Callups in the cards for Jays prospectsSeptember's almost here, so it's time for the Jays to see how some prospects handle the bigs
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan could be in line for a September callup if he stays healthy. (QMI Agency file photo)
TORONTO - It’s the time of year when thoughts turn to September callups and never moreso than with the Blue Jays in 2011.
This is a team with the stated goal of building a winner through the draft and through player development and as the talent starts to bubble to the surface, both management and fans are anxious to see the results.
A little more than a week from now, the minor league seasons will be over, except for playoffs and among the Jays’ affiliates, it would appear only double-A New Hampshire is going to the post-season.
“There are a number of guys we want to see back here, but it’s a matter of what innings or what at-bats can be distributed to make a callup in September meaningful,” manager John Farrell said.
It is a waste of everyone’s time if a player is rewarded with a September callup, then doesn’t play, as has often happened in the past. And if there are too many players, there is no reasonable expectation of a meaningful audition.
“There is a finite number (of extra players) that we can’t go past and it comes down to the number or at-bats or innings that a guy might accumulate during those three or four weeks.”
Some thoughts about a few of the candidates:
- Dustin McGowan and Adam Loewen: As long as his arm continues to respond well after his final two rehab appearances in New Hampshire, McGowan is all but assured of coming to Toronto in September. After more than three years away from the majors, this will be the ultimate test for his comeback hopes.
“We haven’t determined his role yet but we certainly want to continue his season after the minor league season is finished and that means September here,” Farrell said. “Without stamping that as a guaranteed callup, we have every reason to want to see him back at the major league level against major league hitters.”
Loewen has been equally diligent in transforming his career from pitcher to outfielder the past three years and has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Las Vegas. He’s maintaining a .379 on-base percentage and an OPS of .896 with 16 home runs and 79 RBIs.
- Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek: Both Snider and Drabek were on the opening day roster and being counted on to be important components on the 2011 Jays. Both have had disappointing seasons in that respect.
As recently as two weeks ago, it seemed certain that both would be back to see what kind of progress they have made but now it’s not that clear. Snider is the more likely of the two to get another September look because he has made some strides. Drabek, on the other hand, has, if anything, regressed even further.
In his past eight games, comprising 41⅔ innings, he has allowed 61 hits and walked 22 for a WHIP of more than 2.00 and an ERA of 7.13. While the numbers are somewhat incidental to what is trying to be accomplished, he is obviously not throwing enough quality strikes. Farrell is on record saying he wants to see Drabek back in Toronto in September but under the circumstances a callup might be pointless.
- Travis d’Arnaud and Adeiny Hechavarria: d’Arnaud has had a breakthrough season at double A, hitting .319 with a .932 OPS, 18 homers and 66 RBI and providing excellent leadership as the everyday catcher for the Fisher Cats. He would be an excellent candidate for a September promotion based on merit, but New Hampshire is going to be in the playoffs so he may not get the opportunity to come to Toronto.
Hechavarria, with his major-league-ready glove, has been hitting up a storm in his first 10 games at triple A and there’s no doubt the Toronto brass might like to see him on the field at Rogers Centre in September but he, too, might be with New Hampshire in the playoffs.
- Rajai Davis, Carlos Villanueva and Brian Tallet: All three will finish August on the DL. Farrell is hoping Davis’ torn hamstring responds well enough to get him back on the field in Toronto before the end of the major-league season.
“It would be our goal to get him back on the field for his own mindset going into the offseason,” the manager said.
Villanueva will also probably finish the season in Toronto, though he currently continues his rehab in Dunedin. Tallet is also on a rehab assignment in Florida but it’s not clear what plans they have for him in September.
- David Cooper and Brad Mills: Both Mills and Cooper had strong seasons at triple A, but neither was able to translate that into success in the big leagues when called up during the season. It’s not clear whether either or both is a candidate for September status.