Breaking Down the September Call-Up Options From Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — After seeing a couple of call-ups come out of nowhere last season, including John Holdzkom’s rise from indy ball to the big leagues, this year’s stock of September call-ups are a bit more predictable with fewer surprises.

Indianapolis is seeing more of an influx of younger talent coming through this season, but most of the call-up candidates are veterans who have already been in Pittsburgh this year, and are just looking for rosters to expand in order to return from the DL or get added back to the 40-man roster.

Listed below are the September call-up candidates, broken down by their chances of getting called-up in September. The first group is made up of guaranteed guys who will be called up barring any type of injury. The next group is borderline guys who can go either way. The final group has no chance, with this group focusing on the top prospects who are expected to arrive next year.

Guaranteed

Vance Worley: After being DFA’d for roster space, Worley has been strong with Indianapolis in a handful of starts. He has been getting stretched back out as a starter, and coincidentally his starts now line up with Jeff Locke’s in Pittsburgh, with the next possible start to be on September 1st. Worley provides experience down the stretch and is a guarantee to rejoin the team, whether as a starter or reliever.

Rob Scahill: While Scahill is not officially a member of the Indianapolis roster, and is there on rehab, I have still decided to include him on the list. Since he is on the 40-man and would be lined up to be activated around September 1, Scahill is also a lock to rejoin the Pirates when the roster expands for some bullpen assistance.

Travis Snider: After being traded to Baltimore before the season, Snider rejoined the Pirates organization on a minor league contract last week. The Pirates are clearly comfortable with Snider and trust his ability down the stretch. You can also never have too many left-handed bench options. However, Snider may spell doom for another Indianapolis outfielder looking for the bid.

Radhames Liz: After spending the duration of his time in Indianapolis as a starter, Liz was sent back to the bullpen this week. While the move was in no way performance based, it is clear that the short-term intentions are to use Liz as a reliever. This would also point to a reunion with the Pirates bullpen in September to give it another power arm.

Bobby LaFromboise: Having a spot on the 40-man and working out of the bullpen as a lefty makes LaFromboise a lock to be a September call-up for the second straight season. While he has seen mixed success in 2015, LaFromboise has seen his stuff improve as the season has gone along. He would give the Pirates their third lefty reliever.

Borderline

Wilfredo Boscan: Boscan has seen a couple of emergency promotions this season when the bullpen has gotten taxed with long games. However, he has still yet to make his Major League debut. Outside of a tough stretch in the middle of the season, Boscan has been strong when his command is there. Along with fellow Indianapolis starter Chris Volstad, Boscan is a long shot to get the call, but the strong season makes him worth an inclusion on the list.

Elias Diaz: Having one of the best arms behind the plate in the entire organization makes Diaz an interesting option to join the Pirates in September. Much of the season, Diaz has been working on calling games and working with the staff, and is pleased with his progress. Though the power has not completely developed yet, he has a solid approach at the plate and some time with the big league club could be strong for his development.

Tony Sanchez: Sanchez has been working in a two-catcher system with Diaz most of the season. On the outside, it looks like Diaz is the man if the Pirates take only one catcher when the rosters expand, but both are on the 40-man. This leaves open the option that both catchers could see time with the Pirates. Based on Diaz outplaying the veteran, it appears that Sanchez could be an option to help Indianapolis down the stretch in the playoffs and then rejoin the Pirates if that is in the cards.

Alen Hanson: Hanson is an intriguing name on the list. He is on the 40-man and has a lot of tools that can help the Pirates down the stretch. Last season, Pittsburgh called up Chase d’Arnaud in September, just for the speed element. While Hanson has speed, he does not quite have the stolen base element that Gorkys Hernandez does. He also has a track record of starting slow at each level, so he might not be a big help at the plate. He can play second, short, and third, but would be at least the third best option at each position. If the Pirates brought up Hanson, it would be for a very limited role this year.

Pedro Florimon: After Florimon was recently DFA’d for pitching depth, he cleared waivers and rejoined Indianapolis. With Jordy Mercer returning to Pittsburgh, it seems murky as far as Florimon’s role if he receives a promotion. He is a strong defensive player, which comes in handy down the stretch, but he also appears to be a player who may be an option to rejoin the Pirates after the Indianapolis playoff run. The biggest issue is that the Pirates lack 40-man space, which means Florimon could be viewed as expendable.

Steve Lombardozzi: Having seen a couple of promotions, Lombardozzi has put together a strong season in Indianapolis. He has bounced around and played several position, which comes in handy down the stretch. He is still showing some issues throwing from most infield positions. That limits his use down the stretch and makes him a longshot to get the call-up, despite a strong offensive season in Triple-A.

Jaff Decker: With the addition of Travis Snider, it makes the future for Jaff Decker unclear this season. After the frustration of being left off the expanded rosters last season, Decker reworked his swing and approach this past offseason in order to take his game one step further. With Snider offering nearly the same tools as Decker, a call-up right away seems to be unlikely. Decker could also be a candidate to be removed from the 40-man roster to create space for one of the above guys.

Gorkys Hernandez: Hernandez has the speed and defense that makes him a perfect fit for a September situational player. With an improved swing at the plate, Hernandez has put it all together at the Triple-A level this season, even earning a brief stint with the Pirates midway through the season. However, with a lack of 40-man space, and with Travis Snider a lock to get promoted, it seems the chances for Hernandez returning to the majors are slim.

No Chance

Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Willy Garcia: While all three players certainly have the hype and some tools that can help the Pirates down the stretch, rushing any of these player just does not fit their typical business model. Of the three, Garcia is on the 40-man roster, making him a tad more appealing, but all that means is that the expanded roster starts at 39. Don’t expect any of these star prospects to don the Pirates jersey until June 2016 at very earliest.

Not in Indianapolis

Travis Ishikawa: The Pirates placed Ishikawa on the disabled list with a lower back strain when Jordy Mercer returned. The move seemed like a way to keep him around so that he could return in September. Expect Ishikawa to return to the Pirates right around the end of his 15-day stretch.

Deolis Guerra: He hasn’t started a rehab assignment yet, but was pulled back off waivers earlier this month and placed on the disabled list. It’s possible this move was made to keep him around as bullpen depth in September. However, he will need to go on a rehab assignment at some point before returning. The fact that this hasn’t happened yet could mean that he’s legitimately injured, in which case his move to the 60-day DL could free up an additional roster spot.

Analysis

  • I’m not sure the “Guaranteed” column are guarantees.

    I guarONtee it! 🙂

  • piraterican21
    August 27, 2015 2:23 pm

    With 40 man roster crunch I don’t see how Scahill is a lock, if anything I will easily swap Worley, or Liz for Scahill

    • I thought Ryan mentioned Scahill is on the 40 so it’s strictly clerical to bring him up. With Liz and Worley a move has to be made. And we know they don’t like to throw out assets for nothing…I could be wrong though.

    • They could always use Scahill for a week or so, then make a different move. Sorry. I mistook you’re meaning.

      • piraterican21
        August 27, 2015 3:48 pm

        I wasn’t clear,but I think you got my point, Scahill doesn’t deserve a 40 man spot over Worley, Liz and serve the same purpose

    • Scahill is on the 40-man. Also, I get no impression from Hurdle or anyone else that he’s at risk of being DFAd instead of rejoining the team on September 1st.

  • I’d like to see Snider on the 40-man prior to the Sep-1 deadline so he can play in the playoffs if needed. He provides a LHB and strong OF defense, and they a 4th OF more than they need a 4th 1B (Ishikawa) in my opinion.

    • Could happen as soon as tomorrow. Cole won’t be needed after today until 9/2 which is after Bristol’s and the GCL season end. They could wait and do it with Happ as well. He would need to give permission but doubt that would be an issue with a paper move.

    • Not necessary. As long as the Pirates are carrying anyone on the 60-day DL as of August 31, they can swap in anyone in the organization, regardless of level, to the playoff roster. No one needs to be brought up before September 1 for playoff purposes.

    • 1) Not needed as pointed out below

      2) He doesnt have strong OF defense, thats a myth that a few highlight catches seem to have propped up. He’s a decent defender, but not strong. He’s been really night and day year to year in defensive stats.

      3) They have a 4th OF, his name is Josh Harrison. They dont need a pure OFer any more than a pure 3rd catcher. If the postseason is the issue, look for the best hitter and dont worry about defense.

  • No mention of Cory Hart

    • Greater chance of Corey Hart playing a SkyBlast than Corey Hart playing a baseball game.

  • Any of these guys have a chance at the playoff roster? Snider and Liz seem like they would be good playoff depth, but that could mean they’d have to get rid of Ishikawa for Snider and I’m really not sure if there is anyone currently in the bullpen that I’d prefer Liz over.

    • I agree on Snider. I’ll take his OF defense over Ishikawa’s so-called flexibility (i.e. it doesn’t count if you can’t play the OF well).

      • Haha that has to be the 1,000th time I’ve seen that joke made on this site

      • You wouldnt really be factoring defense into it a ton for the playoffs, since both guys are mostly a PH at that point. You’ll start Cutch-Marte-Polanco most games and have Harrison as emergency OF depth if an injury occurs.

        Thats a “who is gonna be a better hitter” race imo.

  • A little disappointed that the Pirates have not given Liz at least a look at the Major League level as a starter. A lot of that probably has to do with the 40 man roster…but with his success at AAA and his stuff you’d really like to see if he could pitch better than some of the backend starters we have recently run out there. Maybe putting him on the 40 man will give us the opportunity to do that in ST next year and into next season.

    • I’m interested to see Liz too. But I’m cautious. I’m wondering if the numbers are inflated from AAA hitters chasing that slider out of the strike zone. And I’m purely looking at the numbers, but it’s seems once he’s in the Show, he just can’t avoid walks.

      But you gotta give Benedict and Searage the benefit of the doubt. One thing I’ve learned last few years. Be nice to add another strong bullpen arm.

  • No love for Broxton? He seems to be a legit base stealing threat with 27 SB in 34 tries in AAA.

  • I really can’t see the Travis Snyder or Jaff Decker
    love affair. These retreads can’t help. If we are clearing 40 man roster spots I’d rather see it for pitching. Definitely DIaz or SAnchez.

  • One other question? Who is fastest of these guys? Gorkys? If so I think there is value in having someone with good chance to swipe a base in late innings. I know people will bring up his gaffe in Detroit but he might be worth a roster spot.

  • It’s “don” a Pirates jersey, not “dawn” unless you were ironically trying to do a Yinzer accent 🙂

    Liz going back to the pen is an interesting development considering it seemed like consensus that he was better equipped to be a starter than a reliever.

  • I think Snider makes biggest difference. Not really excited about the other options.

    If Worley could return to 2014 self that would be great but not sure that’s happening.

    Liz had very good results as a starter but was horrible out of pen earlier in season and it looks like that is what his role would be.

    Scahill is OK as an extra arm but don’t want to see him in any relatively leverage situations.

    Given our problems controlling running game wouldn’t mind seeing Diaz but he probably wouldn’t get much action anyway so they might lean Sanchez.

    Hanson would be interesting as well even though he’s cooled off but I doubt he gets the call.

    We really don’t have any interesting young arms to bring up this year.

    • Its somewhat ironic you start by saying Snider makes a difference (as a fact) and follow it up directly with Worley but place doubt via “if he could return to 2014 thats great but not happening”.

      Someone being a bit honest about Snider could say similar things. If he returns to 2014 version he’s good, if not he’s basically only useful for being LH.

      • You also would, honestly, be more likely to see Worley return to form based on the fact that we seem to do well with pitchers, he gave us a great, long string of appearances last year, and was not actually all that terrible this year.

        • His role also could be conducive to helping make him look “better”. As a reliever, he is a non terrible option. And in a real SSS, he could help as a starter.

          I suppose in SSS Snider could also help, but he’s gonna be a pure PH and i just dont have faith in his bat right now.

          • Saw an article on a Orioles blog that said Snider struggled with inside stuff. Power non existent. Major swing issues. Hopefully I put the reverse hex on him, but for some reason not sure he’s gonna help.

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