Previewing the September Call-Ups

As the calendar turns to September 1st each year, Major League Baseball teams get up to 15 additional active roster spots, with the active rosters expanding from a maximum of 25 to a maximum of 40 players.  During the month of September, and until the end of the regular season, teams can call up additional players to the majors, commonly referred to as “September call-ups”.  A few rules and notes on September call-ups:

-In order for a player to be called up, he must be on the 40-man roster.

-Players can be added to the 40-man roster and called up.

-There is no deadline to call up additional players.

-There is no rule stating how many players you have to call up, and no rule stating that you have to call certain players up.

-Any player optioned down to the minors within a ten day span prior to September 1st still has to wait the full ten days until he can return to the majors.

-A player who is a September call-up accrues service time for every day he is on the active roster.

-If a player is added to the 40-man roster and called up, he doesn’t use an option year for the current season.

It’s hard to predict which players will be called up at this point, due to various factors.  Call ups can depend on the team’s place in the standings, how the team values certain players, and obviously, who gets called up between now and September 1st.  The best approach to take would be to break things down in to groups, and look at the players who have a chance to play in the majors at some point in September.

The Disabled List

The Pirates have several players on the disabled list who are scheduled to return in September, if not earlier.  Alex Presley, Chase d’Arnaud, and Chris Leroux will most likely be activated before September 1st.  If they’re not activated by then, or if they’re optioned to AAA after being activated, expect to see them return in September.  Derrek Lee, Evan Meek, and Chris Snyder are also candidates to return in September, as soon as they get healthy enough.

The 40-Man Roster

One thing to keep in mind with players on the 40-man roster is that the Indianapolis Indians are still playing in September.  For that reason, we probably won’t see everyone called up on September 1st, although we will see a lot of players called up when Indianapolis finishes their season.  Another thing to consider is that prospects are unlikely to be called up to start their service clocks.  The Pirates could call up Gorkys Hernandez, for example.  However, they would start his service time, and lose the chance to bring him up in mid-April 2012, thus buying an extra year.  That extra year is much more valuable than the limited playing time Hernandez would see behind Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and Ryan Ludwick.

Ross Ohlendorf – It looks like he’s slated to start game two of the double header next week against Milwaukee.  Whether he remains in the majors after that is unknown, although I expect him up full time once September rolls around.

Pedro Ciriaco – Is there any doubt that Ciriaco gets recalled?  The only question is, how many at-bats will he see in September?  I’m setting the over/under at 5.

Jason Jaramillo – If there’s one position where we see a lot of September depth, it’s catching.  I’d expect Jaramillo to be recalled, just so the Pirates don’t have to be limited by catching restrictions when making pinch hitting and substitution decisions.

Eric Fryer – See: Jaramillo, Jason.

Tony Watson is sure to be back in the majors in September.

Tony Watson – I’m not sure why Watson is down in the minors right now, with Joe Beimel in the majors, but I definitely see him getting the call to the majors in September, so that the Pirates can have an extra left hander.

Daniel Moskos – See: Watson, Tony.

Bryan Morris – Morris has been great out of the bullpen in AA.  The Pirates could take an aggressive push and jump him to the majors to get some work in the bullpen.  It might not be worth it in the long run, as they could wait and call Morris up in mid-April 2012, thus getting another year of service time.

Pedro Alvarez – We know Alvarez is in AAA for the remainder of the year.  What happens after the AAA season ends?  Do the Pirates bring him back up, or just leave him down and let him start fresh in 2012?  I say they should bring him back up.

Non 40-Man Players

Matt Hague – The big question will be whether Matt Hague gets a shot.  I really don’t see it happening.  The Pirates had Lyle Overbay struggling and Matt Hague tearing the cover off the ball in AAA, and they didn’t call him up.  Then, Derrek Lee went down with an injury, and they still didn’t call him up.  Ultimately, Hague rates as an average first baseman at best, and his platoon splits indicate that he probably won’t make a solid regular in the majors.  However, I see no harm in giving him the call.  Worst case, he shows that he’s not going to be a solid regular.  Best case, he shows that he can be more than just an average major league first baseman.  There’s really no downside to giving him a look in September.

John Bowker – Bowker was outrighted off the 40-man roster this year, but has since been on a tear in AAA, with a .300/.346/.490 line and 15 homers in 363 at-bats.  It will be interesting to see if the Pirates give him another shot in the majors.  However, just like Hague, I don’t see it happening since it hasn’t happened already.

Justin Wilson – Just like Bryan Morris, the Pirates could bring Wilson up as a bullpen option.  However, just like Morris, the Pirates might be better off waiting, and getting an extra year of control from Wilson.


  • I’m never a fan of watching the service clock for ANY pitcher, whether he is a starter or a reliever.  We’re finishing up Paul Maholm’s 6th full year and people can’t wait to shovel him out the back door.

    Pitchers are too volatile and prone to injury.  Use them or lose them.  The Greatest Pitcher Ever ™ Stephen Strasburg lasted a 1/2 season before he needed TJ.  Now the Nats lost a full year of his control.  You just never know.

    If Wilson or Morris or any other pitcher deserves to be here, use them.

  • I was lucky enough to sit 20 feet away from Hague on an almost nightly basis while he was playing AA ball and I feel that he definitely at least deserves a shot at the majors.  The only reason that I could ever see him staying in Indy was to help Indy push for a championship. That core team playing in Indy now, won championships in A, AA, and in a position to do it again in AAA.  Once Indy’s season is over I say let’s give as many of those guys a shot in “The Big’s” as possible, Hague included.  Let the magic continue in Pittsburgh!

  • If Hague’s numbers don’t warrant a shot than you are solely depending on this FO’s evaluation of talent.  Everyone knows their track record for player evaluations has been spotty, so questioning the decision to play Overbay for so long instead of calling up Hague is valid. I recall a trade for Aki Iwamura to play 2nd base despite the giant fork sticking out of his back and the lack of healthy knees.
    I know Hague was never considered a top prospect, but the same is true for Alex Presley.  Give Hague a chance. 

  • The thing with Hague for me is he turns 26 this month. It’s time to get him some mlb at bats…and you can just speed up the inevitable and put Hague on the 40 now and release Steve Pearce. I am guessing that is what will probably happen anyways.  hague has had the most consistent approach in our system of any player other than maybe Tabata during his time in the minors and he deserves a shot to see if it can translate to the mlb. Service time is not important when we are talking about a 26 year old. In 6 years he will be 32!

  • I am completely baffled by the Hague situation.  I don’t understand how you can say he would be an average 1B if you don’t give him a shot.  To me this should have been a no brainer to bring him up but then again this is same mgmt that has Watson in AAA…

    • This is what gets me to, we see all the #FreeMatHague msges and how great he is doing but then hear that he would be an average 1B or even a bench player.  Ok I get it he doesnt hit a ton of homeruns but name a 1B we had that did??  Why wouldnt you want a guy to get on base,and drive in runs,  hes had 3 yrs of 30 doubles and 12 HRs would be 3rd on the team now.  I dont understand?

      • just because he put up those numbers in AAA doesnt mean he would have done the same in Pitt.  Remember that Ronny Cedeno once batted .350 in tripleA.

        anyway, Hague might be called up in September.  If not, he can show what hes about come spring training.  he was never a top prospect, so you have to remember that.

        • OK.  We have to talk about the Cedeno comparison in some sort of context. Over 2 seasons in AAA, Cedeno hit 350 avg and even more unbelievably had an OPS .937.  This was done over 600 at bats so it is not due to a small sample size.  However, Cedeno hit horribly in A and AA, which really makes those AAA #s seem to come out of nowhere.

          Hague’s numbers through each level of the minors have been extremely consistent with a .300 avg and an OPS slightly above .800.  Comparing Hague to Cedeno just isn’t a fair comparison.

        • The point I have is no one is giving him a chance, Ronny at least gets to show that he cant hit in the majors.  And I dont think hes gonna hit for a .300 avg in MLB but was hoping for .270 which would be pretty good for this team. 

          Like you said maybe in spring training he can show if he will stick or not.  Thats just if we dont pick someone up in the offseason

  • Gorkys is probably a 4th outfielder. I don’t think the Pirates care about losing 3 weeks of his service time. I do think they might keep Justin Wilson down, but really, if he would benefit from 3 weeks of time in the majors I think he should get it. How many relievers are really good for 5+ years anyway?