For the prospect hunter, the keeper leaguer looking to grab and stash in particular, September 1st is almost a holiday. To commemorate this “holiday”, we’ll take a look at some of the key call-ups to target at your next transaction deadline, and for those in re-draft leagues, we’ll note whether any of these guys will actually do more than ride the pine as they acclimate to the major league lifestyle.
Dalton Pompey was a favorite of many heading into 2015 for his speed and on-base skills, but he simply wasn’t ready for prime time. Instead, he has spent time at Double-A and Triple-A, showing many of the skills that got him to the Majors in the first place, which include plus speed, gap power, and an ability to make contact. Pompey dominated Double-A, batting over .350 and while he didn’t show as much power, his plate discipline was exemplary in Triple-A, walking 12% of the time and striking out 14% while stealing 16 bases and 23 overall for the season. He may not play much down the stretch for the Jays, but he was inserted as a pinch runner in his first game back and stole two bases. He could make the postseason roster on that basis and should once again be in competition for a starting job next spring.
Moving on to a former Jay, we come to Miguel Castro. Castro was briefly a closer with the Jays this year. Like Pompey, he was moved to the Majors too rapidly, having only pitched as high as A+ ball in 2014. The Rockies used him exclusively as a reliever after acquiring him and he’ll likely remain in that role for the rest of the year, pitching sparingly. At 20 years of age, the Rockies would be wise, given that he has the makings of at least two plus MLB pitches and a possible average slider, to move him back to the rotation at the Double-A level. He is young enough to still have middle of the rotation potential, or he could be a late inning reliever in time.
Zach Davies is not a high-end arm, but the Brewers acquired him nevertheless from the Orioles at the trade deadline and are inserting him into the rotation, making him worthy of note for NL-only keeper leaguers. The 22-year-old has an excellent changeup and uses that as his primary weapon while he spots an average fastball with good sink and a curve. There’s enough here to be a possible #3 to #4 starter.
I’ve written of Hector Olivera several times this season already, but I’d be remiss not to include him in this article considering this rookie is a 30-year-old, MLB ready hitter who can make contact over 90% of the time and who is moving immediately into the Braves everyday lineup at third base. Olivera’s bat profiles better for second base long-term as a possible 15-15 HR/SB hitter who can also hit for average and has flashed the discipline to hit near the top of the lineup. Olivera has yet to show what he can do at any one level for an extended period, so we don’t really have a good sample. However, his role makes him a must grab and his experience in International Play suggests a quick transition to the Majors is quite possible.
The Cubs are going to give young slugger, Javier Baez, another chance, inserting him back at second base over Starlin Castro, at least for now. After racking up prolific strikeout rates in the Minors and Majors in 2014, Baez found himself banished to the Minors this year. The results have been mostly positive, as he has pounded 13 homers to go along with 17 steals, a .324 batting average and a slugging percentage over .500 in addition to cutting his strikeout rate. However, Baez still strikes out close to a quarter of the time and has done nothing to reign in his aggressiveness. Expect streakiness. At 22 years of age, he still has time to keep working on his game, though he could be on the Quad-A player path. If you’re in for this year and need some pop, you might get lucky and catch a hot streak.
Steven Matz had an impressive debut before missing over a month of the season due to a torn lat muscle. Fortunately, it was not an arm or elbow injury and all systems are go for Matz, who will rejoin the rotation on Saturday. The Mets will be utilizing a 6-man rotation for the remainder of the season, which could be a good thing considering the innings piling up on all those young arms. Matz has upper end of the rotation potential, featuring a mid-nineties fastball, plus curve, and a solid changeup, all of which he can throw consistently for strikes. He’s likely owned in just about every NL-only keeper league but could be an interesting pick-up in some mixed league formats.
Royals right-hander Miguel Almonte is now at his third level of play this season after beginning the year in Double-A, where he made 17 starts. The 22-year-old has an interesting arsenal, blessed with a mid to upper nineties fastball and a plus changeup. The righty’s command of his pitches, however, leaves something to be desired as does the development of his curve, which is still very much a work in progress. Still, for those looking for an upside/keeper play, Almonte is worth a chance in AL-only formats.
And last, but not least, we come to Terrance Gore. The 5’7” 24-year-old outfielder has excellent speed, swiping 39 bags in Double-A this season, and has been caught just twice. Other than his speed and stolen base success, Gore leaves a lot to be desired as he is devoid of power and is far from a contact hitter, striking out close to 20% of the time in Double-A. He’ll be used as a pinch runner and it should be noted that he stole five bases in 11 games with the Royals late last season. If you’re looking for an output like that in AL-only formats and have an open roster spot, he’s your guy.