There are three main types of players that we usually see added to the roster during September: players already on the 40-man roster that have been playing in the minors, players not yet on the 40-man roster that will likely be added during November's reserves deadline anyway, and players not yet on the 40-man roster that the organization feels has earned a chance to play at the majors at the end of the season, even if those players aren't part of the team's plans going forward. There is always the possibility of a few wild card callups too. I will be discussing candidates that fit each of these profiles throughout the article.
Teams very rarely fill all 40 spots on their roster, as it is fairly common for team rosters to contain a measure of injured players and/or younger prospects that are still a year or two away from being considered for MLB action. Upper level minor league playoffs may also be a factor, and could delay or eliminate the need for certain players to see action at the MLB level. This year, as noted by Charlie Drysdale last week, the Tulsa Drillers have already made the playoffs, which means the chances of players like Kyle Parker seeing a callup could be affected.
40-Man Roster Depth
Likely candidates to be recalled: Mitchell Boggs, Manny Corpas, Collin McHugh, Josh Rutledge
Boggs, Corpas and McHugh represent the team's most likely September inning-eater crew. The Rockies have already given Rob Scahill an early callup, filling the bullpen spot for Rafael Betancourt, who seems likely to be done for the year. The presence of these pitchers should ease the work load on players like Matt Belisle, Wilton Lopez and Adam Ottavino in the final weeks of the season.
On the other side of the coin, the Rockies already have most of their position player depth up with the team, in part due to injuries to Carlos Gonzalez and Yorvit Torrealba. Josh Rutledge represents the only position player currently on the 40-man roster that is likely to see action with the Rockies in September. Rutledge will be headed into Spring Training 2014 likely a step behind DJ LeMahieu for the second base job, leaving him among the players in most need to take advantage of September playing time to win back favor after struggling with the Rockies this year.
Possible recall candidates: Tyler Colvin, Tim Wheeler
Colvin is currently on the Sky Sox disabled list with an unknown injury. Were he to be healthy enough to play come September, a recall is not out of the question, though the fact that the team is currently stacked with several left handed outfielders would likely work against his potential playing time. Nobody on the roster is in more need of redemption than Colvin, who saw all of the favor he build up in a solid 2012 season crumble.
If Colvin is unavailable and the Rockies are still okay with adding extra left handed outfielders, Wheeler could get the chance at his major league debut. Wheeler has improved in the second half of the season, but has still seen his prospect stock fall into a bottomless pit after his supreme 2011 season. Neither of these players has necessarily earned a September look this year, and with the depth ahead of them already flourishing to varying degrees, it seems unlikely but not impossible that we see either player.
Unlikely recall candidates: Cristhian Adames, Rafael Ortega
Both Ortega and Adames are currently on the minor league disabled list. The chances of an Ortega return this year seem slim he has dealt with injury for the majority of 2013 and is currently dealing with a fractured shin. Adames, on the other hand, seems to imply that he may be returning to the Drillers sooner rather than later on Twitter. Regardless, Adames' youth and fairly average season seem unlikely to propel the likely future utility infielder to the majors. He is much better served participating in the Drillers playoffs.
Likely candidates: Kyle Parker
The Rockies have already dealt with some of the more significant players that were going to be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson and Chad Bettis have already found comfortable homes on the major league roster this year. In a large field of candidates that includes mostly pitchers not ready for the majors, Parker stands alone as the player likely to see his name on the 40-man roster before the year is done.
Parker fits the bill as an outfielder that isn't left handed. The Rockies are short on right handed power to begin with, adding further incentive to take a look at Parker. Further, if the Rockies are unable to secure a top-tier 1B/RF replacement this offseason, Parker is going to be the team's best bet for adding a right handed power bat to the lineup from inside. Parker's minor league career hasn't exactly been indicative of a future superstar, but he could provide value in the near future if other resources aren't available.
With Edgmer Escalona having been designated for assignment last week, the Rockies have room to add at least one non-roster player for sure, and I think Parker is first in line. It may not come immediately, depending on how the Drillers fare in the postseason, but I think we see Parker up here by the middle of the month at the latest, hopefully getting a few scattered starts in right and at first.
Unlikely Candidates: Tyler Matzek, Rosell Herrera, Jayson Aquino, Christian Bergman
I believe that Matzek, Herrera and Aquino are all essentially guarantees to be added to the roster at the reserves deadline this November, while Bergman is #1 in line if there's enough room on the 40-man. However, none of these players make sense as an addition to a major league team right now.
Matzek, while having made progress into resembling something similar to a normal pitcher, is still in the midst of finding himself as a professional ballplayer. Herrera and Aquino are too far away from being MLB contributors, and would likely only see time in a situation similar to that which saw Rafael Ortega promoted at the very end of last year. Bergman is the most likely to be ready to contribute at the MLB level, but I think prematurely promoting him to the roster for likely little but a couple innings of time on the mound would be a waste. Better to hold back and figure out what to do with him when more chips have fallen.
Potential "Earned" Callups
Former 40-Man Players: Reid Brignac, Logan Kensing, Chris Volstad
These three players all spent time on the Rockies this year, but were cut from the club midseason. Kensing has had an excellent season as the Sky Sox closer, while Brignac and Volstad have been varying degrees of average with our AAA team. The team is probably unlikely to make room especially for one of these players, but if the team decides to move on from guys like Jeff Manship before September or players like Rafael Betancourt need to be placed on the 60-day DL to open more temporary roster spots, guys like this will be at the top of the list for promotions.
Notable Former MLB Talent: Armando Galarraga, Sean Gallagher, Xavier Nady, Hisanori Takahashi
Nady fits the bill for a right handed outfielder, particularly in lieu of Kyle Parker if he's going to stay down with Tulsa. Gallagher has had a fairly decent season split between Tulsa and Colorado Springs, and will likely be considered for an innings eater spot if there's room. Galarraga seems less likely than the others, but with the team being interested enough in him to trade for him a month ago, they may intend to get some use out of him. Takahashi, also a late season acquisition from the Rockies, has not pitched well for the Sky Sox, but is the most likely promotion candidate should the Rockies like to add another lefty to the bullpen.
Other players that could belong on this list are Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, but both are expected to be out for the rest of the year with injury.
Fringe Prospects: Lars Davis, Kent Matthes, Angelys Nina, Ben Paulsen, Cory Riordan, Nick Schmidt
This tier represents the very bottom of players that have any glimmer of a chance of seeing MLB action. None of these players would be expected to make the cut below everyone else, but a series of proper circumstances could lead to a look, at least within the realm of possibility.
The Rockies don't have any upper tier catching depth at the moment (see the Wild Card section below for my notes on Tom Murphy), but with Jordan Pacheco on the roster, the Rockies won't feel obligated to call up another catcher. That said, if Pacheco is needed elsewhere or perhaps if Yorvit Torrealba's injury is more serious than we know, Davis could see a sort of "thank you for your service" callup that we occasionally see. Davis joins Angelys Nina and Cory Riordan as fringe-prospects that have spent seven years with the Rockies and will be on their way to find new jobs after this season. Also in that boat is Nick Schmidt, though he spent most of his pro career with San Diego.
Kent Matthes and Ben Paulsen fit the bill as fringe 40-man roster protectees last year. Both players still have multiple years left before leaving as free agents, and could see a time come where their names are on the 40-man for depth purposes. With a Rule 5 protection year significantly more competitive than last year, it is highly unlikely either players is protected this year if they didn't make last year's cut, but their names will be on the periphery here at the very least. Coty Woods, last year's Texas Rule 5 selection, would also be here if he weren't injured at this time.
Injured Players: Rafael Betancourt, Tyler Chatwood, Carlos Gonzalez, Roy Oswalt, Drew Pomeranz, Yorvit Torrealba
The six players all sit on the 15-day DL (7 for Torrealba), meaning that any that are unable to come back this month are likely to be thrown onto the 60-day DL to make room for other players. Chatwood, Gonzalez and Torrealba are all expected to be healthy enough to play in time for season's end, while the team hasn't ruled out a return for Oswalt. Betancourt's circumstances are unknown at this point, as we await an MRI scan on Monday. I haven't heard many updates on where Drew Pomeranz is with recovery, but that's rarely good news.
Edwar Cabrera and Christian Friedrich, who already occupy 60-day DL slots, will not be healthy in time for consideration.
Top Prospects: Eddie Butler, Jonathan Gray, Tom Murphy
People have been clamoring for these players to get a look this September, and I'm here to tell you that not only do I think it's highly unlikely any of these players get a look, I think it's a bad idea to do so, particularly with the two pitchers. None of these three players need to be added to the roster right now, and all will also benefit more from rest and more minors play than a rush to the majors. While I think all of these guys might be in like to play for the Rockies sometime in 2014, there's no advantage to getting them here right now beyond the whims of the fans, desperate to see the awesome future in the form of instant gratification.