September is right around the corner and this is the time of year when teams will give some of their minor league talent a taste of the big leagues. This is more commonly known as the September cup of coffee. There have already been a number of players called up this season. Here’s a rundown of those and some still to come.
Ken Giles – The 23-year-old got the phone call on June 8 and was put in the Philadelphia Phillies’ bullpen. He has appeared in 31 games, pitching 32 2/3 innings, and has performed very well with a 3-1 record, 1.38 ERA and a 47:9 K:BB ratio. His manager, Ryne Sandberg, said he doesn’t foresee the 6’2” right-hander getting a chance to spell closer Jonathan Papelbon for any save chances the remainder of the year but Giles is certainly a strong candidate to inherit the role should something happen with Papelbon next year.
Andrew Heaney – The 23-year-old southpaw of the Miami Marlins was up earlier in the year and started four games. He might as well have stayed in the minor leagues, however, as he was beat up to the tune of three losses in those starts without a win and surrendered 15 earned runs, 24 hits (including an astonishing five home runs) and six walks in only 20 2/3 innings and was sent back to Triple-A New Orleans. Heaney is still a good prospect and should be back up again in September. Just keep in mind that many times, left-handed pitchers don’t come of Major League age until later in their career.
Oscar Taveras – One of the top prospects of the St. Louis Cardinals coming into 2014, the 22-year-old has been up and down between the Minors and the parent club this year. He has played in 56 games, garnering 180 at-bats, but hasn’t lived up to his hype and minor league play. His average currently sits at .233 with only nine extra base hits, including two home runs. While the results haven’t been there, Taveras is still to be considered a top talent for years to come.
Gregory Polanco – One of the most anticipated call-ups of 2014 came on June 10 when the Pittsburgh Pirates reached out to Triple-A Indianapolis for the 22-year-old outfielder. Polanco has been hot and cold in his big league time. He hit safely in his first 11 games, had a stretch of 35 at-bats with only three hits in mid-July in which his batting average dropped below .250, went 18-for-50 in early August getting his average back up to nearly .270, then managed only one hit in his last 30 at-bats. Polanco was sent back to Indianapolis when the Pirates recalled Jose Tabata but will most likely return to Pittsburgh when big league rosters expand in September.
Javier Baez – One of a number of blue chip prospects of the Chicago Cubs, Baez was brought up from Triple-A Iowa in early-August, and the 21-year-old middle infielder has certainly flashed a great amount of power for his position with seven home runs in only 86 at-bats. As pretty as that looks, the flip side is just as ugly with a .198 average, .233 OBP and a whopping 40 strikeouts against only four bases on balls. Despite this, he still remains a high-end talent. Let’s hope he goes the way of Jeff Kent instead of Dan Uggla.
Jorge Soler – Another of the Cubs’ top minor league talents, Soler just got the call up this Wednesday. In 151 career minor league games, the 21-year-old has 28 home runs and 17 stolen bases, although none of the swipes have come in 2014. In his debut, the right fielder was slotted fifth in the batting order and went 2-for-4 with a home run in his first big league at-bat, which came in the Great American Smallpark. It was déjà vu all over again as Starlin Castro also homered in his first at-bat, also in Cincinnati.
Joc Pederson – A very talented outfielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, Pederson will probably get a look of what the view is like from a major league dugout in September after a 30/30 (33/30 to be exact) season this year in Triple-A Albuquerque – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in eight decades. Manager Don Mattingly, while admitting the 22-year-old will get a taste of playing in Los Angeles, said he wouldn’t get regular playing time.
Archie Bradley – The gem of the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system, Bradley has only appeared in 17 minor league games over three levels due to missing about two months with an elbow injury. The big right-hander has a 9.5 K/9 over his minor league career and should be the cornerstone of the Diamondbacks team for as long as they want to pay him. The 22-year-old could see some action this year, especially if Arizona wants to sell a bunch more tickets.
Kris Bryant – In case you needed more evidence the Chicago Cubs’ farm system was pretty darn good, here’s Kris Bryant, a 22-year-old third baseman. Between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, all the big (6’5”, 215 pounds) Bryant has done is hit at a .329 clip with 43 home runs and 15 stolen bases. In other words, he picked right up where he left off as the MVP of the Arizona Fall League. There isn’t much at all left for him to prove in the Minors, so expect to see him up in Wrigley with the aforementioned Baez and Soler. The future is certainly very bright for the Cubbies.These are only a handful of the prospects we’ll likely see up with major league teams this September. Personally, it’s one of my favorite times of the season as I – along with many other fans – look forward to seeing the next generation of Major League stars, some of whom are already on my teams in keeper leagues.