With the passing of the Super-2 deadline, teams are now free to promote prospects based on merit without having to factor any financial considerations into the equation. With the additional Wild Card spots that began last year, there are more teams who consider themselves in contention at the time the trade deadline passes, leaving the trade market without much on its shelves. The combination of these two factors means that teams are more reliant than ever on reinforcing their playoff runs from within, promoting their own organizational depth rather than trying to add a piece from the outside.
Additionally, teams who are not contending are free to bring players up and get their feet wet for next season, as we saw the Mets do recently with Zack Wheeler in a move that mirrored what they did last year with Matt Harvey, a move that seems to have worked out well for them. Wheeler is just one of many prospects who could still make his major league debut this season, and could do so on non-contending teams in hopes of preparing for 2014.
So in that light, let's look at the prospects who could still get the call this season, whether to help their organization make a run at October, or to get ready for next season.
Reinforcements for Contenders
Atlanta Braves - The Braves crowded major league roster simply doesn't have a lot of room for potential call-ups. Alex Wood already got the call, but had to shift to the bullpen in order to see the field. The most major league-ready impact player they have left to call on is 1B/OF Joey Terdoslavich, who will probably get a September call-up and could hit his way onto the post-season roster as a bench player. On most teams, Terdoslavich would already have been called up, but the Braves simply don't have a place to play him.
Washington Nationals - The Nationals don't have much in the way of impact talent left at the upper levels of the minors. Anthony Rendon already got the call, and thanks to Danny Espinosa's demotion becoming official, it looks like he's going to stay at second base for the time being. If the Nats need pitching reinforcements, left-hander Danny Rosenbaum, who they lost in the Rule V draft but got back, has been pitching well in Triple-A, but he's a low-ceiling player. Chris Marrero has been up and down and Eury Perez could slide in as a defensive replacement right now, although the Nats outfield is already crowded. The Nationals are a team that will have to add from the outside if they want to make a move.
Cincinnati Reds - Many were calling for the Reds to promote Billy Hamilton last season during his mad-dash at the minor league stolen base record to serve as a pinch-runner extraordinaire during the post-season. The Reds resisted, knowing that Hamilton would be unable to contribute in any way with the bat or in the field, but now as an outfielder who has spent the entire season in Triple-A, Hamilton could be more prepared to contribute with more than just his legs. He's not hitting well in Louisville, but the experience against advanced pitching would give him more of a fighting chance in the majors should he have to bat. Of course, he'd still be on the post-season roster primarily for his base running ability.
Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates have one of the deeper farm systems in the game, but with Gerrit Cole and Starling Marte already in the majors, there's not much left on the immediate horizon to help them this season. Jameson Taillon will likely be next, but he's still in Double-A and the Pirates have historically been very methodical with their promotions. It would be a surprise to see him get to the majors this season. The same goes for Gregory Polanco, who just got to Dobule-A this season. The best the Pirates can probably do from their Triple-A team is to promote Tony Sanchez to be their backup catcher, but even that has some complications.
St. Louis Cardinals - You have to think that Oscar Taveras will be up at some point this season, although the same roster issues that forced him to the minors this spring still exist. Taveras has been unspectacular in Triple-A this season, although only by his standards. The talent is very much still there. Most of the reinforcements the Cardinals can expect have already made an appearance in the majors, like Michael Wacha, who will be back later this summer and could fill a need either in the rotation or in the bullpen in October, depending on injuries and needs.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Don't forget about Adam Eaton, who was expected to be the team's starting center fielder and leadoff man but has missed the entire season with a lingering elbow injury. He's tried rehabbing but has continued to aggravate the injury. It could be a lost season for Eaton, but if he's healthy by late-summer, the Diamondbacks will give him a chance to earn back the leadoff spot, a desperate need for the D-Backs. Also don't sleep on Tyler Skaggs. The organization's top pitching prospect has been up and down, but if a need arises, or if the Diamondbacks want to use him out of the pen the way the Cardinals do with their young pitching prospects (something they have not shown a desire to do), then we could see Skaggs again this season.
San Francisco Giants - In a farm system that has been weak for a few years, there's not much help on the way. Gary Brown could be a defensive replacement down the stretch, but his prospect stock has fallen badly since he's shown an inability to hit anywhere outside of the California League. The Giants will have to be buyers on the trade market if they want to add pieces.
Baltimore Orioles - We already saw the one big piece the Orioles have to add from within, but Kevin Gausman struggled making the jump from Double-A to the majors. I'd expect him to be back at some point, but how much he can contribute will depend on the adjustments he makes in Triple-A. Otherwise, the only potential impact player the Orioles have to bring up is Jonathan Schoop, but even he will only have a limited impact as a platoon player at second base against lefties. Still, given the Orioles second base situation this season, that could be an improvement. Schoop is currently injured, but he'll be back in time to help should the Orioles decide they need it.
Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox are in the enviable position of being able to promote impact talent from within in what is shaping up to be a weak trade market. Jackie Bradley has struggled in the majors, but he still has the abilities that could come in useful on a post-season roster. Expect him back in the majors this season. The same goes for Allen Webster, who has been working as a starter in the minors but could be a dynamic bullpen arm on a team whose bullpen is in a state of flux. The guy you aren't likely to see, however, is Xander Bogaerts, who was just promoted to Triple-A. Of course, any or all of these guys could be traded for a "proven closer" should the Sox decide to go that direction.
New York Yankees - The Yankees have one of the least-exciting farm systems in baseball and that should make for one of the least-exciting call-up seasons. Where are the Yankees getting help? Melky Mesa to help with outfield defense? Dellin Betances to help with, I don't know, walking guys? There's just not much there at the upper levels of the minors. Now if the Yankees want to go after a player in the trade market, they have some interesting prospects lower in the minors like Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin and Mason Williams who could be attractive to other teams, but none are able to help this fall.
Tampa Bay Rays - perhaps no team was more conscious of the Super 2 deadline than the Rays, as evidenced by their withholding of Wil Myers until just recently. But with the deadline, we're going to see Myers and the entire Durham Bulls pitching - Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome, Chris Archer, and perhaps even Mike Montgomery - at some point this fall. The Rays have shown a historical pattern of being willing to use young arms in high leverage situations in the post-season, and don't be surprised to see them repeat that trend.
Detroit Tigers - Any help on the way for the Tigers will come in the form of either Nick Castellanos or Bruce Rondon. After that, there's a big drop off in impact talent. Of course those are also the two names every team with a closer to trade is asking about, so it's just as likely that one or both could be traded as they could be promoted. Either way, they're both unlikely to finish the year in Toledo.
Oakland A's - The A's are at it again and are once again using youth as a weapon. They have more talent waiting in Triple-A, but don't necessarily have a spot to put them. The most obvious call-up would be Grant Green, the former first round pick who is now playing second base full-time. The keystone has been an offensive black hole for the A's this season except for when Jed Lowrie plays there, but Green would allow Lowrie to stay at short and he should be able to best Eric Sogard's 89 wRC+ with the bat. If injuries arise, the A's also have outfielder Michael Choice and starting pitcher Sonny Gray available, both of whom are having strong seasons for Sacramento.
Texas Rangers - In a farm system this deep, it's hard to believe that more help isn't on the way. Jurickson Profar is already in Arlington, only he's in left field now instead of short or second. Mike Olt is in Triple-A and is healthy again, at least healthy enough to be playing. His game's not too healthy with a .199/.290/.412 line in 37 games. He also has yet to be tried in the outfield and hasn't played anywhere besides third base this season, which he's not going to be playing in the majors. Martin Perez is still around to help, and he's still only 22 even though it feels like he's been around forever. But he's never been able to put up production that matched his talent or prospect status. Perhaps he could help out of the Rangers pen, but given the young pitchers the Rangers have used in their rotation, it appears Perez has been passed on the organizational depth chart as a starter.
Preparing for Next Year
New York Mets - Tuesday's doubleheader, which featured Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and a glimpse into the Mets future, was an exciting day for the franchise, but when your best day of the season is a Tuesday in June, it's just not your year. With both pitchers in the majors, the biggest impact talent talent has already arrived. Wilmer Flores is the most major league-ready hitter and has been playing second base this year giving the organization a decision to make on either his positional future or that of Daniel Murphy. Regardless, expect the Mets to give Flores a look in the majors this September to gauge where he stands in next year's plans. The same could be said for right-hander Rafael Montero, who has already pitched his way to Triple-A this season. He could be on a schedule to Wheeler just one year behind, which means he won't come up at all this season, but the Mets could also choose to give him a start this September.
Miami Marlins - It was around this time we thought we'd be seeing the likes of Jose Fernandez, but the marlins spat in the face of rationality long ago, meaning we could see anybody get called up this season. Most likely is Christian Yelich, if he can stay healthy. Their top position prospect has battled injuries this season and has only played in 41 games, but he's in Double-A and is their future in center field. He's not ready to come to the majors, but neither was Marcell Ozuna and that didn't stop the Marlins. Simply for the sake of selling tickets and giving people something to talk about, I'd expect Yelich to be up late in the year.
Chicago Cubs - Most of the Cubs building blocks for the future - Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, to name a few - are in the lower minors, so the Wrigley faithful won't get a glimpse this season into their next competitive team. There's not much to look forward to here, but we should get to see Brett Jackson take a few more swings, and likely misses, in his last chance to prove he can be a part of the Cubs future.
Milwaukee Brewers - At least the Cubs have impact talent in the minors. The Brewers don't even have that. They do have some pieces in Triple-A that should get called up, like Johnny Hellweg, who is starting in the minors and will likely get a chance to in Milwaukee, but is probably destined for the bullpen long-term.
Chicago White Sox - The White Sox could have the least-exciting farm system in baseball, and that doesn't leave their fans with much to look forward to when it comes to call-ups. Their Triple-A team has some guys like Simon Castro and Andre Rienzo who provide organizational pitching depth, but we'll only see them if they trade a major league starter and need guys to help finish out the season. There's no one here to get excited about.
Minnesota Twins - Finally, we have a bad team with a good farm system. Of course, like the Cubs, most of the Twins impact talent is in the low minors, and no, we're not going to get to see Byron Buxton this season, so please don't ask. But the Twins should be calling up Kyle Gibson within the next few weeks, and he'll join their rotation and never look back. He's not an ace, but he should be a reliable mid-rotation starter for the next few years.
Houston Astros - The Astros have help on the way, and we should get to see some of it soon. Jonathan Singleton has worked his way back to Triple-A from his pot vacation. The Astros might not want to reward his idiocy with a promotion, but he'll become their best hitter the minute he gets to Houston. The real depth is in their starting rotation, where Jarred Cosart, Ross Seaton, Brett Oberholtzer and Asher Wojciechoswki could all get shots to prove their readiness in various ways.
Seattle Mariners - Well, the Mariners already called up Nick Franklin and then rushed catcher Mike Zunino to the majors, so there's no telling what they'll do next. Brad Miller his hitting well since being called up to Triple-A, so I'd expect him to get a late-season taste of the majors. On the mound is where the depth was thought to be, but Danny Hultzen hasn't pitched since April with a shoulder injury and James Paxton has struggled. Of course, Zunino was struggling when he got promoted, so we could still see Paxton this fall.
Too Soon to Tell
Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies should probably be sellers, but even if they should be, they won't admit it. That being the case, they will be looking towards the minors for reinforcements. But they won't find much. Cody Asche is being touted as the third baseman of the future and could steal some late-season at-bats from Michael Young, but Asche isn't the future. At best, he's the Phillies third baseman until Maikel Franco gets to town, which won't be this season. And to answer the question on most Phillies' fans minds, no, we probably won't see Jesse Biddle this season.
Colorado Rockies - Nolan Arenado was the big prize from the Rockies farm system, but he's already in Denver. That doesn't leave much help on the way, but the Rockies could call upon Drew Pomeranz to help their pitching staff. He's not a technically prospect, but you get the idea.
Los Angeles Dodgers - What, Yasiel Puig isn't enough for you? Unfortunately, the presence of Puig and the rest of the veterans in the crowded Dodgers outfield leave no room for the Dodgers top remaining position prospect, Joc Pederson. He's only in Double-A anyway so he probably wasn't getting the call, but he was rumored to be in consideration when Matt Kemp went on the DL. Now there's simply not room for him. Chris Withrow recently got the call and has re-invented himself as a useful reliever. He should be able to stick in the major league pen.
San Diego Padres - The Padres clawed all the way back into the playoff race only to get hit with the injury bug. On-base specialist Jaff Decker got a brief call-up to the majors but didn't appear in a game. Still, he should be back at some point and could provide the offense a unique spark. Kevin Quackenbush just received a promotion to Triple-A, and relievers tend to move quickly. His power-arm could help the Padres bullpen down the stretch.
Toronto Blue Jays - In last place but only a game below .500 and surging, the Jays could still play any role at the trade deadline. Thanks in large part to their off-season trades, the Jays have little in Triple-A that we haven't already seen in the majors. If they want to make a move, it will probably have to come via a trade.
Cleveland Indians - Any help coming from the minors for the Indians is coming in the form of Trevor Bauer. They don't have any impact bats that are ready to help, but Bauer should be ready to help the Indians as soon as they are ready to give him the keys to the rotation. They'll have to deal with his unique personality and all of the walks that come with his pitching style, but he has the ability to change the dynamic of their rotation.
Kansas City Royals - Boy, Wil Myers sure would help. James Shields has been great, but it's left the Royals offense without any help on the horizon. Literally nothing. If the Royals want to add a bat, it's going to come from outside the organization.
Los Angeles Angels - The Angels should be sellers, but with their payroll, they're not going to be unloading much. With one of the weakest farm systems in the majors, there's also not much on the horizon for the Angels future. The Angels are essentially what they are heading into the future.