Breaking Down the September Call-Up Options

September 1st is just a few weeks away, and that means the Cubs will have the opportunity to bolster their roster with some help from the minor leagues. Here is a quick breakdown of the potential guys the Cubs could bring up and the likelihood of their call-up.

The Spot Start Options

Eddie Butler, RHP
We’ve seen Butler in the big leagues this year when the Cubs needed help in the rotation. The production was solid when he pitched, but he was unable to go deep in the games and the peripherals were not good at all. Butler is currently on the DL with an unknown injury, so I’m not even sure if he’ll even be healthy enough to get the call.

Chance of a call-up: 2 out of 10

Seth Frankoff, RHP
Frankoff was signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason and has been great in the Iowa rotation this year. He strikes out a good number of guys (9.4 per nine), he gets a lot of ground balls (55 percent of the time) and even with an ERA of 3.99, he has a DRA of just 2.18. He made a brief stint in Chicago earlier in the year, and he’s certainly earned a call-up in September. The Cubs could potentially use a spot starter, or they could use a long man in the pen so they can potentially get Montgomery back into high leverage spots later in the year.

Chance of a call-up: 6 out of 10

Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
Tseng has had a great year at both Tennessee and Iowa. The strikeouts ticked backed up after a poor season in 2016. He’s vaulted himself back into the legitimate prospect conversation, but could he earn a spot start or two in September? One potential issue is he’d have to be added to the 40-man roster, which is full at the moment. Another issue is that Tseng has already reached his career innings high. By the time we get to September, he’ll be pushing 150 innings. His previous career high is 119 innings.

Chance of a call-up: 2 out of 10

The Bullpen Help Options

Pierce Johnson, RHP
Johnson is one of the multiple power arm options that the Cubs have available for them in September. He has had command issues throughout the year, but the strikeout numbers have also been great. He has been on a pretty solid hot streak lately as well. Since July 1st, Johnson has a 3.38 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 21.1 IP. With a pretty taxed bullpen and multiple guys struggling at the big league level, Johnson is a solid option to get a couple innings late in the year.

Chance of a call-up: 7 out of 10

Jack Leathersich, LHP
Many folks might remember Leathersich from his absolutely horrible Cubs debut earlier this year. He immediately got sent back down to Iowa, where he’s posted 0.63 ERA and struck out 21 batters in 14.1 innings. With Justin Wilson struggling, the Cubs could really use another lefty out there, even if Montgomery returns to the pen. The ability to utilize Leathersich in a specialized role could potentially help him out after a shaky debut.

Chance of a call-up: 8 out of 10

Rob Zastryzny, LHP
Rob Z just returned to Iowa yesterday, and you can almost assuredly expect him to be re-join the Cubs in September. The lefty was extremely helpful down the stretch in 2016 and he has the opportunity to do it again. He has struggled a bit as a starter in Iowa, but he might be better suited for the bullpen where he’s had success in the past.

Chance of a call-up: 10 out of 10

Justin Hancock, RHP
If you’ve never heard of Hancock, you’re probably not alone. He was acquired earlier this year from the Padres for Matt Szczur. His minor league numbers have never been anything to write home about, but his stuff has seemed to have ticked up since the Cubs acquired him. He has recently been in the mid to upper 90s, even touching 99 mph the other night. He would need a spot on the 40-man, which complicate matters. He’s a long shot, but with the recent uptick in stuff he has certainly pushed himself into the conversation.

Chance of a call-up: 1 out of 10

Dillon Maples, RHP
We talked about Maples last week, and he’s a prime candidate for some MLB action in September. As I pointed out last week, the stuff has been great, the strikeouts are extremely high and the walks have been down a tick in Iowa compared to Tennessee. He has the kind of stuff that can play at the back of the bullpen if he can keep the walks under the control. Maples isn’t on the 40-man, so there could be complications finding a spot for him, and he’s also already at an innings total he hasn’t hit since 2013, so there is a question of whether or not the Cubs want to push him there.

Chance of a call-up: 6 out of 10

The Bench Bats

Victor Caratini, C
Caratini was sent back to Iowa yesterday after the acquisition of the defensively-minded Rene Rivera. While Caratini was solid in his stint in the big leagues, the Cubs decided to opt for defense for a couple of weeks. Caratini will be back in September, and he’ll provide a decent bat off the bench and some more depth behind the plate. His stint in Iowa will be a short one.

Chance of a call-up: 10 out of 10

Mark Zagunis, OF
We already saw Zagunis once this year and while he struggled, he’s much better than he showed in his initial stint in the big leagues. Upon returning to Iowa he has posted a .299/.414/.419 slash line. Unfortunately Zagunis recently landed on the DL with a sore wrist. If healthy, he’s almost assuredly be up in September, but it hasn’t really been announced how serious the injury is.

Chance of a call-up: 6 out of 10 (10 out of 10 if healthy)

Jemile Weeks, UTIL
Weeks signed with the Cubs in the off-season and had an outside shot to make the club out of Spring. Instead he headed to Iowa. He started slow partially due to injuries, but he had a really strong July. Though he’s slowed down some in August, he still provides versatility off of the bench that could be useful to the Cubs, especially if Russell is slowed even more by his injury. A 40-man spot would need to be cleared for Weeks to be added, but there’s an outside shot the Cubs bring him up to help off the bench.

Chances of a call-up: 3 out of 10

The Speed Options

Jacob Hannemann, OF
Hannemann hasn’t been great with the bat this year, but the Cubs wouldn’t really need his bat in the outfield. Instead they could definitely use his speed and defense down the stretch. He’s a good defender at all three outfield spots and definitely a threat to steal a base. Across two levels this year he has stolen 24 bases in 29 attempts after stealing 26 in 34 attempts last year. And because he is already on the 40-man roster, expect Hannemann to make his big league debut in September.

Chances of a call-up: 10 out of 10

John Andreoli, OF
Andreoli is the other speed option down the stretch. While he’s not the defender that Hannemann is, Andreoli is also a very good base stealer. Across three seasons in Iowa, Andreoli has stolen 102 bases in 131 attempts. He’s added some power to his repertoire this year that has always included good plate discipline, though he does strike out a ton. The tough part for Andreoli is he’d need to be added to the 40-man, while Hannemann wouldn’t.

Chances of a call-up: 3 out of 10

In the end, the Cubs will definitely need some reinforcements come September. While there are a number of quality candidates, here is my prediction for who will get called up: Seth Frankoff, Pierce Johnson, Jack Leathersich, Rob Zastryzny, Dillon Maples, Victor Caratini, Jacob Hannemann and Mark Zagunis (If healthy).

Lead photo courtesy Caylor Arnold—USA Today Sports

Related Articles

1 comment on “Breaking Down the September Call-Up Options”

Michael Smith

What about Mike Freeman? I know he’s not on the 40 but there is nobody behind Javy who can play SS.

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username