As the calendar counts down to September, there are two things Milwaukee Brewers fans are looking forward to: the end of this disastrous season and September call-ups.
While many fans are already constructing offseason trades and signings to get the Crew back on track for 2016, the core of the future lies in the farm system. But how much of that future will the Brewers be able to bring to The Show in September?
For those looking for a month with shortstop Orlando Arcia, center fielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez, you will be disappointed. First, the regular season for minor-league teams doesn’t happen until Sept. 7. Second, the Biloxi Shuckers, the Brewers’ shiny new Double-A affiliate where Arcia, Phillips and Lopez are, won a first-half division title in the Southern League and will be involved in the playoffs, likely adding one, if not two weeks to their minor-league assignment. After all, why blow up the Biloxi roster when the Brewers have created so much good there in the first season on the Gulf Coast.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few prospects the Brewers won’t take a look at in September. Just look to Colorado Springs, the Triple-A affiliate who has the second-worst record in the Pacific Coast League.
The two most intriguing names are outfielder Domingo Santana and right-hander Zach Davies. Call-ups must be put on the 40-man roster and the Brewers have three openings there following their deadline dealings. Santana, however, is already on the 40-man. Davies would need to be added, a move lame-duck general manager Doug Melvin has already indicated would happen.
Santana has already appeared in the majors this season, when injuries prompted the Houston Astros to bring him up. In 14 games, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-handed hitter hit .256 with two home runs and eight RBIs. He also had a cameo in 2014, going 0-for-18. But in Triple-A with the Astros and Brewers this season, Santana — already the Crew’s No. 4 prospect — is mashing. He is batting .326 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 88 games.
Santana, who just turned 23, is a corner outfielder and figures to see more time in left as he pushes enigmatic Khris Davis and an occasional start in right for All-Star Ryan Braun. He is a middle-of-the-order bat who has generally hit for a good average. Santana, who has a strong arm and also strikes out quite a bit, will go to spring training next year with a shot to be the starter in left.
While Santana appears to be an imposing force, Davies — acquired from the Baltimore Orioles — is the complete opposite.
At 6-foot and 160 pounds, Davies looks more like a batboy than a major-league pitcher — but that look will give him an edge as he breaks into The Show. With his slight build, Davies, 22, is as expected a control pitcher and his change-up is one of the best in the minors, helping him strike out 91 in 111.1 innings between Triple-A Norfolk and Colorado Springs. He has a 3.07 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
Davies, the Brewers’ No. 11 prospect, figures to slot into the back end of a rotation, but could move up if he develops Greg Maddux-like control.
Another intriguing player likely to be promoted is third baseman Matt Dominguez, who has appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons with the Marlins and Astros. Dominguez was once a highly touted prospect, taken 12th overall int he 2007 draft by the Marlins, but he couldn’t stay in the majors once he got there due to his low batting average.
Dominguez, 25, is on the 40-man roster and brings power and defense, hitting .254 with six homers and 45 RBIs between Triple-A Fresno and Colorado Springs. The Brewers claimed Dominguez off waivers from the Astros on June 16.
Any other call-ups that happen immediately will be simple roster bolstering. Those will likely include reliever Brandon Kintzler and possibly former Brewers closer Jim Henderson, as well as infielder Luis Sardinas, catcher Juan Centeno and first baseman Matt Clark. Henderson is the only one who would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
If Davies and Henderson are added to the 40-man, that leaves one more spot on the 40-man for a September call-up. If Biloxi gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Arcia — perhaps the Brewers’ starting shortstop next year — is the most likely candidate to come up as a reward for his stellar season.
So as you can see, Santana and Davies are the headliners for call-ups, but even among the other names mentioned, only Arcia is likely to make Brewers fans salivate. Not all of these players will necessarily be called up as carrying upwards of 35 players is cumbersome.