Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Roster Candidates

Time for call-ups and who is due to join the big club; the Pirates opted to hang with what they've got in house through September after the deadline dealing was done. The arrivals will likely be layered, with a few guys coming up ASAP and the others getting in their final games at Indy before punching their ticket to Pittsburgh. Josh Bell, Alen Hanson, AJ Schugel & Kelvin Marte are already here for the duration of the season. Paper transfers Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault & Adam Frazier will rejoin the club on Friday when Bristol of the Appy League ends its season, bringing the active roster to 28.  Here's a list of the other suspects:

The DL list:
  • Chris Stewart: Stew built up a little stamina in the minors treading water at Altoona while allowing the Pirates to keep  Eric Fryer's bat until the end of the season. He'll be back September 1st, offering an immediate defensive upgrade over Fryer for the days Fran gets a blow.
  • Jung Ho Kang: He's eligible to come off the DL Sunday, but hasn't played a game since partially dislocating his shoulder, so his return date is TBD.
  • Gerrit Cole: While the news on his arm was promising, he can't come off the DL until September 9th and isn't likely to ready by then. Like JHK, his return is TBD.
Stew is ready to saddle up (photo Charles LeClaire/USA Today)

Likely Call Ups From Indy:
  • Elias Diaz: With Stew coming back, we're not sure how much action he'll get. But he has recovered from his arm woes and caught, as of today, 24 games for Indy while batting .272, albeit w/o much power and tossing out 8-of-13 base stealers (62%). Not exactly the season he was hoping for in terms of workload, but not a lost one, either.
  • Drew Hutchison: The return for Frankie & the gang hasn't really shown any real reason to be added to the list by performance (0-1, 5.46 at Indy), but the Bucs FO made a big deal about trading for him. Drew's got experience as a MLB starter and could plug in as a long reliever/spot starter.
  • Jason Rogers: JR didn't have much of a year at Indy (.268 w/six HR) and David Freese made him expendable, but he has major league experience and would provide a bench bat. He's out of options after this year and seems to be off the radar, so if the Pirates want to begin their 40-man roster housecleaning, he could be one that goes.
  • Tyler Glasnow: The top gun is off the DL and tossing at Indy; like Diaz, they may keep him down for another start before calling him up. He still has the same control issues that have tripped him up before, but with Cole Train out, he's insurance.
  • Max Moroff: Max has already been up and can play all over the field. He strikes out more than you'd like, but he's a switch-hitter with a nice OBP (.365, but with a .231 BA), so he could be another pinch hitter-type and serve as some depth until JHK returns.
Elias will be joining up w/Fran, Stew & Fryer (photo Elsa/Getty)

The Pirates may hold some or all of these guys back until the end of Indy's season on Monday. With their addition and the return of the DL gang, the Bucs active roster would be up to 37 players, which is a pretty large unit and may be more than they want to carry.

Not On the 40-Man Roster:
  • Trevor Williams: He's had an excellent year at Indy (8-6, 2.68), but with Brault in the rotation and Hutchison & Glasnow likely call-ups, there's really not a spot for him. If Tyler's not deemed ready, though, he could be the rotation's spare card up the sleeve. He'll have to be join the 40-man after the season. Trevor will play in the Arizona Fall League in October after working just 109 IP this year with to a late start thx to a bum shoulder.
  • Dovydas Neverauskas: The Lithuanian Kid will be added to the 40-man after the season. He had a shot at a September look, but his recent arrest may have squelched that move. Dovydas only went 3-4-3, 3.60 at Indy but at 23 has upside as a World Team member of the  Futures Game and a heater that touches 95. The reliever will also work in the Arizona Fall League.
  • Frank Duncan: The soft tosser came out of nowhere to post some great numbers at Indy (9-5, 2.04). But we don't believe he has to be placed on the 40-man this year, and the Pirates may want to see a second strong campaign at the upper level before committing to him.
  • Jose Osuna: He also should make the 40-man after breaking out this year (.301/.344/.505). He could provide another stick, but we don't know that the FO wants to mess with the current 40 man too much yet though he could bump Rogers out of a spot.
  • Pedro Florimon: Pedro is a dependable glove with some speed, and he did hit .263 at Indy tho his stick is less than stellar. There's an overload of infielders, but his experience will merit some consideration.
  • Barrett Barnes: The 2012 sandwich pick caught fire at Altoona (.3088/.375/.479), but the Pirates don't generally skip a level, even for September. He's got a good shot at landing a 40-man spot for next season.
  • Justin Masterson: The righty is 31 and didn't show much at Indy (2-1, 4.47); the Pirates pitching pixie dust doesn't always work.
Trevor Williams - not being on the 40-man hurts his chances (photo Robbie Rogers/USA Today)

Most of these players are 40-man roster candidates; the question is when the Pirates will adjust the list, now or in October. 

    • Sorry, Charlie:
      • Nick Kingham: He's bouncing back nicely from TJ surgery; if he had been healthy, he would almost be a sure shot to join the big club. Not this year, though.
      • Gift Ngoepe: Ngoepe is on the 40-man roster, but his recent arrest almost certainly cost him any chance of a call up. He may lose the 40-man spot soon enough, too. Gift is a great story with speed and an unbelievable glove, but his offense is brutal as he strikes out at 40% rate.
      • Curtis Partch: Partch is 29 and been a BP pitcher in his couple of cups in Pittsburgh despite a nice heater and stellar stats at Indy (2-2-4, 2.29, 58 K in 59 IP). He's on the 40-man, but we'd guess not for long as he has all the earmarks of a AAAA player.
      • Willy Garcia: Great arm, but he's regressed at the plate (.245, six HR). He's also looking at being scrubbed from the 40-man.
      Nick Kingham's time is coming... (photo Reinhold Matay/Getty)

      We don't expect the Pirates to carry more than 35 or so guys through September, though that number could bump up a little depending on the recovery timelines of Cole and Kang.

      What will be an interesting sidebar will be whether or not the Pirates tinker with the 40-man roster now or wait til the off season. Some of the deadline moves were because of an impending log jam, as Harold Ramirez, Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley were all guys who were recently dealt partially because they would have needed 40-man protection in 2017 or been Rule 5 bait; Reese McGuire was a year away. With both a fairly set roster in Pittsburgh and prospects pushing their way up, the Pirates have some tough choices on who stays and who has to go.
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