Deciding to take a break from year-end reviews for organizations, and write about September call-ups. Here are 12 players to look for in box scores this season, in order of date of call:
1. Chad Cordero (MON)- called up August 29- Cordero became the second player from this season's Amateur Draft to reach the Majors, second to the Reds' Ryan Wagner. The Expos surprised some people with choosing Cordero, but he was a cheap option who could help them this season. So far, Cordero has thrown three innings, allowing a hit, a walk, and no runs. In that time, he has struck out five people.
The team said they would convert Cordero to starting at the end of the season, but there's also a chance he'll become the 2004 closer. In A-ball, Cordero allowed 6 runs in 26.1 innings, striking out 17 during that time. Those numbers need to improve for this to be a successful month, but I think the kid has that type of potential.
2. Johnny Estrada (ATL)- called up August 31- While Estrada didn't win the 2003 IL MVP, he could have, hitting .323/.393/.494 during the season. I don't value this so highly anymore, as I have touted 2001 IL MVP and catcher Toby Hall. I predicted great things from Hall after winning the MVP, but it has yet to materialize. It's hard to tell if the Braves will let Javy Lopez walk and start their switch-hitting catcher, or if they don't believe like me. I guess the next month will decide Estrada's fate.
3. Bobby Crosby (OAK)- called up August 31- The question isn't if Crosby will have his chance next season, as the shortstop job is his. The team can't sign Miguel Tejada, and refused to trade Crosby even when it would have completed a Brian Giles deal. The team is hoping for more of Angel Berroa than Wilson Betemit, and is hoping he'll be more selective than his MVP predecessor. Billy Beane is an overrated GM blessed with good pitching, and the 2004 offense might be the worst yet.
But I should say that Crosby had a great year at AAA, setting his career high with 22 home runs. Overall he hit .308/.395/.544, but still struck out 110 times during the season. He had 24 stolen bases, but the A's don't value that statistic at all. Crosby is a great talent that is definitely a front-runner for the 2004 AL ROY.
4. Jeremy Griffiths (NYM)- called up September 1- Griffiths had a fantastic season at AAA this year, finishing the season 7-6 with a 2.74ERA. He only allowed 94 hits in 115 innings, while walking 26 guys. Griffiths isn't a strikeout pitcher, and strictly relies on his control to get by. Tom Glavine may show the kid a few Greg Maddux pointers, or Major League hitters will make mincemeat of him.
Because despite pitching better than prospect Aaron Heilman, Griffiths isn't guaranteed a starting spot next year. The team will give slots to Glavine, Heilman, Al Leiter, and Steve Trachsel. That leaves Griffiths and Jae Seo, who impressed the team in the first-half. Griffiths needs a fantastic year to get to start next year, but long relief looks the most probable.
5. Felix Sanchez (CHC)- called up September 1- Typically, Dusty Baker doesn't like young players. But of the few he was raving about in Spring Training, Sanchez was one of them. It's unknown where the southpaw's future lies, be it in the bullpen or a starting role. He has the stamina to start, yet the pitches to close. He'll move up to AAA next year, but will likely be highly considered to replace Mark Guthrie in 2004.
Here's Sanchez in '03: 2-2 3.23 57H/64IP 55K/31BB. So he must improve his control, and since I live in Chicago I'll get a first-hand account over the next month. But a youngster must be good to land on Baker's radar, which typically only sees the Shawon Dunstons of the baseball world.
6. Pete LaForest (TB)- called up September 2- I saw LaForest at the Futures Game, and I can tell you this: no one will question his bat. I think his potential is to be a rich man's Matt LeCroy, and even better than failed catchers Rob Fick, Craig Wilson, and Shawn Wooten. He'll either play 1B or DH next season, although I think Travis Lee will be retained.
LaForest had citizenship holdups, and began his season late. He finsihed the year with 201 AB at AAA, but made the most of it. He finsihed hitting .269/.382/.567, with 14HR and 36 walks. That means he'll lead the D-Rays in walks next year, and be battling for Aubrey Huff for the team HR title.
7. Humberto Quintero (SD)- called up September 2- Quintero was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for D'Angelo Jimenez, known for his Gold Glove behind the plate. Before moving to the San Diego franchise, he had struggled to hit the Mendoza Line. But this season was different, when Quintero hit .298/.343/.389. He had only three home runs and 19 walks, but the 26 doubles and 41 strikeouts are good.
Kevin Towers has wanted a catcher for a long time, and the team may pursue Pudge or Javy Lopez. But if Quintero has a great month, he'll allow the team to use the resources on other options. This guy has the potential to be a rich Jose Molina, or like his brother Ben with a better bat and weaker arm.
8. Khalil Greene (SD)- called up September 2- Yes, the Padres should have two good prospects playing everyday this month. But the latter, Greene, is far superior. Greene was the 2002 Golden Spikes Award, given to the best collegiate player. He was drafted 11th overall, and his rise to the Majors has been fast. He struggled at AA, hitting only .275/.327/.406 in 229AB. For some reason, the club decided this was enough for a promotion, and moved him up to the PCL. That was motivation enough for Greene, who turned it up a notch, hitting .288/.346/.442 in 319AB.
Greene is prone to strikeout a lot, and doesn't walk either. He hit only 13 home runs in over 500AB, but 10 of those came in AAA. He doesn't steal bases, and profiles as a #2 hitter good for 20 homers. I'll create a shortstop prospect ranking next week, and he'll undoubtedly hit in the top ten. It's obvious that the B.J. Uptons and J.J. Hardys are superior, but its hard to discern if he has more potential than Jose Lopez. We'll see...
9. Luis Martinez (MIL)- called up September 2- The Brewers have opted not to call up members of their great farm system this year, all except for Martinez. Not mentioned in the same breath as most of the Brewers prospects, Martinez catapulted himself this year, and has a rotation slot next season locked up. After going 8-5 with a 2.89ERA in AA, Martinez went 4-0 with a 0.99ERA in 7 AAA starts. The southpaw's great season should make him the Brewers best pitcher next year, possibly surpassing Ben Sheets. This is the best farm system in baseball, and Martinez is the first of the bunch to hit Miller Park.
10. David DeJesus (KC)- called up September 2- The next great KC outfielder? Could be David DeJesus, who has shown better leadoff skills than Johnny Damon did, and will play center if Carlos Beltran is traded in the offseason. David had a fantastic year playing mostly for AAA:
AAA- .298/.412/.470 5HR-23RBI 34BB/30K 8SB/4CS in 215AB
Those numbers have put DeJesus over Alexis Gomez, a skills-type player. With the walks and the ability to run well, the team sees their future leadoff man in David. The team also has Byron Gettis coming up the ladder, and he's another outfielder to watch out for.
11. Aaron Miles (CHW)- called up September 2- Miles is a short second basemen who will undoubtedly draw comparisons to David Eckstein. He is a little old, but should be entering his peak years in the coming seasons. He was named the International League Rookie of the Year, following being on the Southern League All-Star team. His final numbers were .304/.351/.445, hitting 11 homers in almost 550 AB. He was one of Jerry Manuel's favorite players in Spring Training, and had a very good season.
Baseball Prospectus recently described in their Chicago White Sox PTP that Robbie Alomar hasn't meant as much as he's given credit for, and Ken Williams should recognize that. Miles could handle the job next year, and produce similar, if not improved output. He doesn't run that well, but plays solid defense, draws his walks, and plays his heart out. This kid deserves a chance.
I'll be back tomorrow, and have decided that next week is officially minor league week. Thanks for reading, and come back soon!