Oakland Athletics: September Call-ups Who Can Help With Playoff Push
Oakland Athletics: September Call-ups Who Can Help Team Reach Playoffs
Sonny Gray, the top selection by the Oakland Athletics in the 2011 MLB draft, has already been inserted into the big league rotation. Grant Green, who was drafted first overall in the 2009 draft was flipped to the Los Angeles Angels in return for utility man Alberto Callaspo.
Suddenly, the upper levels of the Minor League system are looking unusually barren for the Athletics.
The team would love to add another bat, but as the recent recall of defensive standout Daric Barton demonstrates—that extra offense may or may not be found in the minors. Then again, Barton promptly produced two RBI in his first game
With the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats' streak of six straight playoff appearances in serious jeopardy, the Athletics could be getting their September reinforcements a little bit earlier than usual. Perhaps as soon as September 3, the day after the regular season ends for the River Cats.
Last year, the team added players 11 in total, making the additions in waves, with the first group arriving in Oakland on September 1. The team ended up either activating or bringing up six pitchers and five position players, although one of the position players (Brandon Inge) ultimately returned to the DL.
Just who will get called up this year?
If a player hasn't forced his way into the Athletics less than inspiring lineup by this point in the season, it's unlikely to happen in the final weeks of the season. That's not to say that the call-ups can't be influential, just that the impact is likely to be felt as a defensive replacement, pinch hitter/runner or as an extra bullpen arm.
Here's a list of Minor League players who can help the Athletics make the final playoff push, and also a few Sacramento standouts who might just get left out.
7. Extra Arms
Last September, the Athletics added six pitchers between DL activations and call-ups. This year the activations of Bartolo Colon and Brett Anderson will likely come before September 1, so guys like Dan Straily and Tommy Milone could actually end up as call-ups depending on the situation.
As far as River Cats pitchers go, closer Brian Gordon would seem to be an obvious choice. Gordon has a 3.81 ERA with 20 saves and 62 strikeouts in 59 innings. One downside for Gordon, though, is that he's not already on the 40-man roster like Hideki Okajima is. The veteran lefty could get the call as he has enjoiyed a strong season for the River Cats posting a 3.32 ERA. However, the team appears to be less than thrilled with his performance as he has been left to languish in the Minors. One or two other top performers from the Sacramento bullpen could get rewarded with a September cameo. Righ-hander Kyler Newby, who was drafted in the 50th and final round of the 2004 draft, could be a dark-horse candidate.
6. Derek Norris
Derek Norris is out with a broken big left toe, but the catcher is eligible to be activated on September 5. If his toes is healthy, the Athletics will find a way to work Norris, who's hitting .345 (19-for-55) since July 1 back into the rotation.
5. Michael Choice
Michael Choice, who played in the Futures Game in 2012, and who cracked 30 home runs in 2011, is having a solid debut season for Triple-A Sacramento. The 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft is hitting .300 with 27 doubles, 14 home runs and and .830 OPS. Despite the on-going offensive struggles of the big club, the Athletics have yet to pull up the top prospect. That's perhaps partially due to a desire not to rush his development, but also suggests that the 23-year-old hasn't done quite enough to force the hand of GM Billy Beane.
4. Shane Peterson or Michael Taylor
Shane Peterson probably should have made the team out of spring training with his seven doubles and .408 average, but he was blocked by veterans like Seth Smith and Chris Young. The left-hander hitter, who can play all three spots of the outfield as well as first base, is hitting just .260, but's he been hot as of late. In August, he's hitting .354 with eight doubles, four home runs and a 1.026 OPS.
That hot streak might just be enough to get Peterson the call over fellow outfielder Michael Taylor. The 6-foot-5 Taylor has clubbed 17 home runs this year, but it's also his fourth straight season with the River Cats.
3. Andy Parrino
Andy Parrino is hitting just .216 on the season, and .129 in his last 10 games, but the infielder is pretty much a lock to get called up when rosters expand on September 1. Parrino, who actually made the Opening Day roster for the Athletics, is referred to as the “Magician” by Sacramento broadcaster Johnny Doskow for his impressive glove work.
2. Jemile Weeks
Forgotten man Jemile Weeks is quietly having a productive season in Triple-A. He's hitting a respectable .271 with 10 triples, 17 stolen bases and 78 walks, which is the most in the Pacific Coast League aside from Barton. The former top pick has done an excellent job of getting on base (.377 OBP) and utilizing his speed. He's also seen time at shortstop and center field, in addition to second base.
1. Hiro Nakajima
Hiro Nakajima was knocked off the 40-man roster on August 17 despite hitting .291 in Sacramento. The eight-time Japanese League All-Star signed a two-year, $6 million deal in the offseason, but if the Athletics need an extra infield glove Parrino figures to be the guy. If the team wants a pinch runner, Weeks would certainly get the nod. Despite his strong average, Nakajima seems to have been doomed by a lack of power and questionable defense.
However, the team did add four infielders last year, so perhaps there is still a chance that Nakajima will finally make his big-league debut.