This article is part of our In Some Depth series.
Here we are in the season's final month. You might already be out of contention in your league, but there are still plenty of depth chart situations to monitor. These situations should continue to change in the coming days/weeks as the trickle of roster additions accelerates with even more players receiving a cup of coffee.
Without any further ado...
It looked as though Martin Prado's playing time would decline when he moved from Arizona to New York, but he has become the Yankees' starting second baseman in recent weeks. He had only played four games at the keystone for the Diamondbacks, but he has already played 12 there in his month in the Bronx. It is evident that manager Joe Girardi and the team's front office prefer to deploy Prado than Stephen Drew. Drew has 14 starts at second since joining the Yankees at the trade deadline, but only three of those have come since August 16. Of course, Prado has also been employed at various other parts of the field, as someone with his glove skills is apt to do, but he might be most valuable at second since Drew has struggled to hit the ball this season. Robert Refsnyder has an OBP near .400 over the past month, and his batting line has not taken a hit since he was promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder has not been mentioned as a September call-up (yet), but he could be in the 2015 picture.
Omar Infante has played at about replacement level all season, but his adequate glove at second makes up for his 79 OPS+. He has been especially abysmal in the second half, with a .241 wOBA in his 37 games since the All-Star break. The Royals have overtaken the Tigers in spite of Infante's non-presence, but it would not be a surprise to see him serve as a healthy scratch occasionally in September. The freshly-added Jayson Nix could steal a start or two, as could Christian Colon and/or Johnny Giavotella if they join the team after the end of the minor league season.
I have not counted, but I am fairly confident that the Rangers' first base spot has been one of the most-covered positions of 2014 (thanks a lot Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland). The depth chart received another wrinkle this past week when Ryan Rua joined the squad. Rua had all of three updates by RotoWire writers before his promotion last week, but all three of those updates pertained to his predisposition to hit home runs. He hit a home run once every 21 plate appearances over the past two seasons, and he struck out far less frequently than your typical minor league slugger. You might expect a man of his age to excel in the Texas (Double-A) and Pacific Coast (Triple-A) Leagues, but the Rangers have nothing to lose by starting him over the likes of J.P. Arencibia, Mike Carp, and Adam Rosales for the season's final few weeks. Those three are all known commodities and more likely than not will not be part of the 2015 equation.
Sponsored Note – $200 BONUS FOR ROTOWIRE READERS - MLB is back at FanDuel and RotoWire readers can receive a HUGE 100% deposit bonus up to $200. CLICK HERE
Gordon Beckham was the White Sox's starting third baseman in his rookie season of 2009, but he had not played an inning at the position until he joined the Angels in late August. Howie Kendrick has second base secured, but David Freese has not been a sure thing at third. He has suffered through multitude of minor injuries (knee, quadriceps, shin, elbow, finger), and he is in the midst of the worst offensive season of his career (91 OPS+). As such, there is an opening for Beckham to play a bit, especially against left-handed starters. Three of Beckham's four starts have come against left-handed starting pitchers, and one would expect that to continue with Freese hitting .219 against starters of that handedness this season.
Cory Spangenberg is one of the more renowned prospects among the first wave of September recalls. The Padres brought him up from Double-A San Antonio prior to Monday's game, and he was already pencilled in as the club's starting third baseman in his first game in the big leagues. He can also play at second base and the outfield, and he will probably see infrequent time around the diamond during his month-long cup of coffee. Spangenberg has some wheels, but he had been caught on seven of his 23 stolen base attempts this season. Yangervis Solarte remains the starter at third base thanks to his .350+ OBP since coming to the Padres from the Yankees. Jedd Gyorko's batting average continues to hover around .200, but he has a slash line of .255/.311/.415 with four home runs since he returned from the DL in late July.
I previewed Maikel Franco's promotion a few weeks ago, and he's coming to the majors hot. Seven of his 16 home runs this season were hit in August, and he is slugging .564 over his last 119 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Cody Asche has a .305 OBP over the last month. I would assume Franco sees his fair share of playing time throughout September as the team judges his worthiness for 2015. He could very well be the starter on Opening Day, unless the Phillies decide to become economical and hold him back for a few months to delay the arbitration clock.
Oscar Taveras still on top in right field for the Cardinals despite a batting line that is not in line with his prospect status. He has hit only one home run in the 100 plate appearances since Allen Craig left for Boston, and he has a sub-.300 OBP over the last month. Randal Grichuk has seen more than a few starts over the past week, but Taveras' presence on the bench likely has more to do with the plethora of opposing left-handed starters than any inclination to sit him for an extended period of time. Taveras should stick in time, but his struggles are a reminder that playing baseball at the MLB level is hard, and even great pedigree prospects are wont to stumble against the world's best pitchers.