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Open Thread: September Callups

Rosters will expand in just a couple of days.  Here are brief summaries of some of your leading candidates.  Who will get the call, and who will be left behind?

As the season has progressed, we've seen most of Rochester's talent pool called up to The Show, where they've performed admirably.  Boof Bonser, Jason Tyner, Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Pat Neshek and Dennys Reyes all began the year at the Twins' AAA affiliate (or lower).  Scott Baker, Josh Rabe, Jason Kubel, Mike Smith and Terry Tiffee have all seen time at both the Majors and Rochester at various points in the season.  One third of your everyday lineup (Kubel/Tyner/Bartlett) have spent significant time NOT with the Major League ballclub.

There are two ways to look at this.  One way is to see the influx of young talent (or in some cases simply a warm body) as a negative; a testament to the type of players that make up the roster at the highest level.  After all, your 25-man roster should be made up of the best 25 pitchers and position players in the system, and if this isn't the case then the organization may be making a massive, negative statement about its philosophy.  Another way to look at it is that the talent we're bringing in, in most cases, is Major League ready.  There have been struggles, but the success of Minnesota since the mass of roster changes speaks for itself.  Players have been able to come in and, largely, play their role; whatever that role may be.

So after all the changes that have already been made over the course of the season, the options for legitimate September callups becomes more speculative.  There are few obvious choices, and not many more second-tier guesses.  Let's take a brief run through the tiers, from my perspective, and then we'll get to your weigh-ins.

The Obvious Choices

Scott Baker
Level    IP   ERA  WHIP   K/9

AAA    84.1  2.67  1.21  7.26
Twins  63.2  6.93  1.59  7.35

There are a couple of other players I could list in this tier, but neither of them are as clear-cut of a choice as Scott Baker.  With the Minnesota rotation as shaky as ever, just the idea of another option to have at a moment's notice is too juicy to pass up.  It's not as though Baker is a "prospect", after all.  He's had time with the Twins in both 2005 and 2006, and although he's fallen from his status in the offseason is still a player who is ready to contribute.

Over and over we've heard the stories of how Scott Baker must "keep the ball down" and "control the strike zone" and "hit his spots".  Soon enough, he'll have his chance, and hopefully this time he'll stick.  If I had to deliver guarantees on who was getting the call, this guy would be my only one.  Here's hoping he finds a groove.

The Third Catcher
Name      AB   Avg   Obp   Slg

Wooten   340  .244  .290  .353
Heintz   361  .280  .317  .366

I don't know which one of these two will be called up, and it doesn't really matter.  One of them will be brought up to play the position of Emergency "In Case Shit..." Catcher.  Offensively it looks like Chris Heintz has had the better season with the Red Wings, but Wooten actually has a stolen base.  Decisions, decisions...

The Probablies

Terry Tiffee
Level     AB   Avg   Obp   Slg

AAA      283  .279  .321  .392
Twins     43  .233  .298  .395

Somehow, without any real proof other than what the boredom in my own mind has granted me, I've come to the conclusion that this is Terry Tiffee's last season with the Twins.  He's had chances to crack the 25-man roster permanently since 2004, and so far has amassed a .224/.272/.350 career line in 237 at-bats.  Next April, Tiffee turns 28.

Of course Terry Tiffee could stay.  He'll remain an inexpensive stop-gap option at the corners on defense, and he has major-league experience in the batter's box.  In his physical prime, he could provide just the right kind of insurance the Twins could be looking for.

Either way, AAAA is probably going to get the call in September.  Whether it becomes an audition for a 2007 roster spot with the Twins or somebody else remains to be seen, but either way he's earned his shot.  This, along with the fact that the Twins don't have another corner infielder who's ready for a cup of coffee, plays to to Tiffee's advantage.

Josh Rabe
Level     AB   Avg   Obp   Slg

AAA      335  .307  .371  .415
Twins     45  .311  .340  .533

Rabe was pushed out, basically, because Rondell White and Lew Ford became healthy.  Unless I missed something.  Josh is one of the guys you could have thrown into The Obvious Choices category, being he amassed an .873 OPS in his short time at The Show; he just wasn't as big of a no-brainer as Baker or The Third Catcher.

In Rabe's favor are the things he's done, such as having good years at both of the levels he's participated in.  Also playing in Rabe's favor are the things a couple of guys actually can't do at The Show:  HIT.  Unlike White (.214/.241/.296) and Ford (.228/.293/.311), Rabe has produced when given the opportunity.  Like Tiffee, he's also in his physical prime, and has earned a chance to prove his worth.  I hope he sticks, because right now he doesn't look like a bad option for a 4th or 5th outfielder.

Garrett Jones
Level    AB   Avg   Obp   Slg

AAA     499  .238  .305  .421

I can't recall if it's a quote from Roger or Jim Thielman that I remember from a comment back at Twins Territory, where they voiced concerns that Garrett Jones would be nothing more than a slow, strike-out prone, low-average power hitter.  Slow, strike-out prone, low-average power hitters are often times one trick ponies who don't last long at the Major League level, and one of these guys was convinced Jones would have a brief and unspectacular career.  If any career was to be had at all.

Wanting to see Jones for one more year at Rochester before I made any sort of a judgment, I'm finding it harder and harder to disagree with this opinion.  There's no doubt that Jones has the power, as he leads all Twins minor leagues with 18 homers this season.  He also has 31 doubles.  Unfortunately the strikeouts (113) and a demonstrated tendency to NOT reach base unless he's in the process of a skyjack seem to be evidence to the rule, not the exception.

Still, Jones is 25, and we all know how tempting Power can be.  At some point Jones is probably going to get a shot with the Twins, just to see what he can bring to the table, and this chance might be right around the corner.

There's Definitely A Chance-ers

David Gassner
Level    IP   ERA   WHIP   K/9

AAA    19.1  4.66   1.34  5.12

Gassner is recently back from an injury that had held him out all season.  The reasons I think Gassner has a shot at being called up are two-fold.  First, he has experience starting at the Major League level.  Second, the Twins seem to constantly be one throw away from losing a starting pitcher, for one reason or another.  He's obviously a bit of a liability, just returning from health issues of his own and possibly not being properly stretched for a start in the bigs (4 GS, 19.1 IP).  Still, the Twins can always use a starter, and being a southpaw works in his favor.

Beau Kemp
Level    IP   ERA   WHIP   K/9

AAA    84.2  2.34   1.36  3.61

Kemp has been quietly having a fine season in Rochester, and Gardenhire has gone on record saying he'd like to bring in another middle reliever.  The only question is whether or not is will actually happen.  Kemp, a right-hander, turns 26 after the season and is no doubt eager to make his first impression on the big league club.

While Kemp has put up very solid numbers this season, his strikeout rates aren't what we've been used to seeing out of pitching prospects recently.  Garza, Liriano, Neshek...these guys all ring batters up at remarkable rates.  Kemp's ratio is a bit lower than what we're accustomed to seeing, but that doesn't mean he can't be effective.  He's turned in a great campaign for Rochester this summer, and he's my top choice for the next relief pitcher to get a chance.  Even if it ends up being a short one.

Tommy Watkins
Level    AB   Avg   Obp   Slg

AAA     161  .286  .352  .416

Watkins is the only other hitter at Rochester doing anything worthy of consideration for a September callup.  Oh yeah, he's playing third base, too.  At 26, he's starting to get up there for a prospect, but in 2006 he's been one of Rochester's most consistent hitters when he's had the opportunity.  I said earlier I didn't think there was another corner infielder who was readily identifiable as an obvious candidate for a cup o' coffee with the Twins, and I still believe that.  My only reason for including Watkins in this list is because of his decent numbers at Rochester this season; his past isn't quite as promising, being his OPS in the minors was .654 entering the spring.

Players of Interest, but (Probably) Not Going

Name              Level    IP   ERA   WHIP   K/9
Ricky Barrett     AAA    47.1  3.42   1.20  9.32
Jason Miller      AAA    94.2  3.80   1.38  7.80
Errol Simonitsch  AA    144.2  4.42   1.50  5.74
Glen Perkins      AA    117.1  3.91   1.31 10.05
Jay Sawatski      AA     70.1  2.94   1.19  8.32

Name              Level    AB   Avg   Obp   Slg
Alex Romero       AAA     219  .260  .304  .311
Denard Span       AA      507  .282  .338  .339
Matt Moses        AA      445  .249  .304  .389
Glenn Williams    AAA     355  .251  .322  .375
Alexi Casilla     AA      164  .305  .380  .396
Daniel Matienzo   AA      444  .252  .295  .417

All of these guys deserve at least a glance to see how successful (or unsuccessful, in some cases) they've been.  I left off a couple of more deserving candidates in place of players who have been hyped a bit more, but the results are the same; it doesn't matter who was left off, because they're probably not going anywhere this fall.  At least, not yet.

Conclusions

The Twins need to pick a small handful of players, and they'll probably be from the lists above.  Some of the names are more obvious, while you can whiddle the list down a little more by identifying players at positions of current need for the Twins.

If the Twins don't call up Rabe, who will be the next outfielder in line for the call?  Is there even an outfielder needed?  If Kemp isn't the middle reliever getting brought up, who will be?

It's wide open.  I'd like to see what you have to say.  Or write.