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September 1, 2005

Fantasy Focus

AL Call-Ups

by Randy Hale

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First off, big thanks to the entire RotoWire Baseball Writers Staff for the thoughtful review and input provided in the work that went into this series of articles.

Part One of this article, focused on NL Call-up, provided a more detailed commentary on the evaluation and ranking process.

Here are a few highlights as a quick recap:

The level of attention a September call-up gets is based on three primary criteria:

  • Are they skilled enough to make an impact?
  • Will they play enough to make an impact?
  • Are they a high-end prospect on the verge of a major role next season?
The ideal September call-up is a player who falls into all three categories. As for the first criteria, this can occur in a few different situations:
  • A team with a solid lead in the standings may rest many regulars down the stretch
  • A trial audition for a major role for next season
  • Use of a specialized skill set, such as using a speedster frequently to pinch-run (as mentioned yesterday, look no further than Esix Snead in 2002: 17 games, 13 ABs, 4 SB)
We've provided two lists in this piece: one based on keeper potential, and the second based on what numbers the players might put up in the season's last month. Depending on your league's structure and your place in the standings, players will have different value to you, so use each list accordingly. The information itself is derived from analyzing minor league production and trends, each MLB team's 40-man rosters, and the role needs of each MLB team.

Keeper Potential:

  1. Delmon Young, OF, TB - If you are reading this then you already know all about Delmon Young. If he's not already on a roster in your league, pounce on him if he gets called up. Right now it's unclear whether the Devil Rays will call him up or not, so be on the watch.

  2. B.J. Upton, SS, TB - See Delmon Young

  3. Hanley Ramirez, 2B/SS, BOS - The Red Sox top prospect has speed, decent plate discipline and is expected to add more power as he develops. If he gets the call grab and stash him.

  4. Daric Barton, 1B, OAK - One of the top offensive prospects in all the minors, but the Athletics have already stated that they do not intend to call him up. Still, he's so good he warrants a high spot on this list.

  5. Nick Markakis, OF, BAL - Still a little young and likely not ready for a regular job before late 2006, Markakis may get a 'reward' call-up after posting a 1.069 OPS in 86 Double-A at-bats since his promotion on 8/1.

  6. Justin Verlander, P, DET - A 0.28 ERA, 0.55 WHIP and 32/7 K/BB ratio in 32.2 Double-A innings give a little indication as to the potential here. Poised to be a productive starter as early as 2006.

  7. Brandon Moss, OF, BOS - Not quite ready for prime-time yet, but has posted streaks of major power with solid plate discipline. Now he just needs to start lengthening those streaks and increasing their frequency.

  8. Billy Butler, OF, KC - Likely ready for a full-time job before 2006 is over. Has great power and has hit for average as well.

  9. Franklin Gutierrez, OF, CLE - It may not be too late to polish up the shine on his star. He's shown flashes of major power, but has not progressed significantly in developing his plate discipline.

  10. Chris Young, OF, CWS - Young has an impressive set of physical tools, and has made strides this year converting those tools into skills. He still strikes out a lot (more than once a game) and will need a full dose of Triple-A, but he has a very high physical ceiling, and has done well in Double-A at age 21.

  11. Justin Huber, 1B, KC - There is a good chance that Huber will open 2006 with the major league team, splitting 1B/DH duty with Mike Sweeney. He is very similar to Sweeney as a hitter.

  12. Brandon Wood, SS, LAA - Wood was the prize shortstop in the 2003 draft and his bat projects as a serious plus at an offensively bereft position. A call-up isn't too likely, but he still warrants mention.

Honorable mention goes to Joaquin Arias, SS, TEX; Yorman Bazardo, P, SEA; Melky Cabrera, OF, NYY; Shin-Soo Choo, OF, SEA; Juan Cruz, P, OAK; Thomas Diamond, P, TEX; Jeff Fiorentino, OF, BAL; Jesse Foppert, P, SEA; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, TEX; Howie Kendrick, 3B, LAA; Ian Kinsler, 3B, TEX; Francisco Liriano, P, MIN; Kendry Morales, OF, LAA; Casey Rogowski, 1B, CWS; Anibal Sanchez, P, BOS; Jeremy Sowers, P, CLE; Kevin Thompson, OF, NYY; Jered Weaver, P, LAA; Kevin Youkilis, 3B, BOS; Chris Young, OF, CWS; Joel Zumaya, P, DET.

Impact:

  1. B.J. Upton, SS, TB - If he gets the call, he can provide a meaningful impact down the stretch with even moderate playing time.

  2. Delmon Young, OF, TB - See B.J. Upton

  3. Juan Cruz, P, OAK - Need strikeouts? Look no further. Cruz has been unreal with Triple-A Sacramento posting a 2.65 ERA, 1.088 WHIP and 87/27 K/BB ratio in 68 innings.

  4. Justin Verlander, P, DET - See keeper comments above. Potential help in strikeouts at a minimum.

  5. Jesse Foppert, P, SEA - Foppert is well past the typical Tommy John recovery period and has shown flashed of brilliance in the minors with a K/9 rate approaching 9.00, but he still needs to get his walk rate under control.

  6. Francisco Liriano, P, MIN - In 86 innings since his mid-summer promotion to Triple-A Rochester, Liriano has posted a 1.67 ERA, 0.849 WHIP and 102/22 K/BB ratio. He's ready to contribute in Minnesota.

  7. Justin Huber, 1B, KC - The Royals should give Huber solid 'break-in' playing time to prepare for regular duty in 2006.

  8. Jason Botts, 1B, TEX - Look for the Rangers to give Botts enough at-bats to prove himself in an effort to up his value on the trade market.

  9. Daric Barton, 1B, OAK - It's a big question whether Barton gets called up or not, but if he does, look for him to get semi-regular at-bats to try to jump start the A's offense.

  10. Jason DuBois, OF, CLE - Should see enough playing time to help out in runs scored and RBIs.

  11. Jeff Mathis, C, LAA - The power is there. He may find enough at-bats between an occasional start at catcher or DH to make an impact in home runs and RBIs.

  12. Gerald Laird, C, TEX - Has hit well for Triple-A Oklahoma, both for power and average. May see enough at-bats to help out down the stretch run.

Honorable Mention to Scott Baker, P, MIN; Yorman Bazardo, P, SEA; Colter Bean, P, NYY; Melky Cabrera, OF, NYY; Bernie Castro, 2B, BAL; Matt Diaz, OF, KC; Jairo Garcia, P, OAK; Esteban German, 2B, TEX; J.P. Howell, P, KC; Hideo Nomo, P, NYY; Jerry Owens, OF, CWS; Hayden Penn, P, BAL; Hanley Ramirez, SS, BOS; Kelly Shoppach, C, BOS; Rafael Soriano, P, SEA; Kevin Thompson, OF, NYY; Kevin Youkilis, 3B, BOS; Walter Young, 1B, BAL

Randy Hale is a contributor to Rotowire.

Related Content:  Delmon Young,  J.p. Howell,  The Call-up,  Call-up

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