CHICAGO, August 19, 2013 — With the baseball season beginning to wind down it seems that the playoff picture is becoming clear and that fans know who will be the key players as we move towards the postseason, but this is not necessarily the case. A quick look back shows players like Francisco Rodriguez in 2002, Miguel Cabrera in 2003 and Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007, who came up late in the year and played key roles in pushing their teams towards postseason success.
The rosters have not yet expanded to 40 and there is still even time for trades with players like Adam Dunn, Justin Morneau and Josh Johnson having cleared waivers. Today though, these are some of the prospects that may still have an impact on teams in the playoff hunt. Sorry, Mets fans, Travis D’Arnaud is not going to be here.
Kolten Wong was called up on Friday, so this is cheating a bit, but he provides a solid bat. The Cardinals have relied heavily on recently promoted arms all year with the likes of Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly giving the team a boost, but by calling up Wong, they are showing the amazing depth throughout their farm system.
Wong will likely share time, if not replace, David Freese at third base. Wong can also play second base and should provide a solid bat having produced a .303/.369/.466 line at AAA Memphis. So far, the Cardinals have chosen to use Wong at second and off the bench where he should provide a solid bat as the Cardinals try to chase down the Pirates and hold off the Reds.
The Red Sox called up Xander Bogaerts Monday morning from AAA and he made his major league debut Tuesday night against the Giants. This, again, appears to be cheating by including him, but his potential and possible impact would have landed him on this list regardless.
Bogaerts came into the season highly touted and drawing comparisons to another shortstop the Red Sox developed, Hanley Ramirez. Based on society’s short attention span the comparisons have since shifted to Manny Machado. Bogaerts has posted a .297/.388/.477 line across AA and AAA. Bogaerts could find time at both third base and shortstop as Will Middle brooks has struggled this year and Stephen Drew has a long history of injuries.
Billy Hamilton is fast. The problem this year has been his ability to get on base. After stealing a minor league record 155 bases last year in AA Hamilton has struggled to reach base at AAA for the Reds this year posting a .259/.312/.349 with only 72 steals. The Reds are currently to be the second wild card and Hamilton will likely be up when rosters expand even if Reds manager Dusty Baker uses him only to pinch run. Even if Hamilton does not have to worry about getting on base and just enters games as a pinch runner, his speed will provide excitement and get him accustomed to life in the big leagues.
Nick Castellanos is still in the minors currently at the Tigers AAA affiliate Toledo where he has posted a .275/.346/.441 line. The Tigers still hold a seven game lead in their division and seem to have the division in hand. It may be time to give Castellanos a shot in left field as Andy Dirks has not run away with the job while posting a .245/.314/.347 line. The AAA regular season ends for Toledo on September 2 so the Tigers may leave Castellanos in AAA until then as the rosters expand from 25 to 40 on September 1.
Carlos Martinez has been up and down for the Cardinals this year spending time both in the minors, where he posted a 2.60 ERA and .219 BA allowed, and with the big club, where he has a 6.19 ERA and .302 BA allowed in just 16 innings. While Martinez’ stats in the majors this year are underwhelming, he does have a lively arm. With the back end of the bullpen being handled by Mujica and Rosenthal, Martinez may be able to find a role in the middle innings coming out of the bullpen and help shorten the game for the Cardinals.
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