Forecasting September call-ups

Forecasting September call-ups
Dave Sappelt (photo Tim Sheridan, Boys of Spring)

We don't have much to look forward to as Cubs fans this September.   The team hasn't come close to contention all year, the trade deadline has come and gone, and the Cubs have already called up the minor league prospects most likely to start next season.

But September call-ups are right around the corner and we should get a look at some new Cubs players as well as a fresh look at some players we've seen earlier in the season.  Here's a look at some possible call-ups with their chances ranked as high, medium, or low.

High chance of getting recalled

  • Jeff Beliveau, LHP:  Beliveau has already spent some time with the Cubs and showed some flashes of being a bullpen option for 2013.  Despite a 3.18 ERA, he struggled with his command (5.56 w/9 IP) but has shown the kind of swing and miss stuff the Cubs really need in their bullpen while in Iowa (10.9 Ks/9IP).
  • Casey Coleman, RHP:  We all know what Casey Coleman brings by now and he can give the Cubs some depth in their starting rotation as well as an extra bullpen arm.  He was almost recalled earlier when the Cubs thought they'd made a deal to trade Ryan Dempster to the Braves. (Edit: Coleman is currently on the DL and may not return before the year is over)
  • Rafael Dolis, RHP: Dolis made the team out of spring training and even temporarily became the Cubs closer when Carlos Marmol was demoted.  He's been rehabbing in the AZ Rookie League. Dolis has a great arm, reaching 97 at times early in the season, but command has been an issue.
  • Chris Rusin, LHP: Rusin was impressive in his one Chicago start, going 5 innings and allowing one hit and one run.  His AAA season has been up and down, struggling with command more than he had in the past and leaving the ball up, not a good combo in the PCL.
  • Miguel Socolovich, RHP: Socolovich spent some time in the bigs with the Baltimore Orioles and will almost certainly get a look this September as the Cubs look for cost effective bullpen options.  The 26 year old has averaged a 2.91 ERA and 10.3 Ks/9IP in 3 AAA seasons, while walking 4 batters every 9 innings. This year Socolovich has a 1.90 ERA but that was fueled partly by a 2.25 ERA and an above average strand rate of 83.3%.
  • Anthony Recker, C:  The Cubs don't have a 3rd catcher and adding him this September will give the team more flexibility.  Recker has shown some power and plate discipline at AAA.
  • Adrian Cardenas, 2B: Cardenas can hit and the Cubs have had a hard time finding him somewhere to play.  With the AAA season over and Cardenas already having MLB experience, it's likely he'll be recalled to give them a left-handed pinch-hitter.  Cardenas has hit .234 with some extra base power (.128 ISO).  At AAA, Cardenas hit .313/.396/.476.
  • Tony Campana, OF: Campana can flat out fly and that alone makes him a weapon you can carry on the bench.  His problem has been getting on base, including utilizing his speed to do that..  Campana is likely to be used primarily as a pinch-runner down the stretch.

Medium Chance

  • There's not much room for playing time if all of the above players get called-up, so these players here may get squeezed out. The first is Dave Sappelt.  Sappelt, OF, has been rather mediocre at AAA but he's been better in the 2nd half and he has hit lefties all year. He can also run a little , hit lefties, play all 3 OF positions, and has some MLB experience.  So there's some value there.  He has an .817 OPS vs. lefties this season and a .775 OPS overall since the break.  Granted that's not spectacular, given that the numbers are in the PCL, but hey, they're not looking for a starter here, they're just looking for a potential  replacement for Reed Johnson or Joe Mather. Sappelt may be able to fill those shoes and maybe the Cubs will give him an early audition for the 5th OF'er spot.  Like everyone else on this list so far, he's already on the 40 man roster.
  • Junior Lake, SS:  Lake has two things going for him 1) Dale Sveum is intrigued and seems to want him up and 2) He can play SS and the Cubs haven't had a backup at that position except for starting 2B Darwin Barney.  He could give Castro a breather or two down the stretch, but don't expect him to be a full-time SS long term.

Low Chance

  • Matt Szczur, OF: Szczur has just 28 AA games under his belt.  He's on the 40 man roster, but the only reason to bring him up at this point is to pinch-run, but that's what they have Tony Campana for.  The Cubs need to find out more about Jackson before giving MLB ABs to Szczur.
  • Marcus Hatley, RHP: Hatley is a AAA reliever with big league stuff (mid 90s FB, hammer curve) and he'll have to be put on the 40 man roster to avoid being exposed to the Rule 5 draft, where he'd have a good chance of being taken.  Hurting his chances is an 8.79 AAA ERA, though his FIP is just 2.78.  Hatley had much greater results in AA where he had a 3.40 ERA and struck out 9.2 batters per 9 IP.
  • Nick Struck, RHP:  Struck has arguably been the Cubs most successful minor league pitcher this year, going 13-10 with a 3.30 ERA.  Like Hatley, Struck has to be placed on the 40 man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft.  He can probably be a middle reliever in the bigs right now, so there's a chance a team could take him.
  • Greg Rohan, 3B: Rohan, 26, has been extremely productive at 3 different levels this year, but he's not really considered a prospect considering he was still in Class A to begin the year.  His defense and on-base skills aren't special and will almost certainly leave him on the outside looking in.
  • Logan Watkins, 2B-SS-CF: Watkins is also due to be added to the 40 man and if the Cubs decide they want to give him an early taste, he can actually provide value off the bench by playing 3 key defensive positions and adding some speed and OBP skills.  The Cubs will likely put him on the 40 man roster, but that probably won't happen until after the season.


Filed under: Analysis, Roster decisions


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  • Yeah, September officially actually came with the July 31 trade deadline. Nothing much else to see....

    Question.... why is Soler & Concepion on the 40 man roster, but not other IFA's? I'm not real familiar with how this works.

    Sounds like Hatley, Struck, & Watkins are worth protecting... so who goes?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Market dictated it. These were the last under 23 Cuban players you could bid on at will and teams went all out to sign them, knowing this was the last chance to freely bid on players, teams went a bit overboard -- and all these last few guys gut a 40 man roster spot, including Yasiel Puig.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ooh. I kind of like playing this game. IF Sappelt is going to stick with the franchise, then Mather goes. I don't think you have room for both of those guys if you risk losing a younger prospect with some upside. Likewise, I think you make a decision between Cardenas and Valbuena who seem to have a similar skill set (potentially decent left-handed bat, average or below-average D). You've also got to decide whether Ian Stewart returns. I'd say of the five guys I just named, you may have all three of those 40-man spots accounted for. At least 2.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Not sure about the "if" part. Why would they let Sappelt go? He's still young (25) and they really don't have any other near MLB ready OF'ers to replace him on the 40 man roster. He was a top 20 prospect just a year ago. Campana and Mather aren't long term solutions.

  • Would love to get a look at J. Lake and Watkins. Want to see Sappelt also.

  • In reply to drew:

    Those would be my 3 too, especially Lake and Watkins. I think Lake may have the best shot of all of the 3.

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    I would like to see Lake get called up. Im really high on that guy, I think he has a great chance to be at least an average if not above average major leaguer.

  • In reply to Nathan Mausehund:

    Lake certainly has all the tools to be a very good player. It's all about approach and learning to use those tools better. He'll be an exciting player to watch if he gets the call.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was really intrigued by Junior Lake based on what I read here on Cubs Den before the season. It might be based partly on his early injury, but he has lost a bit of that luster for me, though through no fault of his own. I've just gotten more excited about players like Baez, Soler, Almora, etc.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    No question he's below those guys. And I'm not even sure he's a starter, to be honest, but he can do some exciting things from time to time...he'd be fun (and also frustrating) to watch but totally agree, he's not on the same level as those guys.

  • No Blake DeWitt?

    I am heart broken on not seeing him this September.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    The Blake DeWitt era is over. You'll have to find a new hero :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Casey Coleman era should have been over last year!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A hero ain't nothin' but a sandwich.

  • I wish you would tell my MLB The Show "Road to the Show" career that the Blake DeWitt era is over. The game decided that the Cubs should trade away players such as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo away, yet retain DeWitt five years down the line. My player is stuck with a host of gawd-awful teammates.

  • I think it would be a great investment for the Cubs to sell off all the ivy leaves on the outfield wall for $100.00 each. Just have the ground crew pluck them off, at the end of the season and sell them with a Upper Deck verification logo and a Cubs player signature with it. We can use the money to sign our young stars to long term contracts. Must be a million leaves out that wall. We would not have to worry about crazy drunken fans sneaking in the off season into Wrigley Field. The leaves will regrow again, and we can do it all over again next year. Anyone at Cubs Front Office Mgmt., please respond on this. I have many more money making ideas for the Cubs.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Ha! Ricketts is always looking for ways to create revenue. Maybe he'll like your idea :)

  • Money Making Idea #2........each Cubs home stand next season, the outfield grass has a corporate logo carved into the center field grass.......Nike......Golden Arches (McDonalds)......Apple symbol......Audi rings..........think how much revenue the Cubs can make on corporate symbols just on grass designs.........Mr Ricketts, I am your man to help make money with this, I would not mind being a Cubs asst. GM someday.....I bet Crane Kenney never thought of these money ideas.

  • Cubs will sign Castro on Tuesday with a new 8 year contract MLB is reporting.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I"ve been hearing it's getting close (and probably done)...just a matter of making it official I guess.

  • John, I really have enjoyed your insight (including Tom and felzz) on this site and love reading everyones comments, but putting important Cub issues aside, being a fellow single malt scotch fan I was wondering what your favorite was?

  • In reply to ddbennett34:

    Thanks ddbennett!

    I haven't bought one in awhile, not as nice to drink in the hot summer :) I have a few favorites, but the one I was really enjoying this past spring was Aberlour A'Bunadh, definitely among my favorites. How about you?

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    I'd be curious to see Junior Lake play RF a few games in the minors. His arm would fit in nicely there, and while he's probably not going to be ready for the majors until mid-2013 or so, he's farther up the system than Solar or Almora, so he could get a lot of time in the corner OF spots while also getting some starts in the INF. His fielding numbers at SS and 3b this year though have been awful (but I understand the minor league fields are not like MLB and he would have better instruction up here). However, he's not likely going to get much playing time in the INF for the Cubs unless Vitters doesn't make the team next year.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I'm a fan of trying him in both RF and CF, where I think he still has the speed to cover the necessary ground. As I've said, I think his ultimate value will come as a power/speed guy off the bench and the more positions he can play, the better.

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    It's nights like tonight I am just hoping for that 1st round pick

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    It was horrific tonight. Hinshaw gave up some long HRs and L. Castillo not much better.

  • Joe Mather is now our best RP....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ha! Love that 74 mph fastball, 80 with max effort.

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