a game in September barring any injury, though he might be the next man on the list if an injury does happen.

Francisco Pena - Pena might make some sense since the only thing between him and a permanent 25-man spot is Drew Butera. Pena can't really hit, but defensively he seems to pass the eye-test. He's got a respectable 32% caught-stealing rate this year, on par with Salvador Perez's career mark.

Orlando Calixte - Like the others listed above, Calixte (née Caxito) got some major-league time recently. Calixte has a strong arm and can hold down shortstop in addition to other infield spots. There's solid raw power. If pitchers only threw him fastballs, he'd be an All-Star caliber player. Unfortunately other pitches exist. Calixte mainly has trouble with offspeed. He can hit some breaking balls with moderate consistency, but he's very vulnerable to anything that looks like a fastball out of hand (i.e. changeups, sinkers, splitters).

Dusty Coleman - Royals fans know this name from the infamy that was know as the "Dusty Coleman TOOTBLAN 4th of July Eve Fiasco (for the kids)!"

Coleman would be a pretty easy call-up as a backup player, but there are likely other guys in front of him for the defensive-replacement spot.

Christian Colon - Sorry... that's former #4 overall pick Christian Colon. Colon was optioned to Omaha on the same night as the "Dusty Coleman TOOTBLAN 4th of July Eve Fiasco (for the kids)!" He was the Royals' utility guy to begin the year but was barely used in this capacity, and the Royals decided to send him down to collect more regular everyday at-bats. This begat a campaign featuring an 88 wRC+ in AAA.

Cheslor Cuthbert - Cuthbert is probably behind Colon on the pecking order. He's not as good a defender as Colon (even at first base), and the bat may not be any better either. Personally it is hard to envision Cuthbert's future as anything more than that of a roughly replacement-level player given his poor defense and lack of bat to make up for it.

Lane Adams - Adams was a spring training invitee and maybe had a shot at the Paulo Orlando role that Orlando has been playing this year. Instead, he was optioned to AAA where he didn't hit well and was demoted further to AA, where he has hit to the tune of a 109 wRC+. Adams has a little more power than his body size might suggest, and he possesses plus speed that works well in the outfield.

Jorge Bonifacio - For many years prior to 2015, evaluators wondered when Bonifacio's average-to-plus raw power would appear in games. This year it has, but that has come at the cost of his hit tool. Bonifacio now has 1,000+ plate appearances in AA on his resume but has been roughly average or below in his time there.

Reymond Fuentes - Fuentes could impact the team this September in the pinch-runner or defensive-replacement vein. He has above-average speed and a very good glove, making him capable of playing all three outfield positions. The bat is a little light, so he'll create value from outside the batters box.

Terrance Gore - With the speed rival to current 25-man member Jarrod Dyson, Gore is a familiar face to Royals fans from last year. It is not so much a debate of who is faster between Dyson and Gore, but who is a better hitter? At this point, that is Dyson, which is why he has the major-league role. Gore was sent to AA to start the year with his focus being to get on base and let his speed take over. Gore's walk rate has jumped back up a bit from last year and he's now getting on base at around a .360 clip, which is great. It's tough to see an everyday major-league role for Gore (especially with Dyson in the organization), but when you are really, really good at your niche clubs usually find some way to use you.

Not on the 40-man

Kyle Zimmer - Everyone should be well-versed in Zimmer's story, so there is no need to delve into that. He's back to starting full-time on regular days rest. The governor is still on him a bit as he's been limited to roughly 75 pitches per outing, but in those 75 pitches he has tantalized with occasional peak Zimmer performances. His fastball command has been a bit fringy so far, but he's still getting swings and misses while using the pitch to get ahead on hitters early. His curveball has been a bit more impressive than I recalled. It has been mowing down AA batters, who to their credit are probably facing a guy in Zimmer who is too advanced for their talent level. Zimmer has been throwing his changeup sparingly and seems to have almost abandoned his slider (that, or there is not a distinct difference from his curveball, which is usually more 12-6 than 1-7).

There's been an idea floated around that seems to be originating from the Royals front office suggesting that Zimmer could see some big league time this year out of the bullpen. In his most recent chat, Kansas City Star beat writer Andy McCullough mentioned that this might not actually happen. That does make some sense. Zimmer is currently being stretched out and is finally throwing 70+ pitches for the first time since 2013. It may not make sense to call him up and lower his pitch counts to 20-30 unless they were only going to use him in long-relief situations in which he gets at least a few innings of work.

Zimmer is finally near major-league ready at this point, but it is not a bad thing to see how he handles AAA more than the brief playoff stint he got in 2014 there.

Kyle must be added to the 40-man this offseason, which may help his 2015 major-league appearance prospects.

Bubba Starling - In his return to high-A Wilmington to open the year, Starling hit well and earned a promotion to Northwest Arkansas. He played well over the 300 plate appearances he's seen so far in AA. There was a hamstring injury that caused him to miss a month, and he was sick over the past week but is back in lineup now. His strikeouts are down, but they are still slightly above league average (~20%). This is still something to monitor given his past struggles in the strikeout department.

Bubba has to be added to the 40-man this off-season too. That may help his 40-man cause this season, but he will probably just finish the 2015 minor league season and get all winter to rest. Knowing Bubba, he'll probably still be hitting the gym, driving in his monster truck, and deer hunting instead of resting.

Raul Mondesi - Mondesi doesn't quite make sense as he's not really even near big league ready but he's in AA, and has to be on the 40-man roster this winter. He shouldn't be given any appearances at the plate in the major league level but would be an excellent infield defensive replacement and base runner.

Miguel Almonte - As the low guy on Almonte, it may well come back to bite me. Maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut, but Almonte's probably a reliever to me. If the Royals shared that view, then he could see some time in the Royals' bullpen this year, getting the ball rolling with his potential role right now.

Since the trade deadline ravaged it, the Omaha roster is hurting for starting pitchers. Almonte has been somewhat successful there, though his usual inconsistencies with regards to his pitches and tools not being on in a night have persisted outside of maybe his AAA debut.

Almonte needs to be added on the 40-man roster this offseason to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Not on the 40-man and not that much of a prospect (to me)

Brett Eibner - Per Royals Review's Minda Haas, Eibner was just placed on the disabled list with a thumb contusion but that should necessarily be something that ends his season. It is likely that the more casual fan sees Eibner's numbers and thinks he could nearly replicate that production in the majors. That just seems highly unlikely.

That Eibner didn't even make my top 45 list this past July should tell you how low I am on him. Eibner has been old at basically every league he's played in. While the power is enticing, the strikeout rates have not been. This year in AAA he's cut down the strikeouts while pumping up the power; but he's also 26 years old and is repeating AAA. Sometimes things like that provide insight as to how the organization and internal scouts view him. Eibner has gotten by on his ability to hit the ball hard and over the wall, but his non-power contact has just been poor.

I'm fully okay with eating crow on Eibner. I hope he carves out multiple 3-4 win seasons (for the Royals).

Jose Martinez - Martinez has been the best player by far in Omaha in his first year with the organization. Martinez was once a pretty good prospect for the White Sox with some projection, but an injury appeared to have derailed his career. Martinez eventually became the first baseball player to return from a meniscus transplant that wiped away almost three full seasons. He eventually was released by the White Sox before latching onto the Braves and now the Royals.

Martinez is best described as wiry or lanky. He is really tall--listed as 6'7"--but his weight has been listed anywhere from 210 to 170lbs, and it's probably closer to the low end of that range.

Early in his career evaluators were waiting for power to appear as his body matured, but the missed development time put an understandable damper on that.

Martinez is roughly the same age as Brett Eibner. I think I'd take Martinez over Eibner at this point, as Martinez is the better hitter despite less power.

Like Eibner and Balbino Fuenmayor, Martinez isn't likely anything more than a AAAA player or org depth. Of course, sometimes those guys can have a brief impact on the team (Paulo Orlando), but they rarely turn out to be solid players for extended periods of time (the J.D. Martinezes are the exceptions).

It's pretty unlikely any of the two guys above get added to the 40-man at this point as their everyday future roles are in doubt, but who knows right?

If I missed a guy or two, please feel free to yell at me in the comments.