The list of September call-ups in the American League this year is rather disappointing once you get past Jurickson Profar’s name on the list. There’s no Jesus Montero or Matt Moore to go along with Profar this season. Since no impact arms, like a Shelby Miller, are being called up in the AL we’ll stick to looking at some notable hitters for these final ~25 games.
As one of the top prospects in baseball anyone who plays fantasy should be well aware of his existence. The 19-year-old shortstop more than held his own at Double-A, posting a .367 wOBA, 129 wRC+ and hitting 14 home runs in 126 games. As good as Profar is, the Rangers have a, young, star shortstop in Elvis Andrus which limits his playing time dramatically. The Rangers would probably be best served by benching Michael Young and using Ian Kinsler at DH and playing Profar at second, but Ron Washington is too stubborn/loyal/stupid to do that. Young has been one of the worst every day players in baseball this season and Profar would provide better defense than Kinsler at second. In his only action this season Profar went 2-4 with a home run and double. He’s sat the last three games while Young and his .653 OPS have started them all.
In a perfect would Profar would be getting regular to semi-regular playing time, making him a startable player in deep mixed or AL only leagues. Sadly, Washington seems set on keeping Profar on the bench, almost making him un-ownable. In keeper leagues he should already be gone, but if he’s somehow still available grab him as soon as you can. He has the potential to hit for a decent average and provide a little bit of pop and speed if given the opportunity this season, but I wouldn’t count on it due to playing time issues.
The 24-year-old Cuban defector has absolutely crushed the ball in Triple-A, putting up a stupid .359/.422/.610 line in 55 games. Despite playing in the Pacific Coast League, where everybody hits, those numbers are still impressive. He spent team with the club earlier in the season and didn’t hit well in 43 plate appearances. He’s been called up as extra outfield depth, but, unlike teammate Profar he has legitimate players standing in his way with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy gobbling up all of the outfield starts. With those three hitting as well as they are I don’t foresee Martin receiving much playing time.
He has the potential to be a potent bat if given the time, but the Rangers have one of the best offensive outfields in baseball, so there’s little opportunity for growth and little chance for ownership.
Players who win the International League MVP award don’t tend to have successful major league careers. You get a Jim Rice or Jim Thome thrown in there but for the most part the players have had AAAA ability, meaning they’re good enough to kill the minors but not good enough to hit in the big leagues. Canzler was the 2011 MVP winner, hitting .314/.401/.530 for the Durham Bulls as a 25-year-old for the Durham Bulls. Despite that success the Rays never gave him a real shot and he was picked up by the Indians over the winter. He’s not had the same success at Triple-A this season but has managed a respectable .358 wOBA and 122 wRC+ with 22 home runs. The Indians are offensively challenged, ranking 25th in runs scored and near the bottom of the league in home runs and ISO. With designated hitter Travis Hafner injured and left field having been a disaster all season, Canzler has been able to get some playing time and has taken advantage hitting .313, albeit with nothing else, in four games.
It’s worth it for a team like Cleveland to play inexpensive rookies like Canzler to see if he can be a viable candidate for next season’s roster. He seems like an AL only addition for me, but one I’d be willing to take a chance on.
He earned his call-up by hitting .314/.400/.467 in Double-A this season. Never a top-top prospect, the newly turned 25-year-old has hit well whenever he’s been, though Cleveland, like Texas with Profar, hasn’t found a way to use him yet. He’s played in one game, starting in right field. Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo occupy centerfield and rightfield on a regular basis, leaving left field to be rotated between Canzler, Brent Lillibridge and Ezequiel Carrera. Surely Neal could squeeze in some time there.
For reasons I can’t explain, Neal has been one of my favorite prospect for a few years now. He’s never been classified as a great defender but Cleveland has no reason not to give him an opportunity in this lost season. He doesn’t provide a ton of power (.153 ISO at AA) but has a good walk rate and doesn’t strike out a ton. If he begins to pick up more playing time AL only owners should take notice.
Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.