Unconventional Wisdom: Call-ups worth keeping an eye on
September 1 is the day that rosters expanded from 25 to 40, and hundreds of players from the minors get the call to spend the final month of the season in the big leagues. While plenty of top prospects won't get that call because such a move requires placement on the 40-man, there have still been many interesting names -- both new and old -- on the transaction wire over the last 48 hours, and here are ten story lines of note.
Getz is one of those guys who scouts warm up to slowly. He's not especially big, nor is he much of an athlete, but he knows how to play baseball. Coming off of a .302/.366/.448 year at Triple-A Charlotte, Getz makes consistent hard contact, works the count well, can run a little, and displays excellent fundamentals. That, and his ability to play on the left side of the infield in a pinch, could give the White Sox some additional playoff flexibility should they choose to keep him on their post-season roster.
A native of Hawaii, Ka'aihue entered the year as no more than an organizational player. He'd spent six years in the Royals system, repeated a pair of levels, and has career averages of .252/.368/.415. This season, beginning his third year at Double-A Ka'aihue exploded, batting .314/.463/.624 for Northwest Arkansas and opening scouts' eyes even more with a .316/.439/.640 performance in 33 games following a promotion to Triple-A that included 11 home runs in 114 at-bats. With 37 home runs, he has displayed game-breaking power, and he also led the minor leagues with 104 walks, making him a consistent on-base threat as well. The one aspect of his game that has talent evaluators suddenly seeing him as a legitimate big-league first baseman is his ability to make contact, as it's hard to find hitters who can slug 37 home runs against only 67 strikeouts. With a good showing this month, he could be in line to take over at first base, giving the Royals an excuse to never again allow
Both Morales and Wood have had plenty of big-league at-bats, and both are coming off of impressive second halves in the Pacific Coast League that should give manager
You can never have enough lefties, but Elbert's call-up was still a big surprise, and a possible indication of post-season consideration. One of the top lefty prospects in the game entering 2007, Elbert pitched just 14 innings last year before undergoing shoulder surgery, and he did not return to the mound until this June. Placed in a bullpen role in order to manage his workload, Elbert flourished, limiting Double-A hitters to a .157 average while striking out 46 in 41 1/3 innings of work. In his last 11 appearances for Jacksonville, he allowed just five hits over 14 1/3 innings while punching out 22. Both his fastball and curve are major league-plus pitches, and in his first two big-league appearances, he whiffed five of the seven batters he faced, while also giving up a home run to Arizona's
Let's work backwards on this one. Last year,
The Athletics have a hoard of young outfielder prospects, but for the most part they've disappointed the organization; toolsy
The son of former big-leaguer Max, Venable took a slow route to the majors, spending more time on the basketball court during his four years at Princeton (where he was an All-Ivy League point guard) than on the baseball field. When he finally decided to devote himself to the sport that had paid his dad enough money to send Will to Princeton, he was already 23 years old, and had yet to play his first full-season league game. He's more than made up for lost time, batting .292/.361/.464 for Triple-A Portland this year to earn a month-long audition as the Padres' everyday center fielder. Venable is one of those players whose greatest strength is a lack of weaknesses; he has no single blow-you-away tool, but he can hit a little, draw some walks, show a modicum of power, and run well. He also has little standing in his way for the starting job next year.
The best part of this story is that Price hasn't even gotten the call yet. On August 31, the Rays recalled
This is really a showcase. That, or
Only 20 years old, Snider was a first-round pick in 2006 who spent all of last year in the Low-A Midwest League. He began this season at High-A Dunedin, and is now finishing it in the majors as he auditions for a full-time job for Opening Day 2009. One of the best pure hitting prospects in the minors, Snider is built like a linebacker and offers patience and power, projecting as a true upper-division middle-of-the-order run producer who should score and drive in 100 runs annually. Some worry that he's being rushed, but he showed the ability to make adjustments against advanced pitching throughout the year, including a .344/.386/.516 line in 18 Triple-A games. This is a future star -- bet the bank on it.