Good morning and welcome to September, where baseball's season-long roster rules make a dramatic shift.
Starting with today's games, the 25-man roster limit is gone and any player on a team's 40-man roster is eligible to be activated and play in major league games. The Brewers marked the occasion by recalling reliever Donovan Hand from Nashville moments ago.
Hand has pitched in 21 games for the Brewers this season, including seven starts, and posted a 3.75 ERA over 57.2 innings of work. His peripheral numbers suggest that initial success could be a challenge to maintain: His low strikeout rate (4.7 per nine innings) is a bit of a concern and he's already given up nine home runs in the majors (1.4 per nine innings).
Hand posted a 3.28 ERA over 20 relief appearances for Nashville this season, and pitched a scoreless inning for the Sounds yesterday. It's not known at this point if he'll arrive in time for today's game, but the Brewers already had a locker ready for him last night.
Meanwhile, the Brewers may have reached the end of the road with another longtime prospect. Mark Rogers' minor league rehab assignment expires today and the Brewers have opted to remove him from the 40-man roster instead of activating him. Rogers, who was the #5 overall pick in the 2004 draft, made just 12 minor league appearances across three levels this season and posted a 5.16 ERA over 22.2 innings, walking six batters per nine innings.
Rogers will be a minor league free agent this winter, leaving the door open for a possible return. If this is it for him, though, he leaves the Brewer organization having pitched in eleven MLB games between the 2010 and 2012 seasons.
Finally, Tom Haudricourt is speculating that reliever Michael Blazek could be the PTBNL in the John Axford trade. He's 24 years old and appeared in eleven games for St. Louis this season, posting a 6.97 ERA over 10.1 innings with ten walks and ten strikeouts.
Blazek was recently optioned by the Cardinals but did not report to a minor league affiliate, leading Haudricourt to believe his status could be in limbo while he waits to clear waivers. It's also possible he didn't report to an affiliate because the Cardinals were planning on immediately recalling him when rosters expand today.
Blazek had a great year in the minors in 2013, posting a 1.97 ERA and striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings over 36 appearances between AA and AAA. Before the season John Sickels rated him as a C prospect, and here's an excerpt from his blurb in the 2013 Prospect Book:
Blazek was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster this past off-season. A 35th round pick back in 2007 out of high school in Las Vegas, he hasn't shown up on prospect lists given the very deep nature of the Cardinals farm system, plus his own mediocre performance record. However, something clicked last year when he moved into relief at Springfield: He posted a 2.59 ERA with a 60/14 K/BB in 49 innings with just 31 hits allowed. Note the outstanding K/IP and H/IP marks. If he maintains that in 2013, he could slot very nicely into the St. Louis bullpen at some point.