This season is the final one that Major League Baseball teams can take advantage of full September roster expansion. All players on the 40-man roster are able to be active and in the major-league dugout during the final month of the regular season. Next year, the rules will change and where it sits right now, the rosters will expand, but only to 28 players from the standard 26-man roster (another change for next year).
A lot of teams that are out of contention will bring up a lot of young prospects to get them a cup of coffee against some major-leaguers. Contending teams will bring up top talent from their AAA or even their AA teams to make a push for the playoffs. The Minnesota Twins have a slew of options to bolster their current roster, especially since the team has used a good portion of their depth this season. Additionally, it’s also good timing with Marwin Gonzalez, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano dealing with bumps and bruises.
So who could the Twins call up once the calendar flips to September this Sunday?
Who’s on the 40-man roster?
Before we figure out who’s most likely to be called up or not, let’s take a look at the who is on the 40-man roster that isn’t with the major-league club right now:
UTIL Willians Astudillo (10-day IL)
OF Byron Buxton (10-day IL)
OF LaMonte Wade Jr (10-day IL)
INF Nick Gordon (7-day minor-league IL)
P Devin Smeltzer
P Zack Littell
P Lewis Thorpe
P Kohl Stewart
P Sean Poppen (7-day minor-league IL)
P Stephen Gonsalves
P Ryne Harper
P Fernando Romero
P Trevor Hildenberger
P Marcos Diplan
Note that there is currently one open spot on the 40-man roster, which we’ll talk about later in this post.
Most likely to be called up
It could be said with confidence that many of the players that saw time with the major-league club this year will be called up on Sunday. Smeltzer, Stewart, Littell, and Thorpe have each made spot starts for the Twins this year as needed and could be used to give a starter a rest against some not-so-good-teams that the Twins will face. Smeltzer and Thorpe have certainly proven effective during their cups of coffee, and Stewart could see some time as a long-man out of the bullpen. Although the Rochester Red Wings end their season on Monday and are out of playoff contention, Thorpe will have to wait a bit longer to join Minnesota as he was optioned down to Rochester on August 26, meaning the team will have to wait a minimum of ten days before he can be placed on the active roster. The earliest the Aussie can participate in big-league action is September 5.
Another pitcher that many could see joining the team is Hildenberger. Prior to his demotion in mid-May, he had amassed an 8.36 ERA over 19 appearances out of the ‘pen, including an opponent slash line of .381/.423/.540. After joining Rochester, he didn’t find himself getting any better, as he posted an 8.44 ERA over nine games and opponent slash of .370/.420/.587. He was placed on the minor-league Injured List with a flexor mass strain and saw rehab time with the GCL Twins (4.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 K) before re-joining the Red Wings on August 20, appearing in three games for five innings of work. He has a 0.00 ERA in that small sample size, along with three strikeouts, a walk, and a hit. He’s also notched a W and a save since coming off of the IL.
Another bullpen arm that we haven’t seen in some time that would most likely join the Twins is Romero. He had a couple cups of coffee with the big-league club this year, but proved to be ineffective for the most part. His time with the Twins so far this season gave way to a 7.88 ERA (6.71 FIP) in eight innings of work, including a 13.5 H/9 but a promising 9.0 K/9. Since his last option down to Rochester in mid-June, he has pitched to the tune of a 3.77 ERA across 31 innings of work, and an opponent triple-slash of .246/.357/.320, allowing only one homer, striking out 34, and walking 20 batters. His defense was rough behind him as he allowed 21 runs, but earning only 13 of them. The Twins would most likely like to get him some big-league time before the season is up.
Flipping over to the position player side of life, Astudillo is a shoe-in for getting called up. He’s been playing rehab games with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Rochester since mid-August, batting at a clip of .340/.397/.604 with four homers, 12 RBI, and striking out only once. Adding a third catcher back into the rotation would certainly give Baldelli some wiggle room to give Jason Castro and Mitch Garver a day off during the next month.
Buxton is currently on the IL and was rehabbing with Cedar Rapids but faced a
set-back “snag”. If/when he is cleared to come back to the majors, it’s guaranteed that he’ll be activated off the IL to play with the Twins.
Might get called up
Like Astudillo, Wade Jr has also been rehabbing since mid-August, but, in his case, between the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Pensacola. During that time, he’s been batting .194/.310/.278 with three RBI, six walks, and eight strikeouts in ten games. Although his batting line isn’t spectacular, the Twins may call him up for some position depth and maybe as a pinch-running option late in games.
Harper was sent down on August 24 after it appeared that major-league batters were finally catching onto him. The non-roster invitee made the big-league roster in March and had 56 appearances in his time with the Twins. He’s made only one appearance with Rochester, working one inning, allowing two hits and an unearned run while striking out one batter. If the Twins sent him down recently, it may not make much sense to have him back up in September, but it could be a coin flip if they would like to have his services again in the majors.
Probably not going to be called up
Gordon is on the 7-day minor-league IL with a lower left leg contusion. Before suffering his injury, he was batting .298/.342/.459 with four homers and 40 RBI in 70 games for the Red Wings. He may have had a cup of coffee with the Twins this September, but it looks pretty dim with his injury.
Poppen had a few outings with the Twins this year (4 games, 8.1 IP, 7.56 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1.800 WHIP), but remained mostly in the minors between Pensacola and Rochester. After his last shuttle to Rochester, he started a game and then was placed on the IL with a right elbow contusion. He’s was assigned to rehab with the GCL Twins this past week, but with their season shut down due to an impending hurricane, it may be safe to say that Poppen will not see any time in the majors this upcoming month.
Gonsalves had elbow and forearm issues most of the season, resulting in only one outing with Rochester before being placed on the IL in late May. He had a rehab stint with the GCL Twins this month, resulting in nine innings of 2.00 ERA, allowing two homers and 16 punch-outs against no walks. He’s currently with Pensacola, whose season also ends on September 2 and has some post-season hopes alive yet, and has pitched one inning, allowing an unearned run, a walk, and two strikeouts.
The last player is Diplan, who the Twins received from the Milwaukee Brewers for cash at the trade deadline this year. He’s pitched ten innings for the Blue Wahoos, earning a 4.50 ERA while striking out nine batters and walking seven. Diplan is certain to not see any time with the Twins this next month, and might be a candidate to get the boot off of the 40-man if the front office believe that he’ll make it through waivers.
What to do with the extra roster spot?
As mentioned before, the Twins do have one roster spot open on their 40-man. Many fans are clamoring to see Brusdar Graterol make his major-league debut this September. The hard-throwing (read: consistently throwing 100+ miles-per-hour) had shoulder issues this year, resulting in a stint on the Injured List. The starter-turned-reliever has put up a 2.89 ERA in 9.1 innings of work between the Blue Wahoos and Red Wings since returning from the IL. In additional, he’s struck out nine batters against four walks, and holding batters to a .167/.286/.300 line during those six games.
Jorge Alcala is another starter-turned-reliever whose name is being tossed around for a September call-up. Recently promoted to Rochester, Alcala owns a 5.55 ERA between AAA and AA this year. He’s striking out batters at a 9.4-per-nine clip, but is allowing 9.7 H/9 and 3.1 BB/9 this season too. In a small sample from Rochester - a total of four games and six innings - he hasn’t allowed an earned run and is holding batters to a .143/.182/.238 batting line.
Any names that I missed? Who would you like to see called up to play with the Twins this September?