It’s now September and that means September call-ups are here. Not every call-up is the same, as some are prospects getting their first or second look at the big leagues who could potentially influence a pennant race and then you have veterans and depth pieces up just to help some clubs make it through the final month of a long season.
With the minor league season now over except for the playoffs, this is a good time to look at 10 of the most interesting call-ups across the league.
Abiatal Avelino, INF, Giants
It feels like Avelino was around the Yankees system forever before he was dealt to the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen deal last week. It’s not totally inaccurate as he made his pro debut back in 2012, but this year the longtime utility infielder saw his power take a huge step forward. Prior to this year he had never hit more than six homers in a season, but he’s already got 15 to date between Double and Triple A. He’s a Giants kind of player in that he’s got the ability to do a little of everything while offering great versatility.
Josh James, RHP, Astros
James is a 25 year old former 34th round pick who posted WHIP’s above 1.45 in both 2016 and 2017, but after getting treated for sleep apnea last winter he has been a totally new player. Between Double and Triple A this year he has a 3.23 ERA and 1.12 WHIP to go with a ridiculous 171 strikeouts in just 114.1 innings. He’s held opponents to a .191 batting average against, and in his big league debut he threw a 101.1 MPH fastball to tie for the fastest pitch thrown by a starter all season. With his plus plus fastball and plus slider he may just be scratching the surface.
Kevin Kramer, SS/2B, Pirates
The Pirates took Kramer in the 2nd round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of UCLA, and he hasn’t disappointed. Spending the year in Triple A, he has hit .311/.365/.492 with 35 doubles, 3 triples, 15 homers, and 13 steals. Kramer is a guy who could take second base longterm in Pittsburgh or settle into a valuable utility job.
Yoan Lopez, RHP, Dbacks
Yoan Lopez is the Cuban who ate up the Dbacks international bonus pool despite not being seen as a guy worth a major bonus ($8M). He’s come with his share of struggles, both on the field as he failed as a starter, and off as he intentionally hit then-prospect Dansby Swanson in the face with a pitch when they were teammates and even walked away from the game for a little while. Lopez came back last year and re-invented himself as a successful reliever. He hasn’t been as dominant this year, but recorded a 2.98 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in Double A as he struck out 87 in 61.2 innings. He has all the makings of an impact setup man with a big fastball and a slider he can get swings and misses with and that could be a big help for the Arizona bullpen down the stretch.
Francisco Mejia, C, Padres
Traded by the Indians to the Padres in the Brad Hand deal, Mejia wasn’t having a great season with his .279/.328/.426 line. However the trade seems to have given him a new life and he’s performed like the talented hitter he’s always looked like prior to the first half of the season, posting a line of .328/.364/.582 with seven homers in 31 games- matching the seven he hit in his first 79 games. Mejia still has some questions around his defensive home, but he could be a special hitter for a catcher.
Cionel Perez, LHP, Astros
Perez is a former Cuban star lefty with a plus fastball and advanced pitchability. He’s in the process of moving to the pen to allow the Astros to take advantage of his mid 90s fastball with plenty of sink to generate ground balls. To date he’s made six appearances out of the pen in the big leagues and has racked up the ground balls at a high rate.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays
A former second round pick back in 2015, Reid-Foley has seen his stock rise and fall a few times during his minor league career. The good news for Jays fans is that he’s back on the rise this year after turning in eight great starts in Double A. He’s been more average in 16 Triple A starts, but more than held his own with a 3.90 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. His three big league starts have been up and down, but with a plus fastball and three more pitches that are all average or above he has everything you need to become a #3/4 starter once he makes some adjustments.
Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves
One of the most interesting prospects in the minors because of his combination of stuff and personality as well as his name, Touki Toussaint has finally taken a real step forward with his command this year to give him a chance to remain a starter. It’s no secret that he has one of the best curves in all of baseball plus a fastball that can run up to the upper 90s- though he doesn’t sit in that range in order to control it better, Touki is a strikeout machine with 163 in 136.1 innings in the minors and 10 in his first 10.2 big league innings.
Bryse Wilson, RHP, Braves
Wilson was the Braves fourth round pick out of a North Carolina high school back in 2016, but he has moved faster than anyone ever expected as he’s reached the big leagues just over two years from his last high school game. Wilson has a plus fastball with heavy sink to go with an above average slider and solid average change, but brings pitchability and a bulldog mentality to attack hitters. He struck out 143 in 125.2 innings as he rose from High A to the big leagues this year, but he’s also been able to force ground balls and could be a nice addition to the Braves bullpen down the home stretch. He’s got everything to end up developing into a #3 starter, or a high end reliever.
Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves
The fifth selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, Wright was considered to be the best or second best overall prospect in that draft as an advanced college pitcher with big stuff. He hasn’t disappointed to this point, reaching the big leagues in his first full year. The season hasn’t been exactly as hoped for Wright numbers wise, but he’s made significant progress lately and should help the Braves out of the pen before returning to his starting role next season.
Note that while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. isn’t getting the call to the show this month, his cousin is. Gabby Guerrero, a former Dbacks and Mariners prospect now with the Reds, is set to make his big league debut after just being added to the roster.