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Early Returns on Roster Expansion Madness

Last week, fellow RotoSynthesizer|STAR| Rob Leibowitz discussed September roster expansion and its implications for the fantasy player. I agree with Rob that it's an exciting time of year – especially for those of us in keeper leagues looking to get a sense of an organization's intentions for 2010.

|STAR|Is this the term?

Just a couple of days into the new month, RotoWire's Recent Debuts page is as active as it probably will be all season (with the exception of early April, maybe). Not every personnel decision has been made, but there are already enough to take a look at some early returns.

Here are three players of note as we head into the final month of regular season play.

Michael Brantley, CF, CLE
Brantley was the PTBNL from Milwaukee in the C.C. Sabathia deal last year. If you're the sort to agree with Rob's theory that contact hitters make more sense as late-season pick-ups than do power/strikeout guys, then Brantley will be your choice: in 2008, he finished second in the minors in plate appearances per strikeout (17.7), posting a ridiculous BB:K of 50:27 at Double-A Huntsville. He hasn't lived up to that lofty precedent this year, but he hasn't been bad, either, slashing a park- and luck-adjusted line of .319/.396/.425 at Columbus. Brantley seems to be getting stronger, as his extra-base hit totals have more or less increased each season in the minors. He should get playing time in left field this September. And with Grady Sizemore a likely candidate for season-ending surgery, Brantley could get a lot of playing time in center over the course of the month, giving him CF-eligibility for next season in most league/formats.

Oh, and did I mention he was 45-for-50 in stolen base attempts at Triple-A? Oh, and that he's only 22 years old?

Mike Carp, 1B, SEA
Carp is one of the seven players Seattle received in exchange for Sean Green, Jeremy Reed, and some guy named J.J. Putz. He got all of eight at-bats in an early-season call-up back in June, but has done some good things offensively at Triple-A Tacoma, slashing an adjusted line of .305/.401/.490. And with Branyan out with an injury, he could be in for a number of plate appearances while manning first base. Although to say he'd be "manning" anything might be stretching it: one knock against Carp is that he's a defensive liability, even at first. That means he'll have to really impress with the bat to establish on a major league roster. His 15 home runs in 490 Triple-A plate appearances this year suggests that the 23-year-old might not yet be enough of an offensive force to justify his place on the defensive spectrum.

Carlos Carrasco, SP, CLE
It's not my fault; Cleveland just keeps calling up interesting young players! Carrasco is part of the booty from the Cliff Lee deal. He made his major league debut Tuesday night, and even though it wasn't pretty (3 IP, 3 K, 3 BB, 3 HR, 9 H), there's reason to put some faith in the 22-year-old. Through 157 Triple-A innings this year, Carrasco posted an adjusted line of 9.00 K/9 and 2.74 BB/9 with a 40.6|PERCENT| GB|PERCENT|. If he maintains that sort of performance, he could be at least a 7.00 K/9  major league pitcher, pitching in a park that is unkind to flyball hitters. He's basically guaranteed a starting slot until the end of the season. It'll be interesting to see what he produces in his four or five starts and how it portends for his future with Cleveland.

Thanks to Minor League Splits for adjusted stats.