While outlets across the interweb have begun to target potential impact September call-ups, we as fantasy GM's can't look at these names based on numbers or prospect hype alone. The biggest impact is going to come from those who will actually have a chance to play everyday or nearly everyday. This is an attempt to identify the teams that will provide such an opportunity and the player that might well take full advantage.
Note: All players considered fas September impacts are not on any team's current MLB roster
Angels: Perhaps a rotation spot is available
The Halos have used numerous arms to fill their fifth rotation spot recently while Tyler Chatwood has been out with a groin injury. While Chatwood is working his way back, his overall numbers don't project for future success. He has a 1.1 K/BB rate, no strikeout upside and no crazy high groundball or chase rate. Garrett Richards is on the DL with a groin injury himself, but his 95-plus MPH heater and excellent groundball rates in the minors gives him at least some upside in the right matchup.
Astros: Do we now spell it AAAstros?
The youth movement has already begun in Houston. Unfortunately, not much of that youth is very good and not much left in the system screams for a huge September. Jordan Lyles will return in a bullpen role to limit his innings, so his impact will be null and void. Perhaps some of the pitching prospects that the Astros received in the Pence and Bourn trades will get a look. Jared Cosart is the biggest pitching prospect to come over in the dealings, but he has already thrown 135.1 innings after throwing only 71.1 innings last season. Perhaps Paul Clemens will get a look, but he too has already entered a career high in innings pitched this season. 32 year old Andy Van Hekken is another name that might be up for consideration. He has posted a 3.26 FIP in 123.2 innings with about 8 K/9, though he is not on the 40-man roster and would only be a deeeeeeeep league play anyway.
Athletics: Despite losing record, not a lot of opportunity in Oakland
While the A's have had a disappointing season, the team's mix of veterans and young talent seems fairly set for the rest of the season. The outfield is full of veterans Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus. Of course, injuries can always come into play, especially with regards to Crisp. In that case, prospect Michael Taylor may get a shot, a former top prospect who has had a decent bounce-back season for the A's showing good on base skills with 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases on the year. Slugger Chris Carter could also get a look, as he has in the past, but his numbers are way down due in part to a thumb injury.
Blue Jays: Opportunity in the rotation?
After Romero and Morrow, nothing is a guarantee with regards to the Jays rotation. The first name that pops up as a possible September call-up might be Kyle Drabek, but that might not be the case at all. Perhaps the return of Carlos Villanueva will mark the biggest impact for fantasy owners next month. Top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud has killed it at double-A, but J.P. Arencibia and Jose Molina already have the catcher duties in tact.
Braves: Contenders won't give out much PT to youngsters
Mike Minor has been very solid since being recalled to start on August 8th and he has posted a 3.37 xFIP overall with the Braves this season. While everyone seems to want to name Julio Teheran as a possible September impact, I fail to see how he gets the innings in the rotation. Teheran may have dominant numbers at triple-A this season, but keep in mind that not too many 20-year-old's come out and dominate at the big league level. He only struck out two in his 8.2 major league innings earlier in the year.
Brewers: Running away with the division might mean PT for call-ups.
The Brewers might be the hottest team in baseball. They're running away with the NL Central, which might allow them to rest some players down the stretch. The only problem with that theory is that players, in general, want to play. Prince Fielder is not going to ask for a few days off just so Mat Gamel can get some at-bats. Everyone wants to stay sharp for the postseason, so the impact of September call-ups will likely be minimal at best.
Cardinals: Despite slide in standings, little hope for rookies
This is the franchise that sent Colby Rasmus out of town basically due to his conflicted relationship with Tony La Russa. TLR isn't going to play prospect Zack Cox over David Freese just to get him some big-league experience.
Cubs: Brett Jackson
That's right. Despite the Cubs' wasted 2011 season, there is only one player in their minor league system that might make a September impact. Between double and triple-A this season, Jackson has hit .282/.385/.500 with 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases. There is still some swing-and-miss to Jackson's swing that I'm concerned about, but if any prospect in this franchise can make a September impact, it's Jackson. Tyler Colvin and Tony Campana should not stand in his way. In a sense, neither should Marlon Byrd or Alfonso Soriano for that matter.
Diamondbacks: Bauer power?
Everyone seems to be pointing to D-Backs 1st round pick Trevor Bauer as a potential September impact. I wonder how that's possible. With all of the innings he threw this year at UCLA, the D-Backs are very unlikely to give him a rotation spot in the coming month. If anything, he'll be a part of the bullpen, which could pay real-world dividends in October, but do little for fantasy owners. Jarrod Parker would seem like a option for a rotation spot, but he's on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery and would likely have his innings limited in any scenario. Parker has shown flashes of his old dominant self, but has been inconsistent overall.
Dodgers: Room for looks at SS and LF
Dee Gordon got his shot to take over at shortstop for the Dodgers this season, but a shoulder injury landed him on the DL. He's on the mend and could be a sleeper for some stolen bases, thought it's tough to expect him to do much in the AVG/OBP department. Justin Sellers is holding his own at shortstop for now, but he's not much of an impact guy. Jerry Sands was the big prospect that was supposed to make an impact early in the year. I suggested otherwise. Sands has continued to crush baseballs out of the yard at triple-A, so there is at least some power potential, but he'll have to take playing-time away from Juan Rivera, which, all things considered, shouldn't be an issue.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow...