This article is part of our In Some Depth series.
As we hit the latter-half of August, you're probably getting tired of the same old players. Or you're probably tired of your star player missing the rest of the season with some random injury. Well you're in luck, as the September call-ups are only a few weeks away. It's still a bit early to know exactly who is coming up, and it's easy to get caught up in some of the rumor mill about this top prospect, or that Triple-A standout. In reality, most of the guys are probably going to be seventh starters, one-out relievers, or uber-utility guys. However, some managers and general managers have begun to let slip some more intriguing names, which we'll discuss.
Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI
I poo-poo'd the idea earlier this season that the Phillies might recall Franco to take over the third base role from Cody Asche. At the time, Asche could barely hit MLB pitching, but Franco could barely hit Triple-A pitching. Hence, Franco did not even enter the conversation when the Phillies were using the likes of Cesar Hernandez and Reid Brignac at third base in late-May and early-August. But now things have changed. Asche still can't hit MLB pitching, but Franco has hit .301/.328/.528 with a respectable 14-percent K-rate since the beginning of July. The performance even has general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitting that Franco will most likely get an audition come September. A strong showing should put him in the mix for a starting role in 2015.
Jorge Soler, OF, CHC
Soler has probably been the fourth or fifth most-buzzed-about prospect in the Cubs' organization this season, but that is not a bad thing when your system is as deep as theirs. He may not have the luster of a Kris Bryant or a Javier Baez, or the defensive versatility of an Arismendy Alcantara, but he has hit the ball as well as anyone since returning from injury mid-season. Soler has only hit .241 since joining Triple-A Iowa in late-July, but he is slugging north of .500 and has nearly as many walks (12) as strikeouts (18). General manager Jed Hoyer said Soler is "under consideration" for a September showing. If he does get the call, then there is no reason that he should not play every day. Neither of the Cubs' corner outfield spots is occupied by long-term options (Chris Coghlan, Ryan Sweeney, and Justin Ruggiano likely won't have starting roles in five months). Even if Junior Lake makes the trek back to Chicago with Soler, the latter will likely receive the playing time edge.
Carlos Rodon, RP, CWS
In Some Depth doesn't typically cover pitchers, especially pitchers likely to serve in non-starting, non-saving roles. However, Rodon gets a mention here since it's becoming more and more likely that the No. 3 overall pick from June's draft will receive the "Chris Sale" treatment and get called up to the show just months after leaving college. Rodon was a late-signee, but he is already at Triple-A Charlotte after striking out 20 batters in his first 12.1 innings. This route to the majors had been heavily speculated about ever since Rodon got drafted, and manager Robin Ventura pushed those rumors closer to reality over the weekend. Rodon will be limited to a few relief innings in the season's final month, but there is a very good chance he is in the mix for a rotation spot in 2015. Hence, those in keeper leagues will have their first crack at an elite talent from the 2014 draft class.
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Joc Pederson, OF, LAD
One of the most commonly asked-about prospects during this year's run of In Some Depth has been the Pederson. Perhaps it has been the ineptitude of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, or the general discontent with Matt Kemp (he's not an MVP, but he does have a 126 OPS+), but the LA folks want to see the kid from Palo Alto. Pederson is putting up the typical PCL-inflated video game-esque stats, but it also looks like he is about to become the first 30-30 player in PCL history…. as a 22-year-old. He also was a 20-30 player last year in the not-so-crazy Southern League. General manager Ned Coletti said on the radio the other day that Pederson will be up on September 1, but it is not clear yet if he will start every day in left field. Crawford could obviously move to the bench without much protest, but the Dodgers are also October-bound, and it is not clear if they would entrust a lineup spot to a guy with a month of MLB experience.
Alex Guerrero, SS, LAD
Along with Pederson, Coletti also said Guerrero will head to Chavez Ravine come the calendar change. Guerrero has returned from the ear-biting incident in late-July, but his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all below .300 in his first 21 games back. That being said, have you seen the players the Dodgers have been sending into the middle infield lately? Darwin Barney started at shortstop Sunday, Miguel Rojas is slugging .262, and Hanley Ramirez may be headed to third base when he returns from the DL. So the Dodgers may be wise to see if Guerrero can elevate his game against MLB pitching.
Jonathan Villar, SS, HOU
Unlike the other guys mentioned thus far on this list, Villar has already seen significant time in the majors this season. He fell flat as the Astros' everyday shortstop for the first half of the season, but he has a .382 OBP and is 20-for-26 in stolen base attempts in 38 games since his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. General manager Jeff Luhnow mentioned Villar by name in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle, speculating that he would be one of a half-dozen guys to join the Astros in September. He only needs to bump the unspectacular Marwin Gonzalez, who may be better suited for a utility role, to play everyday at short. Even if Villar only returns to the Astros' bench, his shortstop eligibility and base-stealing ability should garner a look for fantasy purposes.
Domingo Santana, OF, HOU
The Houston Chronicle article with Luhnow's interview also speculated that Domingo Santana, given his presence on the 40-man roster, would warrant a September recall. Santana went hitless during a six-game spell in the majors earlier this season, but he has been pretty good at Triple-A Oklahoma City, and he hit over 20 home runs in his age-19 and 20 seasons. There should be a spot for him in the Houston outfield, depending on George Springer's continually-delayed rehab from a quadriceps injury. If Springer is on the field, then Santana would have to compete with Jake Marisnick and Robbie Grossman for at-bats.
James McCann, C, DET
This one has not been verified by anyone in Tigers leadership yet, but it looks like it may happen. It is tough to ignore a catcher with a .796 OPS at Triple-A Toledo, which is exactly what McCann is doing. He will not eclipse the likes of Alex Avila and Bryan Holiday on the depth chart, but he could get some looks against lefties down the stretch. McCann has a .362/.420/.509 slash line against left-handed pitchers this season, whereas the left-handed Avila has gone just .215/.263/.301 against southpaws. Avila also hasn't done much in the past few years, posting a .232 average in the three seasons since his All-Star 2011 campaign. Hence, McCann could be in the mix for 2015.