8.19.2010

September Calling

The long grind of the major league baseball season is in it's stretch run with labor day drawing closer. Contending teams watch the waiver wire for that last veteran piece to help secure a spot in the post season. The rest of the league? Just playing for pride, which leaves fans less than interested in the September goings on.

But there will be a reason to watch Milwaukee come September, roster expansion. With the team out of contention there should be prospects aplenty in the Crew's dugout this year. For a change, this group of call-ups could feature a look at some of the team's top pitching prospects instead of the hitters seen in recent years.

The Sure Things

Carlos Villanueva - RP - Almost forgot he was still on the Brewers didn't you? Villa can help the team, if only to eat innings. He's pitched in six games since his demotion, sporting a 3.86 ERA. Boring, but he'll be back.

Mat Gamel - 3B/RF/1B - The third baseman/first baseman/right fielder had better be promoted. He's hit .319 with a .394 OBP and sits second on the team with 59 RBIs despite only playing in 71 games. Not to mention the fact that he could be the opening day first baseman in 2011.

Carlos Gomez - CF - That the Brewers are considering burning one of Gomez two remaining option years to keep him in the minors until rosters expand tells you how unimpressive he has been this season. He'll be with the big club before the season is up, it's just a matter of whether or not that is before the September expansion.

Mitch Stetter - RP - He certainly hasn't pitched well at all this year, a 7.50 ERA in the minors and a 14.73 ERA in the minors, which is precisely why he should get a call-up this September. Bring Stetter up to see if he can be effective in the big leagues at all, if he can he stays on the 40-man and gets a chance to win a roster spot next spring. If he can't, he is wasting a 40-man spot that the team could easily use on someone else.

That Wouldn't be Surprising

Luis Cruz - SS/2B - Signed primarily to provide depth, Cruz has had a nice season for Nashville. He's hit .281 and sits second on the team with 171 total bases. If the Brewers do decide to move Craig Counsell then a Cruz call up would be certain and wouldn't wait until September.

Josh Butler - SP - Not that Butler has pitched all that effectively this year, but the team still seems to have faith in him. Since he is already on the 40-man roster it would seem a waste to not bring him up and let him make a few spot starts in place of a Chris Narveson or Manny Parra. Because he struggled with injuries early in the season, inning counts would not be a concern either.

Jeremy Jeffress - RP - This one could help the team and reward Jeffress for *seemingly* turning his life around. He's shown marked improvement in his command while pitching out of the bullpen for Wisconsin, Brevard County and Huntsville this year. For the Crew's Double-A affiliate Jeffress has struck out 10 batters in 10 innings while only walking one, he has yet to allow a run.

Brett Lawrie - 2B/3B - His defense may not be impressive, but his offense is. I don't think the Brewers should call-up the Canuck, but his play at Double-A this year would certainly warrant it. Whether it's the 34 doubles, 15 triples or 77 runs scored (all of which lead the team), Lawrie's bat has been as advertised. The Brewers do have a history of giving good performers at Double-A a promotion as well (Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar). Lawrie is not currently on the 40-man roster though, maybe he would take Counsell's spot?

Brandon Kintzler - RP - Think "John Axford." Kintzler was a cast off, but has showed impressive command with Huntsville and Nashville this year. In the 42.1 innings he's pitched, the righty has struckout 39 batters and only walked four. Not too shabby and the type of player the Brewers like to reward, though he is not on the 40-man yet.

They should, but probably won't

Mark Rogers - SP - Whether Rogers future with Milwaukee is as a reliever or a starter, that future is getting very close. He is a ground ball pitcher with very good stuff and the Crew should bring him up to alleviate an overworked Kameron Loe. Give him a few chances in the bullpen this September because he will be knocking at the big league door in 2011.

Amaury Rivas - SP - Last year's minor league pitcher of the year, there is a fairly strong case to be made for that award to be bestowed on Rivas again in 2010. If Rivas is to be considered for a spot in the rotation next season, why not give him a look? He has better stuff than Dave Bush and should be at least as effective as Narveson, but the Brewers patience will likely keep him out of the bigs until next year.

Think outside the box

Brendan Katin - RF - An all or nothing hitter with a cannon for an arm and country-mile power, why not give Katin a look? Despite being hurt for a big chunk of the beginning of the season, Ryan Braun's former teammate is having one of his best all-around years. He's hitting .272 with a .374 OBP, both of which would be career highs in Triple A. Maybe he's turned a corner? Either way, fans love the guys who just swing for it.

Cody Scarpetta - SP - Had his season been terrible, I would say Scarpetta shouldn't get a glimpse. But since he will reach the major leagues before he can put in an extended period of time in the minors, Scarpetta's second half should earn him a spot in September call-ups. After the all-star break, Scarpetta has a 1.98 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 59 innings. That's pretty good. In the perfect world he wouldn't be on the 40-man roster yet, but he is - so why not take advantage of that? A-ball to the majors is a big jump but a September race for third place doesn't have much pressure involved.

Will all these players get a look at the majors in 2010? No. There will also be surprises, players that nobody saw coming. But when you look at some of the names that could get a look, you have to be excited for the future of the club. It turns out there is something to watch for on the Brewers in September.

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