On Saturday, the Royals can begin expanding rosters and calling up players from the minors to invite them on this sinking ship of a season. You can read all you need to know about September callups here. The minor league seasons for Omaha and Northwest Arkansas ends on Monday, September 3, so you may not see some callups until after they have concluded their seasons.
Who gets called up will depend upon a few things, minor league performance, whether or not the club feels the player can handle a promotion at this time, and 40-man roster considerations. Service time considerations can also be a factor, although the Royals have traditionally shunned gaming service time and a September callup can be offset by calling a player up later in 2019 anyway.
So who should Royals fans expect to see join the roster in September?
Some familiar faces should return this weekend, back from injury. Brian Goodwin is already on rehab assignment and will join the club this weekend. Jorge Soler will likely join the club next week after a short rehab. Ian Kennedy had a rehab start in Omaha last night and could join the Royals soon. As for the other injured players, it doesn’t sound like Cheslor Cuthbert, Nate Karns, Jesse Hahn, Eric Skoglund, or Bubba Starling (who could be moved to the 60-day disabled list) will return this year. The 40-man roster currently has one open spot, although it will probably be used when Jorge Soler is activated from the 60-day disabled list.
Players on the 40-man roster who will likely get called up
Jason Adam suffered from the longball, but has shown flashes of excellence and has 37 strikeouts in 32 1⁄3 innings this year. He showed frustration in his last outing before being demoted earlier this month, but he has a chance to a significant part of next year’s bullpen and the club would likely want to get a long look at him in September.
Cam Gallagher will almost certainly be called up as a third catcher, giving him an inside track to be the backup catcher next year if Drew Butera departs via free agency.
Trevor Oaks had a taste of Major League action and was Omaha’s best pitcher this year, virtually ensuring a callup. Oaks could get a chance to start, as the Royals will want him to be in the mix for the rotation next spring.
Glenn Sparkman was with the club just a week ago and while he had mixed results, he should be back up in September.
Ramon Torres is a good glove man and would give the Royals some added depth in the infield if they want to move guys around.
Other players on the 40-man roster
Scott Barlow has looked pretty good in limited action for the Royals this year, with 15 strikeouts in 15 innings, but he missed a month due to injury and was rocked in his first outing back with Omaha, which may put a September callup in doubt.
Kelvin Gutierrez was solid this year, but the third baseman acquired from the Nationals in the Kelvin Herrera deal didn’t put up eye-popping numbers. The Royals may want to bring him up to see his defense and see if they can work on unleashing his power, but it is not a given they will bring him all the way up from AA to the big leagues.
Andres Machado got a September callup last year and was briefly up this year as a 26th man for a doubleheader, although he didn’t get into a game. However he had a rough year after being promoted to Omaha, giving up 33 runs in 25 innings. He was better in AA Northwest Arkansas, but at age 25, he might be designated for assignment to make room for others.
Paulo Orlando became a fan favorite for his triples but has hit just .182/.209/.250 in 183 MLB plate appearances over the last two seasons. He’ll turn 33 in November, so there isn’t much of a future left with the Brazilian outfielder.
Bubba Starling seemed to be out for the year after disclocating his finger, but he has been rehabbing suggesting a return soon, with perhaps a Major League debut for the former first-round pick. He could also be moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for someone else to be added in September.
Eric Stout was up earlier with the Royals, but was lit up and didn’t fare well after he was demoted back to Omaha. He is injured, which hurts his chances of being in the big leagues next month.
Not on the 40-man roster
Richard Lovelady has been darn near unhittable the last two months, giving up just five earned runs in 38 2/3 innings over his last 22 outings, with opponents hitting just .167/.207/.205 against him. Overall he has a 2.55 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 70 2⁄3 innings and seems well-deserving of a callup, but will the team be able to open up a 40-man roster spot to add him?
Nicky Lopez is probably the name most Royals fans are clamoring for this September. The 23-year old infielder has been a sparkplug, hitting .312/388/.428 in 123 games between AA and AAA. He can draw walks, steal bases, and play outstanding defense, but the Royals may want to hold off on adding him to the 40-man roster before next spring so they can keep that spot open for someone else that needs to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.
Frank Schwindel isn’t having quite the season he had last year in Omaha, but he has actually improved his walk numbers considerably, cutting down his strikeout rate as well. He still hits for a good amount of power, slamming 24 home runs in 127 games. The Royals might want to at least get a look at what Schwindel can do at the Major League level, and MLB beat writer Jeffrey Flanagan seems convinced he will get the call. The trade of Lucas Duda certainly provides an opportunity for playing time that might not have been there had the veteran remained on the roster.
Josh Staumont needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter, so the Royals may go ahead and send him to the big leagues now. Staumont has Major League velocity, throwing 100 mph, but has yet to show he can throw strikes anywhere near a consistent basis. Perhaps being under MLB coaching can help his development, and if nothing else it may be exciting seeing him light up radar guns at Kauffman Stadium.
Other possibilities not on the 40-man roster: Donnie Dewees had an underwhelming season in Omaha, hitting .250/.304/.379, and the Royals outfield has suddenly become pretty crowded. Arnaldo Hernandez began the year in Wilmington so it seems unlikely he would skyrocket all the way to the big leagues, particularly with mediocre numbers, but he did hold his own in Omaha. Elier Hernandez has showed good tools, and finally put up good numbers, batting .318 for Omaha, although without any power. Jake Kalish has underwhelming velocity and is 27 years old but walked just 20 hitters while striking out 119. Jonathan Dziedzic is another 27-year old for Omaha who had a solid season, although with just 6.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings.