Gambling on Prospects: September Pitcher Call Ups

This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:

  1. Hold ’em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto and/or monitoring.
  2. Fold ’em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
  3. Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
  4. Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect.

Last week I looked at some hitters to expect in September; today it’s the pitchers. With less than a week remaining in August, below are some players to target now that may be able to help your team in the stretch run. While these pitchers will be taken in any keeper/dynasty leagues,

I’m expecting the following players to have an impact this season:

Archie Bradley: Almost five months have passed since I recommended Bradley over Noah Syndergaard for 2014. While neither will accumulate the major league time I expected, I will probably still have called it right. With Chase Anderson hitting the proverbial wall (and hard), adding Bradley to the Diamondbacks rotation in September makes a lot of sense. In fact, Kirk Gibson last week hinted at a 6 man rotation in the season’s final month. While this season can be considered a lost one for Bradley, having missed 2 months with an elbow strain, getting 4 or 5 big league starts under his belt would go a long way towards opening the 2015 with a rotation spot. The control has been shaky, but the velocity has come back. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 5 GS, 25 IP, 24 H, 10 ER, 10 BB, 19 K

Carlos Rodon: When Rodon pitched in Charlotte on Tuesday night, the place sold out as fans likely knew he wouldn’t be in AAA long; even if it was his first start there. Rodon  has a plus fastball, an outstanding slider and a change-up that can be really, really good. It all adds up to a front line pitcher and one that can succeed at the highest level now. Recommendation: Run. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 4 GS, 19 IP, 14 H, 6 ER, 8 BB, 18 K

Matt Wisler: Sometimes a 4.91 ERA in AAA isn’t a hindrance to a promotion or to future big league success; with Matt Wisler that is the case. Over the past month, Wisler has thrown 37.2 innings and allowed just 7 walks to go with 35 strike outs. Wisler is not on the 40 man roster for the Padres, but with his control and 4 pitch repertoire, pitching in Petco will be a welcome change from the hitting-friendly PCL. At 136 innings, Wisler has merely matched his output from 2012 so I suspect they’d like to get him some action in September. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 3 GS, 17 IP, 18 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 13K

Daniel Norris: I don’t think there is a pitcher in the minor leagues who has upped his stock more in 2014 than Daniel Norris. His combined line of 12-2 2.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 157 K in 118.2 IP is misleading in that he’s actually gotten better each level he’s been promoted to. In three AAA starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA with 32 K, 4 BB and just 6 H in 16.2 IP. With 120 innings logged already this year, Norris is already 30 above his previous high meaning any promotion this year will probably put him in the Jays bullpen. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 GS, 8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K

Nick Kingham: Opposing hitters are batting .196 against Kingham in AAA this year. Combine this with a 6.8% BB rate and it’s easy to understand why fans would like to see Kingham in Pittsburgh. In his last two starts he has thrown 15 innings and allowed just 7 hits, adding fuel to the proverbial fire. What Kingham won’t give in strikeouts (18% K rate), he should more than make up for in his ratios, making him a good #3. With Charlie Morton on the DL, the deep Pirates rotation becomes just a group of five once more, possibly opening the door for the team to get a look. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 3 GS, 18 IP, 18 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 10 K

Alex Meyer: There’s no question about Meyer’s ability to succeed in the majors, but Terry Ryan said “I don’t know” when asked if it would be in 2014.

With a 28% K rate, this first round pick from 2011 has done everything he’s needed to this season to secure his prospect status. He may have done a little too much of it though as his innings will approach 130-135, which is 30 more than his highest total in 2012. I expect the Twins to be careful with the top pitching prospect. Recommendation: Fold ‘Em (for 2014). Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 GS, 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Matt Barnes: In the past month, Barnes has really saved his season with some stellar numbers: 38.2 IP, 20 H, 13 BB, 32 K and a 1.63 ERA. He is flashing a high 90s fast ball and starting to live up to his top 100 prospect status heading in to 2013 and 2014. With the Red Sox looking ahead with Workman, De la Rosa and Webster currently in the rotation, it makes sense to see what Barnes can bring to the table. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 4 GS, 21 IP, 20 H, 9 ER, 9 BB, 14 K

I don’t believe it will happen this season:

Dylan Bundy: Sent to the DL last week with a right lat muscle strain, Bundy after his return from Tommy John surgery, appears to be shut down for the season. As great a story as it would have been for him to contribute to the Orioles playoff schedule, this is too important of an arm to not be careful with. Recommendation: Walk Away (for 2014). Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 GS, 0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Noah Syndergaard: There are many obstacles to Syndergaard seeing the majors this year. One, the Mets already promoted Rafael Montero to replace the injured Jacob deGrom and while he’s pitched well, deGrom has since returned. With Syndergaard anchoring the Las Vegas 51s rotation, they Mets are just as likely to let him hit his innings limit helping them in their playoffs. Besides, Syndergaard said himself that he’s not ready. Recommendation: Walk Away (for 2014). Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 GS, 0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

“This is the first time in my life that I have really struggled,” Syndergaard told the New York Daily News. “I don’t feel like I’m ready quite yet, but if I were to get the call tomorrow, I would find a way to get the job done, somehow.”

Jon Gray: With the Colorado Rockies battling the Texas Rangers for the 1st overall pick in next year’s draft, there is very little incentive to promote Gray. With a power arm and good control, Gray has had some success this year with Tulsa though he has been far from dominating. His K rate of 22% and his BB rate of 8%, while okay, haven’t screamed out for promotion. On Wednesday, Gray lasted just 2 innings, throwing 68 pitches while allowing 5 hits. I think any chance of a call up disappeared with that outing. He’s just not ready. Recommendation: Walk Away (for 2014). Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 GS, 0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

The guy I want to see:

Henry Owens: The top pitching prospect for the Boston Red Sox, Owens has started 4 games for AAA, but is approaching the end of the line for his innings this year. With a mid 90s fast ball, plus curve and change, he is going to be a fun one to watch, but it won’t be this year. Red Sox fans have a lot to be excited about; to me, Owens might be at the top of the list (well…. Xander is still at the top for me). Recommendation: Walk Away (for 2014). Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 GS, 0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Don’t forget about me:

While these guys have already seen time in the majors this year, I didn’t include them as potential “September call-ups”. While the new names are often the most exciting, some of these may potentially bring the greatest reward:

Taijuan Walker, Andrew Heaney


 If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right.


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Paul Hartman

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Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.