Baseball’s youth revolution and league-wide sabermetric slant have drastically eliminated the value of the September call-up. Teams no longer wait until Sept. 1 to bring players up from the minor leagues to get their feet wet at the major-league level. If they’re ready, they’re ready. That said, there are still some prospects who will play a big role this month.
Chicago Cubs — Jeimer Candelario
The No. 3 prospect in the Cubs’ system, Candelario is a switch-hitter and corner infielder who can spell the Cubs’ two big hitters down the stretch and provide some solid pinch-hit at-bats. Catcher Kyle Schwarber had hinted at a comeback this season — he tore his ACL on April 7 — but that move has no chance of happening.
Toronto Blue Jays - Dalton Pompey
He’s made an impact at the major-league level as a pinch runner in the postseason, but Toronto’s starting center fielder of the future can’t hang out in the minor leagues anymore — he’s put up a .347 on-base percentage at Triple-A Buffalo. He’ll get the call for his base-running ability, but he might win himself a starting job going into the 2017 season.
Cleveland Indians - Bradley Zimmer
Michael Brantley isn’t coming back this season, so the Indians are going to need some help in the outfield, even after acquiring Coco Crisp. Who better to fill the role than the team’s No. 1 prospect? Zimmer hasn’t hit the cover off the ball at the Triple-A level, but he has posted a slash line of .254/.370/.431 in the minors this season.
Los Angeles Dodgers - Jose De Leon
The Dodgers’ right-handed ace prospect has a really good chance to be part of their starting rotation next year, but he could get a head start on a team that’s been scrapping together starting pitching for most of the season. His 0.938 WHIP and 2.61 ERA at Triple-A is more than deserving of a call-up, and with fewer than 90 innings pitched this year, there shouldn’t be a concern about extending his season.
Washington Nationals - Reynaldo Lopez
Just what the Nationals need, another young, nasty starting pitcher. Lopez has already had a stint with the Nats this year and could be used as a spot starter down the stretch. With his 96-mph fastball and wicked curveball, there’s also a chance that Lopez could be used out of the bullpen.
New York Mets - Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo
Nimmo played 20 games for the Mets earlier this year, but was sent back down to Triple-A Las Vegas Aug. 10. Two days later, Conforto was sent down as well. Both outfielders have been raking in the PCL and call-ups seem inevitable.
Kansas City Royals - Hunter Dozier
The Royals have made it work despite a terrible stretch of luck with injuries this year because of young players making the most of the opportunities given to them — for instance, Cheslor Cuthbert, who has thrived since taking over at third base for the injured Mike Moustakas. No one is going to knock Cuthbert out of that starting job, but the Royals might want to give him a few days off and get 2013 first-round pick Hunter Dozier into the lineup in September. Dozier is batting .297 with a .871 OPS at Triple-A Omaha, and while he’s not currently on the 40-man roster, the Royals could make a move to get his bat in the majors.
Seattle Mariners - Dan Vogelbach
Acquired from the Cubs at the nonwaiver trade deadline, Vogelbach started his Mariners career slowly. But the power hitter has really turned it around, posting a .404 on-base percentage with a .420 slugging percentage at Triple-A. With Adam Lind struggling and Nelson Cruz reluctant to play the field, Vogelbach, Seattle’s No. 7 prospect, has a real shot to get strong playing time should he get called up.
Texas Rangers - Joey Gallo
The legend of the power-hitting lefty who puts the lights in right field on notice precedes Gallo, but it might be justified. Even if only a pinch hitter late in games, the Rangers could use baseball's No. 10 prospect, especially considering his 25 homers and .921 OPS in 96 games at Triple-A this season.
Boston Red Sox - Yoan Moncada
It’s time. The No. 7 prospect in baseball has clearly graduated from the minor leagues (.285/.388/.547 at Double-A) and is going to play for the Red Sox. Boston is platooning Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill at third base, but Moncada can provide that “it” factor that’s been missing at the hot corner. Worst-case scenario, he’s used as a speed threat down the stretch — he has stolen 45 bases in 105 games this season.