It’s hard to believe the 2016 regular season is nearing an end. There are many stories that are left without a conclusion, and there are still a few more weeks left of fantasy baseball. With the playoffs only weeks away, there are still acquisitions to be made to solidify playoff rosters. On Thursday, rosters will expand and the September call-ups will finally get their anticipated calls. The Yankees’ Gary Sanchez has set the bar for all call-ups. He’s demolished pitching, and has catcher eligibility in all leagues. Last week, we took a look at AL September call-ups that can make an immediate impact. This week, and my last article of the 2016 season, I’ll be discussing National League September call-ups that can not only impact an impact this season, but need to be on all radars heading into the 2017 season.
Jose De Leon
While there are few American League arms that are being targeted in September, the opposite can be said about the National League. The NL has a plethora of young arms to get their call-up in a few days, and Jose De Leon is on the top of that list. De Leon has stormed through Triple-A Oklahoma City and managed a 6-1 record with a 2.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and [98:20] K:BB. His fastball has great life, and his changeup has become his most valuable secondary pitch. There’s no denying he’s ready for the Major Leagues, and I can say I’ve rostered De Leon for over a month. The Dodgers entered Sunday with a two game lead ahead of the Giants. Clayton Kershaw is making his way back from the disabled list, and the Dodgers will rely heavily on the arms of lefty Julio Urias, and soon-to-be-called Jose De Leon. Of all the pitchers yet to be called to the Majors, De Leon should be on the radar of all fantasy owners.
Bell has been summoned back from Indianapolis, and will get as many at-bats as possible for a Pittsburgh team that couldn’t repeat its success of the past few seasons. Bell had success during his first stint with the Pirates slashing .400/.515/.600. 25 at-bats. That is a small sample size, but owners have to like the 1.115 OPS and seven walks to only two strikeouts. During his time with AAA-Indianapolis Bell slashed .295/.382/.468 with 14 HR, 60 RBI, and 57 walks to 74 strikeouts. With eligibility at first base and outfield, Bell becomes an intriguing option for fantasy owners. He has the ability to hit for both a high average and power, and is still available in many leagues. He’ll be worth a late-round flier in 2017 drafts, and will be highly targeted by dynasty owners. It remains to be seen where the Pirates will elect to play Bell. Their outfield consists of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, and Gregory Polanco. The Pirates lack major production from the first base position, and Bell could offer production that has been long overdue. In case you weren’t already sold on Bell, he’s produced these numbers as a switch-hitter.
2016 has been a successful year for Renfroe. The outfielder has slashed .307/.340/.559 with 24 HR, 99 RBI, and four stolen bases. While he’s walked only 22 times in 501 at-bats, he’s been able to manage his strikeouts down to 109. He’ll need to show a better ability to draw walks against Major League pitching, and there is always the chance to see an increase in strikeout rate. The Padres are in need of baseball players, and Renfroe, along with Manny Margot, should arrive in September and give fantasy owners their first look at what the young pair can do. At 24, Renfroe has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. He’s ready, and should earn one of the Opening Day outfield spots in 2017. It remains to be seen how his power numbers will translate into playing his home games at Petco Park. But the good thing for Renfroe is his arm will be tested while playing in San Diego’s spacious stadium.
Reyes received his call before September, and he’s been valuable out of the Cardinals bullpen. Reyes received his first Major League start on Saturday and was as good as advertised. The righty went 4.2 innings striking out four while walking four. His pitch count was a bit high at 89, and command was an issue. Nerves had to play a direct factor as the Reyes had been phenomenal out of the bullpen throwing 9.1 innings with 13 strikeouts, four walks, and zero earned runs. Starting the season serving a 50-game suspension for using an illegal substance that wasn’t a PED, the righty had immediate success accumulating 93 strikeouts in 65.1 innings of work. There’s never been a question of Reyes’ stuff, but command is always been a concern. Reyes needs to be owned as the season comes to an end, and should be on all fantasy radars heading into 2017. It’s just about the time where the next wave of Cardinals arms make waves, and Reyes has top-of-the-rotation stuff.
Winker has made my list of top National League outfield prospects for the past two seasons. He’s arguably one of the best minor league hitters, and should be able to reach the 15-20 home run plateau annually. The Cincinnati Reds are in rebuild mode and Winker is a great prospect for a team looking for young talent. The Louisville Bats outfielder slashed .300/.389/.380 while missing some time battling a wrist injury. While his numbers have been slowed by his wrist injury, he’s finally back to full health and ready for his September call-up. What should we expect? I’d look for an impact similar to the Rockies’ David Dahl. Like Dahl, Winker is a left-handed bat that knows how to hit. There’s never been a question of whether he can hit, and he’s ready for his next challenge. Look for Winker to make a positive impact throughout September, and for the momentum to carry over into Spring Training 2017. He should earn an outfield spot and make the Opening Day roster. He’s worth a shot off the waiver wire, and a late-round flier in 2017 drafts.
While I’m sure you’re wondering why this list is short, I believe these five players have the chance to help fantasy teams as the season comes to a close. All five could help in the playoffs, and there’s no question they will be rostered in 2017. I was anxiously waiting to add the Phillies’ J.P. Crawford to this list, but he may not see the Majors as he battles a rib cage injury. In case you’re looking for other National League call-ups that could make an impact or add to your fantasy team please see the list I’ve added below. They will all be interesting late-round draft picks during the 2017 season, or will be on many owners’ watch lists.
Austin Meadows, OF, PIT
Raimel Tapia, OF, COL
Jeff Hoffman, SP, COL
Manuel Margot, OF, SD
Jorge Alfaro, C, PHI