September call-ups to watch (cont.)
Long considered the heir apparent to free-agent-to-be Carl Crawford, Jennings may get a bit role this September. Tampa Bay's recent acquisition of Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe likely cut into the at-bats Jennings will get, but the speedster could serve as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, similar to what outfielder Fernando Perez did with the Rays during their playoff run in 2008. Jennings began the year slowly because of injuries, but in 108 games in Triple A he has a .363 OBP and leads the International League with 37 stolen bases.
Less heralded and older than Chapman, the 28-year-old Maya quietly signed a four-year, $6 million contract on July 31. He won the Cuban National Series' equivalent of the Cy Young Award last year after going 13-4 with seven complete games and a 2.22 ERA. In four starts on three minor league levels in August, he was 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 15-2/3 innings, but had 15 strikeouts. After defecting last fall, Maya wasn't cleared to sign with a major league team until May, so building his arm strength back has been a process. He's expected to join fellow Cuban Livan Hernandez in the Nationals' rotation, though Maya won't be going very deep in games.
Hellickson isn't the only Ray getting a crash course in relief pitching in the minors. McGee, a 6'-3" lefty, is doing it at Triple A, presumably in order to help the big league club this fall. He had a 3.57 ERA in 19 starts in Double A before he was promoted to Durham, where he's made one start and seven relief appearances with spectacular results. He has yet to allow an earned run in 12-2/3 innings and has yielded only four hits and one walk while striking out 20. Randy Choate has been Tampa Bay's only lefthanded reliever all season -- though he's allowed only one earned run since July 18, his ERA before that date was 6.56 -- so McGee would be another weapon out of the bullpen, one that can also get righties out.
A 6'-6", 260-pound corner outfielder, Taylor hasn't had quite the season he likely expected in Triple A. He's hit .263 with just five home runs and a poor .381 slugging percentage, but he was a coveted prospect in the Phillies system. He was traded last offseason amid a flurry of deals at the time Philadelphia acquired Roy Halladay. While splitting time in Double A and Triple A in 2009, Taylor mashed 20 home runs with a .320 average, .395 OBP and .549 slugging pct. Oakland is surely hoping for some good news from its top hitting prospects after Chris Carter started his major league career 0-for-19 before being sent back down to Triple A.
Trumbo has little more to prove in Triple A after belting his Salt Lake Bees-record 32nd and 33rd home runs on Monday night. He also has 113 RBI and a .302 average in 132 games. This is his first year at Triple A, but it's surprising that he didn't get an earlier shot at the majors, given the injury to Angels first baseman Kendry Morales. Trumbo has played 23 games in the outfield this year to increase his versatility for when Morales returns next season. In September, he should get plenty of opportunities to see what his bat can do while he makes himself comfortable at first base.