Let’s take a look at the Triple-A pitching leaderboards for five who could get an unexpected call up, either to fill an August need or when rosters expand to 40 in September. By the way, no one who has already appeared in the majors this year will be included here. Sorry, Adam Plutko (1.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP)!
Josh James | HOU | 25 years old, 3.38 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 27% K-BB in 77 IP
James didn’t make Eric Longenhagen’s Houston prospect list this preseason, but he’s been the king of Carson Cistulli’s Fringe Five series this year, appearing on the list 10 times. The Astros have used the same five starters all year so none of their minor leaguers have gotten a shot, but Lance McCullers Jr. just hit the disabled list. He could be back before they need a fifth starter, but keep James in mind should a longer-term slot open up.
Sean Reid-Foley | TOR || 22 years old, 3.50 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 20% K-BB in 82 IP
SRF is a legitimate prospect, slotting 11th on Eric’s list, and he’s been fantastic in his 126 innings across Double- and Triple-A, improving his walk rate in the latter and keeping a 13% swinging strike rate across both levels. I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t at least get a September look and he could be a true asset for the team that rosters him.
Manny Banuelos | LAD | 27 years old, 3.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 19% K-BB in 97 IP
Yes, that Manny Banuelos. ManBan was a mega prospect back in 2011-12, slotting as high as #13 on one prospect list (MLB.com) and landing no lower than #41 in those two years (Baseball Prospectus). He’s become a minor league journeyman in the meantime and it’s not like he’s been amazing with the Dodgers organization, but he’s cut his walks and amped his whiffs. In fact, his 12% swinging strike rate is his highest anywhere since 2011. The merry-go-round Dodgers rotation has guys bouncing on and off the DL and Banuelos could get a spin or two, especially if the Dodgers can pull away in September and have the luxury to manage the workloads their best arms for October.
John Means | BAL | 25 years old, 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 17% K-BB in 83 IP
Means is neither a prospect nor a Fringe Five entrant, but he is on a terrible team with plenty of room to give starters a try. Of course, as we saw with David Hess of the O’s, this minor league success doesn’t guarantee anything. Hess had a 3.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 13% K-BB in 46 innings at Triple-A, but has been beaten around the yard in 53 MLB innings (6.41 ERA, 5% K-BB).
Jake Kalish | KC | 26 years old, 3.39 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 22% K-BB in 61 IP
Kalish sputtered through 39 innings at Double-A in mostly a relief role, but got promoted anyway and has rode a 2% walk rate to some solid results. He still has a .358 BABIP and his 3% HR/FB rate is doing some heavy lifting. But even with limited upside, the Royals should give the 26-year old a look.
Have y’all been keeping an eye on any minor league arms who could get a call? (Again, keep it to those who haven’t appeared in the majors yet)