Prospects that could make an impact this September

Posted: August 29, 2013 in by Freddy Berowski

September is that special time of year, that time where Major League Baseball teams can expand their rosters from 25 to 40 players.  Extra bodies to give a guy on a  run away contender a break, or maybe a few guys try their hand for a Major League club that is way out of contention so that club can see what they have for next season and beyond.  Or perhaps some players are getting their moment in the show, maybe as a reward for a good minor league campaign.  There are also those teams that are in the thick of a pennant race, looking to get that extra edge and maybe win an extra game or two that could make all the difference between playing on and going home, come September 29.  Those are the players we are focusing on today.

 

Cincinnati Reds- Billy Hamilton (cf)

The Reds are in a dog fight for the National League Central with Pittsburgh and St. Louis.  Currently 3.5 games behind the Cardinals for first, and 3 games behind the Pirates for the second wild card, the Reds need a spark that can help close the gap.  The Wild Card is a consolation prize known, but no team wants to find themselves in a one and done scenario so the division is what all teams strive for.  Billy Hamilton brings a couple of Major League ready tools to the table that might be able to mean a couple of games in the standings in September.  We all remember what Dave Roberts did on the base paths for the Red Sox in October of 2004, and for a team that is as bereft of speed as the Reds are, I’m sure there will be several opportunities, especially late in games, for Hamilton’s speed to be a factor.  In addition, Shin Soo Choo, a guy with a very good slash line, is not a good defender in centerfield.  Hamilton would make the perfect caddy in late innings that would allow the Reds to shift Choo to a corner.  Hamilton’s glove and elite speed would make him a factor in this year’s NL Central race.

 

Oakland Athletics- Michael Choice (of)

Coming into today, the A’s sit 2.5 games back of the Texas Rangers for the AL West, in what is a two horse race.  And there is no guarantee, that the team that doesn’t finish first will grab a wild card spot, thanks to the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees and Indians, who still remain in the wild card hunt.  On July 31, the A’s had a comfortable lead of 4 games on the Rangers.  In the weeks surrounding the deadline, the Rangers made two impact trades- landing Matt Garza from the Cubs and Alex Rios from the White Sox.  Dealing with injuries to numerous pitchers this season, Garza has been a breath of fresh air for Texas, throwing quality innings and winning 3 games in his first five weeks with the club.  And while Rios bat hasn’t quite lit Arlington on fire yet in his 2 and a half weeks in the club, his bat is certainly a welcome presence in the middle of the order.  Oakland didn’t make any upgrades at the deadline, but I think Michael Choice has the skill set, and is ready, to make an impact this September.  The A’s have struggled with their DH slot all season, and Choice’s bat could provide a steady, consistent bat from that spot.  With a slash line of .300/.388/.422 at AAA this season, the 23 year old has proven he has the ability to hit for average and power as well as the ability to take a pitch and work the count and would fit nicely in the 2 or 5 spots in the line-up.

 

Tampa Bay Rays- Tim Beckham (if) and  Mikie Mahtook (of)

Unlike many of the Rays’ division rivals, they often don’t have the cash to make the big money splash in the off-season or at the deadline.  It is scouting and development that has been key to this team’s success, and if they want to catch the Red Sox, they are going to have to bring up a couple of their top prospects this September, as opposed to waiting for next year’s Super-Two deadline.  Extremely poor second half performances by several members of the Rays offense, specifically James Loney, Kelly Johnson, and Luke Scott, have thrown the Rays offense into disarray.  If Tampa Bay wants to avoid a potential one and done scenario on Sept. 30, or worse, now is the time to throw some life into a sagging line-up.  Bringing up Tim Beckham, at age 23 in his third go around at AAA Durham, to play second base and Mikie Mahtook to take some cuts at designated hitter, or spell an outfielder, might just be the moves the Rays need to make.  The call up of Beckham would give the Rays a good defender with plus speed and doubles power, who they could slot right in the line-up, and if he can hit like he has at AAA this season, he could help ignite the stagnant offense.  And, although Mahtook’s power hasn’t developed as yet as the Rays hoped, he’s put smacked 27 doubles and stolen 25 bases so far at AA Montgomery, and should be able to take enough pitches to have a respectable slash line, while using his running game, as part of a platoon with Luke Scott.

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