Every season on September 1st, Major League Baseball teams are allowed to expand their 25 man active rosters. Each club has the ability to bring up to 15 additional players to the big leagues with a full 40 man roster. Teams almost never call up that many players, of course, but this is a time of year when contenders may call up a couple of power bench bats, additional relief help, or base stealing specialists that may give them an edge in September; a rebuilding team, on the other hand, could use this time to reward players who have performed well during the minor league season or as a chance to get a look at some of their best young prospects against big league competition. Last season our beloved Milwaukee Brewers fell into the rebuilder category, but this year they are right in the thick of things in both the NL Central and Wild Card races.
Call ups often come in waves, with perhaps a couple of players coming right away on the first of September and then more reinforcements once the minor league season (and playoffs, if a team qualifies) is officially in the books. We know that the AAA Sky Sox have already punched their ticket to the postseason, which could potentially delay a few call ups until later in the month. Milwaukee’s 40 man roster is also currently full, which means that if they want to bring any non-40 man players up to the big leagues, corresponding moves will need to be made.
So, who might we see get the call up to Milwaukee? Here are some of the position players that we could see suiting up for the Brewers during the final month of the season:
Players on the 40 man roster:
OF Lewis Brinson
Milwaukee’s #1 prospect (per MLB Pipeline) was outstanding for AAA Colorado Springs this season, batting .331/.400/.562 (146 wRC+) with 13 homers and 11 steals in 76 games. He cobbled together only a meager .513 OPS in 21 games in the MLB this season, though, and is currently recovering from a hamstring strain. It’s unclear at this point if he’ll be healthy in time to join the team later on in September.
OF Brett Phillips
After struggling last season in AA Biloxi, the thin air of Colorado Springs did Milwaukee’s #12 prospect some good in 2017. The left-handed hitter has batted .309/.381/.574 (142 wRC+) with 19 home runs and 9 stolen bases through 103 games this year. He also fared a bit better than Brinson during his brief big league trial, posting a .229/.289/.429 slash in 15 games.
IF Yadiel Rivera
Rivera is a slick-fielding, no-hit infielder who has been on Milwaukee’s 40 man for the last three seasons. In that time he has appeared in 43 MLB games, batting .183/.202/.232 in 88 plate appearances, including going hitless in two trips to the plate during a brief call up this summer. He’s been pretty awful in 2017 while playing almost everyday for Colorado Springs, batting .213/.275/.311 (49 wRC+) with 5 long balls and 5 steals in 101 games. Given his proficient defense at second base, third base, and shortstop, though, Rivera could have value as a late-inning defensive replacement down the stretch as Milwaukee has played in plenty of close ballgames all year long.
Players on the Disabled List:
C Jett Bandy
Bandy made the Opening Day roster after being acquired from the Angels last winter, but was sent down after the Brewers picked up Stephen Vogt off waivers. He was recalled in July after Vogt got hurt, but suffered an injury of his own on August 3rd and has been on the DL ever since. There’s hope he could take some batting practice this week and return to the roster before season’s end. Bandy has batted .214/.294/.365 (71 wRC+) with 6 home runs in 50 big league games this year.
C Andrew Susac
Some thought Susac might be Milwaukee’s Opening Day catcher, but 2017 has turned into a mostly lost season for the former top-100 prospect. A spring training injury cost him a few weeks early in the year, and then he batted only .205/.307/.404 (80 wRC+) with 8 home runs in 50 games in AAA. He was pressed into big league action when Bandy got hurt, but collected only 6 hitless plate appearances before landing on the DL again on August 18th. It’s unclear if he’ll recover in time to rejoin the team this season.
Other Potential Non-40 Man Roster Players
1B/OF Chris Colabello
Signed to a minor league deal back in July, the former Twin and Blue Jay has batted a stellar .305/.410/.511 (143 wRC+) with 6 dingers in 37 games for Colorado Springs. The 33 year old could perhaps serve as a power bat off the bench.
IF Ivan De Jesus
The 30 year old former Dodger, Red Sock, and Red signed a minor league deal with the Brewers last winter. He’s been one of Colorado Springs’ best bats all year, hitting .343/.407/.486 (135 wRC+) with 7 long balls while playing every infield position.
UTIL Nate Orf
A former undrafted free agent, Orf has been excellent for Colorado Springs all season long. He’s batted .309/.384/.491 (126 wRC+) with 8 home runs in 118 games while playing both the infield and outfield.
C Rene Garcia
Garcia missed some time this year after a scary collision in spring training, but he’s batted .338/.373/.461 (123 wRC+) with 4 homers in 45 games between AA and AAA this season. If neither Bandy nor Susac can get healthy, this might be an opportune time for Garcia to get his first big league call up as emergency catcher.
OF Kyle Wren
One of the Sky Sox top bats the past couple of seasons, the lefty-hitting Wren is batting .291/.372/.405 (107 wRC+) with 4 homers and 24 steals this season. He doesn’t offer much power but could be a useful pinch runner.
IF Nick Noonan
Once a top prospect with the Giants, Noonan began this year on a minor league deal with the Brewers. He was traded to the Marlins for cash in May only to be reacquired by Milwaukee a month later. The 28 year old left-handed hitter has posted a .307/.346/.430 slash (101 wRC+) with 2 homers in 57 games for the Sky Sox.
OF Quintin Berry
The journeyman outfielder signed a minor league deal with the Brewers a couple weeks ago after stops with the Twins and in independent league ball this season. He’s collected 3 singles and a homer so far in 4 games with Colorado Springs, but he makes his bones on the basepaths. Berry has appeared in 31 MLB games since 2013, pinch running in 23 of them, and is 27/28 in steal attempts during parts of four big league seasons.
C Tyler Heineman
Acquired this spring from David Stearns’ old club, the Astros, Heineman has batted .278/.333/.406 (91 wRC+) with 2 homers in 61 games for Colorado Springs while also throwing out 44% of would-be base thieves. The switch-hitter is in a similar spot to Rene Garcia, still looking for his first MLB call up.
IF Mauricio Dubon
Milwaukee’s #9 prospect has certainly made an impression during his first season in the organization, batting .275/.331/.378 (96 wRC+) with 7 home runs and 38 stolen bases in 122 games between AA and AAA. He’ll need to be added to the 40 man this winter to avoid the Rule 5 draft; perhaps Milwaukee will add him early and give him a look off the bench in September?
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Captain Kirk made Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster this year, but has been outrighted twice while batting only .115/.258/.269 in 16 MLB games. He’s been better in Colorado Springs, where he’s hit .247/.359/.371 (94 wRC+) with 4 homers in 80 games.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs
Tickets are still available for the Brew Crew Ball Meet Up, scheduled to take place at the September 1st game against Washington at Miller Park. Game tickets must be purchased by August 31st. For more information and to purchase your tickets, follow this link!