The playoffs are right around the corner and everyone will be looking for difference makers on the waiver wire. It would be nice if we could instantly find help, but stats don’t lie and a lot of the players left in free agency won’t help your team. What about minor league call-ups? It’s highly unlikely that a minor leaguer will make an immediate impact, but it’s not impossible. Kyle Schwarber has been on an offensive mission since he returned to the Big Leagues after a brief cup of coffee. There are others out there that will get a shot to state their case for a spot on next season’s roster. These are the American League players that can get the call before the end of the season and have a positive impact on your roster.
Luis Severino, SP, NYY
Pedro Martinez 2.0 made his debut Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox. Severino didn’t disappoint, throwing 5.0 innings of two-hit, one run baseball. He struck out seven while walking zero batters. The only blemish to his first Major League start was a solo shot to David Ortiz in the fourth inning. This is the exact production the Yankees were looking for. It was only a matter of time before Severino made his debut in pinstripes, and he could be the pitcher that helps the Yankees deep into the playoffs. Throughout the minor league season, Severino posted a 9-2 record with and ERA of 2.45. His [98:27] (3.62) K:BB is right in line with his statistics from last year when he became the top pitching prospect in the Yankees farm system. The little righty can throw up to 98 MPH, and the best part is he keeps the ball in the park. In four minor league seasons, Severino only gave up eight home runs. If you’re looking for a power pitcher who doesn’t give up the long ball, Severino is the guy to own moving forward. Owned in 61% of leagues, the word is quickly spreading.
Henry Owens, SP, BOS
During Spring Training, I was one of the many who thought Owens and Swihart would be moved to the Phillies for the services of Cole Hamels. That train has passed and both are still with the Red Sox. Owens got the call-up Tuesday against the Yankees. It would’ve been great to see Owens and Severino duke it out against one another in their first Major League starts. Owens didn’t disappoint, throwing 5.0 innings while striking out five and walking only one. Owens took the loss, allowing three runs, but fared better than any other pitcher after the Yankees dismantled the Red Sox 13-3. If you’re looking for a lefty who can blow batters away, Owens is that guy. In my preseason rankings “That’s Amore!” Minor League Maestros: AL Pitchers 2015 I made the comparison of Owens to Jon Lester. They are both big lefties who pile up strikeouts. I’m sure many of those who kept an eye on Owens’ production were a bit uneasy after Owens went 3-8 through 21 starts for AAA Pawtucket. Regardless of record, Owens managed a 3.16 ERA and had 103 strikeouts to 56 walks. He’ll need to manage his control with a 1.83 K:BB.
Jose Berrios, SP, MIN
The Twins are four games back behind the second AL Wild Card spot. It’ll be tough catching the Toronto Blue Jays, but there is enough time for the Twins to make a run at Tampa Bay, Texas, Baltimore, and the Angels. It’ll come down to pitching. In baseball, pitching wins championships. We’ve seen this proven true time after time, most recently with Madison Bumgarner last season. With that being said, Berrios could get the call any day. In the minors, Berrios has gone 11-4 in 22 starts with a 3.06 ERA and 1[35:36] (3.75) K:BB. In his last four starts (27 IP) the righty has a 1.33 ERA and 22:7 K:BB ratio with AAA Rochester. He was touched up in his first few starts in AAA, but has since settled in. I see Berrios getting the call very soon, but if he doesn’t, he needs to be on everyone’s radar for 2016. If it is indeed this season, grab him as fast as you can. He will easily be the Twins number one starter in the next few seasons.
Blake Snell, SP, TB
Following suit, Snell is another starting pitcher that will be getting a call in the American League. I wanted to add a position player, but many of the position players to get a call-up play for National League organizations. There’s something to be said about the talented arms within American League organizations. With Matt Moore struggling with his return from Tommy John surgery, Snell looks to be the next pitcher to get the call from the Rays. Drafted as a supplemental pick in 2011, Snell has been quite the value pick. On the season, Snell is 10-4 with a 1.30 ERA through three levels of minor league baseball. He has 126 strikeouts to 43 walks and has an impressive 10.9 K9. The run support probably won’t be there, but if you’re looking for strikeouts and an impact player off of the waiver wire, give a long look to Blake Snell. He should secure a rotation spot in 2016.
Frankie Montas, SP, CWS
It seems like the White Sox always find a pitcher they can develop into a solid starter. They’ve done this my entire life and aren’t stopping anytime soon. The young righty has been solid at AA Birmingham, sporting a 2.73 ERA in 92.1 IP. He has 82 strikeouts to 36 walks, but keeps the ball in the park, giving up only two home runs. He is the next young flamethrower waiting for his call as he reached 101 MPH during the Futures Game. Many fantasy owners won’t have Montas on their watch list, and a majority of them probably have never heard of the young Dominican. Luckily, you’ll have the first shot at acquiring the hard-throwing righty once he’s called up. The White Sox are a working man’s team and Montas is the next pitcher to fill the role as an off-the-radar pitcher to make a great impact for the Southside of Chicago.
Nomar Mazara, OF, TEX
I truly thought Mazara would have been part of the package in the Cole Hamels trade. Luckily, the Rangers were able to hold onto the young outfielder and Mazara has a good chance to get a call-up with the Rangers. At 6’4″, Mazara possesses the bat speed and wrist strength to produce solid power. He has 13 home runs on the season. Only 20-years-old, Mazara has all the time to develop into his frame. The Rangers are only three games back of the last Wild Card spot, and they need hitting. They were able to land Hamels, but that won’t be enough moving forward. They have had little production from Josh Hamilton, Delino DeShields Jr., and Shin-Soo Choo. They acquired Mike Napoli over the weekend, but he isn’t a player that I see helping, whether he splits time at first with Mitch Moreland or at DH with Prince Fielder. With the lack of offensive production, Mazara could make an impact similar to Andruw Jones and Miguel Cabrera when. I’m not saying he’s in the same category as Jones and Cabrera, but both were young when they helped their respective ball clubs. On the season, Mazara is hitting .288 with 53 RBI and 54 R. He’s tempered his strikeouts to 89 in 389 at-bats, and has been able to draw 43 walks. He’s a guy that could provide a spark to a team pushing for a playoff spot.
Joey Gallo, 3B, TEX
Gallo had his first taste of MLB earlier this season. He had a great first two games, going 4-8 with two home runs, five RBI, and four runs scored. Naturally, the four outs he made came by the way of striking out. There’s no question Gallo will strikeout, as he accumulated 532 in 1300 at-bats. He’s pure power and the strikeouts will be there as well. He’s struggled since his return to AAA Round Rock, but there’s no denying the potential of the 21-year-old slugger. If he can get back on track, there’s no reason he doesn’t get another shot with the Big League club in 2015. If the Rangers fall out of contention, Gallo won’t have any pressure and could pay dividends for owners that snatch the young gun upon his Major League return.
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