On September 1st, two important things happen involving major league rosters:
- Players who are not on the 40-man roster at this time cannot be on the postseason roster.
- Ballclubs are allowed to use anyone on the 40-man roster, effectively expanding gameday rosters by 15 players.
So, if you’re like me, who are you likely to see suddenly appear on the bench or in the bullpen next week? Let’s start with the pitchers.
- Tim Hudson (currently on 60-day disabled list) should be activated by the end of the month after a successful rehab start Sunday at AAA Gwinnett (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K). Since he is not currently on the 40-man roster (due to being on the 60-day DL) someone will have to be designated for assignment to make room for him, and I’m not sure who’s a candidate for that. So it’s possible someone below may not make it up next Tuesday.
- Buddy Carlyle has been pitching in relief at Gwinnett, where he’s allowed only two earned runs in 13.2 IP and a 21:1 K:BB ratio. While that is inline with his past minor league numbers his major league ratio (189:93) is less encouraging. He was DL’ed in May after being diagnosed with Type I diabetes and started a rehab stint earlier this month, so his return was probably a given anyway, but I can’t say I’ve particularly missed him.
- Stephen Marek was brought up to AAA for about a month this summer before being sent back down to AA Mississippi, probably because he only pitched 5.2 innings, walked 7 guys (while only striking out 4) and gave up 5 earned runs. He was acquired in the trade for Casey Kotchman and projected to appear in the pen after a promising Arizona Fall stint last year, but even in AA he has struggled with his control (25:28 K:BB in 35 IP). In his last 10 appearance, he has walked and struck out 8 while giving up 11 hits while getting plenty of playing time over the past week or so, which suggests to me that the Braves may be trying to see if he’s got anything or if he will be the casualty when Hudson is reactivated.
- James Parr has battled injuries all year (apparently, I can’t find any detailed information) and is currently on the minor league disabled list. When he hasn’t been on the DL, he’s been okay, but there’s not really enough data about him to make a definitive judgment.
- Todd Redmond has been starting for Gwinnett all year, going 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA and decent ratios except for a team-leading 19 HRs, though he also leads the team by far in IP.
- Jo-Jo Reyes has been doing his usual sort of Jo-Jo Reyes things at AAA Gwinnett, moving back into starting in early August. He’s been decent but not great, basically.
- Luis Valdez has been Gwinnett’s closer and except for one hiccup back on the 13th, he’s been doing reasonably well, with 66 strikeouts in 65.2 IP and not a lot of walks. Provided he can get major league hitters out with similar frequency, he would let off some pressure on the very overworked back of the bullpen.
Now, the position players:
- Clint Sammons (C) has been doing his Clint Sammons thing at Gwinnett: catching baseballs, throwing base stealers out about a third of the time, and not hitting at all (.221 BA, 636 OPS). His callup to Atlanta will be useful, though, as it will let the Braves use David Ross more off the bench as pinch hitter in the place of Greg Norton.
- Barbaro Canizares (1B) saw some action earlier this year when he got to start 5 games at first but didn’t really make the most of it. He’s always been around a .300 hitter in the minors but has seen his power drop off at all leaves above A-ball.
- Brooks Conrad (2B) is an excellent name for a baseball player and he really made a splash when he was called up last month while the entire infield was on the DL. That’s really about it, though, as his AAA numbers are much more mundane: .269 average, 791 OPS and 12 HRs.
- Diory Hernandez (SS) was with the big league club throughout most of the summer as a replacement for Omar Infante, where he didn’t hit a whole lot, in stark contrast to his performance at Gwinnett where he sports a 439 OBP and a .364 average. Considering he got 93 plate appearances in the big leagues and only hit .141, we can assume that he’s getting lucky at AAA or really unlucky in the majors.
- Brian Barton (OF) hasn’t really been doing much of anything at AAA and at 27 years old, may be running out of time. He served as a pinch hitter/4th outfielder extraordinaire for the Cardinals last year and was traded for Blaine Boyer and hasn’t been heard from since.
- Gregor Blanco (OF) has been playing everyday for Gwinnett but was sent down earlier this year after a disappointing stint in the majors to make room for Greg Norton. Perhaps it was telling that a relative unknown (Reid Gorecki) was called up when Nate McLouth was DL’ed instead of Blanco.
- Brandon Jones (OF) is still searching for the power production he lost somewhere on the trip from Mississippi to Richmond. Once projected to crack the starting outfield in the majors, he future is in doubt. He had a cup of coffee back in late April/early May and got a handful of hits and not much else.
- Nate McLouth (CF, 15-day DL) is currently on the disabled list due to an unhappy hamstring. As seemingly the only person on the team who can steal a base, the Braves anxiously await his return.
- Jordan Schafer (OF) recently had the cast on his left arm removed and plans to resume swinging a bat soon. The Braves hope the guy they originally wanted to start in CF for them will be back at some point. I like to think the long-term plan for the OF involves Schafer in center, with McLouth in right and a platoon in left next year with that spot eventually occupied by Jason Heyward.
Speaking of Mr. Heyward, he was recently invited to the Arizona Fall League along with fellow Braves mega-prospect Freddie Freeman. If the Braves really want to, they could add these guys to the 40-man roster in time for September and let them get a cup of coffee, though they may not for arbitration reasons. Nonetheless, since his promotion to AA, all Heyward has done is hit, with a 1046 OPS in 151 at-bats (though this may be enhanced somewhat by 4 triples). Freeman has been much worse since his promotion to AA in late June, as his average has fallen off 40 points (and his slugging is worse). At their current rates, Heyward is probably a lot closer to the majors than Freeman is.
Update: Jordan Schafer will have surgery on his injured wrist, which I would guess means a trip to the 60-day DL. They may use this as a chance to do a simple swap for Hudson, but it could get more interesting than that. Stay tuned.