It is nearly September, when MLB rosters can be expanded to 40 players, allowing teams to get some extra arms in the bullpen, along with late-inning defensive upgrades, potential speed on the bases, and maybe a little thump on the end of the bench. It's also a time when teams often call up talented prospects to give them a proverbial cup of coffee in the big leagues and give the hometown fans a chance to see players expected to play a big role in the club's future.
For the Indians, no one better fits that bill than Francisco Lindor, the 20-year-old shortstop ranked among the top five or six prospects in baseball by most of the major outlets. Other talents many fans would like to see include third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who has had a breakout season at the plate, and outfielders Tyler Naquin, Carlos Moncrief, and James Ramsey, each of whom has their strengths, and could end up a starter in Cleveland at some point.
Moncrief is already on the 40-man roster, so no additional moves would have to be made in order to bring him up. The Indians also have an opening on the 40-man roster, which could be filled by any of these other guys without anything having to be moved off the roster. Urshela is probably the most pressing case, because the Indians will either put him on the 40-man roster or lose him to another team this offseason. The 40-man also has a couple names few fans would be heartbroken to see go, so there's probably room for them to add almost all of these players in September, but recent history says they won't.
Here is a full list of players who've made their MLB debut for the Indians during the last ten Septembers:
- 2013: Jose Ramirez
- 2012: Thomas Neal
- 2011: Nick Hagadone (P), Corey Kluber (P), and Zach Putnam (P)
- 2010: Vinnie Pestano (P)
- 2009: Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco (P), and Niuman Romero
- 2008: Scott Lewis (P), Rick Rundles (P)
- 2007: no one
- 2006: Kevin Kouzmanoff and Juan Lara (P)
- 2005: Ryan Garko
- 2004: Francisco Cruceta (P), Kyle Denney (P), Jake Robbins (P)
That's 17 players over the last 10 Septembers, 11 of them pitchers, 6 of them position players.
Here is each of those players with their ranking on Baseball America's Top 30 Indians prospects list for the offseason following their MLB debut, along with their career WAR (Baseball-Reference) to date:
|Player||BA ranking after debut||Career WAR to date|
*Kouzmanoff was traded a few weeks after the 2006 season ended, and so his ranking was with the Padres.
That's only 7 top ten prospects in the last 10 years who were called up to make their MLB debut for the Indians in September.
Other BA top 100 prospects who made their MLB debut with the Indians:
- Grady Sizemore (July, 2004)
- Jeremy Guthrie (August, 2004)
- Franklin Gutierrez (August, 2005)
- Fausto Carmona (April, 2006)
- Jeremy Sowers (June, 2006)
- Michael Aubrey (May, 2008)
- Trevor Crowe (April, 2009)
- Matt LaPorta (May, 2009)
- Carlos Santana, (June, 2010)
- Alex White (April, 2011)
- Lonnie Chisenhall (June, 2011)
- Jason Kipnis (July, 2011)
The Indians very well could call up Lindor next month, but the last ten years of club history would seem to say the team prefers not to give its best prospects that kind of debut. Urshela and or one of the outfielders seem like a more likely case, given the club's track record.