You didn't think the call-ups ended on Sept. 1, did you?
That's an outdated way of looking at things. It's true we saw hotly anticipated prospects like Jasson Dominguez and Ronny Mauricio get the call then, so it can happen. But rosters only expanded by two players on that day and not 15 like they used to. Sometimes it can take a little longer than Sept. 1 to free up the necessary space.
Hence the reports of Jordan Lawlar joining up with the Diamondbacks on Thursday. The sixth overall pick in the 2021 draft, who by most accounts is a top 10 overall prospect, is expected to split his time between shortstop and third base down the stretch.
I'll have more to say about him below, but I want to take this moment to stress that while he may be the next big-name prospect to get the call, he probably won't be the last.that the new CBA, which took effect last year, offers draft pick incentives for having a top prospect spend his entire rookie season in the majors. Getting his feet wet the year before can make that transition a little easier, but it has to be late enough so as not to use up his rookie eligibility. September is more or less perfect.
So sure, pick up Lawlar, but don't lose sight of, say, Jackson Holliday.
ARI Arizona • #10 • Age: 21
The full-season line for Lawlar -- a .278 batting average, 20 homers, 36 steals and .874 OPS -- is solid enough, but that's after a dreadful start in which he batted .199 for two months. Suffice it to say he was a hit machine thereafter, and in 16 games after moving up to Triple-A Reno, he batted .358 (24 for 67) with five homers and a 1.049 OPS. The trajectory is reminiscent of Anthony Volpe during his final minor-league season, which is fitting since Lawlar profiles similarly as a hitter. He's able to maximize his modest raw power by elevating the ball to his pull side, and even if his home run tally falls a little short, his on-base skills and base-stealing prowess make for a nice floor. He's expected to split time between shortstop and third base for the Diamondbacks, presumably playing every day as they fight for a playoff spot, and while he's no certainty to thrive as a 21-year-old, the upside makes him worth adding anywhere you need infield or stolen base help.
BAL Baltimore • #87 • Age: 20
The Diamondbacks gave Jordan Lawlar 16 games at Triple-A Reno before bringing him up to the big leagues, presumably just to make sure he didn't hit a brick wall at that last stop. Will Triple-A Norfolk likewise be just a layover for Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 pick in the draft last year and consensus No. 1 overall prospect now? Promoting him would be an aggressive move, but Holliday isn't a typical 19-year-old, being the son of seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday, and has experienced no letup in production at any of his previous three stops this year. Gunnar Henderson, who the Orioles aggressively promoted as a 21-year-old last September, is their only quality hitter on the left side of the infield. Filling that hole with Holliday as the team closes in on its first division title in a decade makes some sense. So does stashing him ahead of time if you can spare the roster spot.
Seiya Suzuki RF
CHC Chi. Cubs • #27 • Age: 29
For the better part of two seasons now, we've been waiting for Suzuki to deliver numbers befitting his Statcast readings, namely the 80th percentile average exit velocity and 94th percentile max exit velocity. Well, it may finally be happening. After another 2-for-4 performance Wednesday, which included a double and three RBI, he's batting .355 (38 for 107) with eight home runs, two triples and 11 doubles since Aug. 1. Part of what made his underachievement so frustrating is that the strikeout rate was well under control, but even that's improved with him striking out just 16.4 percent of the time during this stretch. It doesn't mean he'll remain this hot to close out the season, but it does hopefully mean he's achieved a level of comfort in this league that will allow his skills to shine through. Even just as a hot-hand play, he needs to be rostered everywhere.
Luis Rengifo 2B
LAA L.A. Angels • #2 • Age: 26
Versatility alone doesn't make for a quality Fantasy asset, but versatility combined with even the faintest glimmer of offensive competence can go a long way in Rotisserie leagues especially. Rengifo has been showing that and then some, winning AL Player of the Week honors last week and doing his best to repeat this week, his latest submission being a 2-for-3 performance with a home run Wednesday. In all, the 26-year-old is batting .455 (25 for 55) with five home runs during a 14-game hitting streak. The Angels haven't always had a spot for him in their lineup, but it doesn't sound like he's going anywhere now. "I know he played well late last season, but this is a different Luis we're seeing," manager Phil Nevin said. "There's more power, there's more walks, less chase and swinging at the right pitches." Rengifo is startable at second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #62 • Age: 34
In a season defined by inconsistent pitching performances up and down the rankings, you'd think Quintana would have more admirers. Only one of his nine starts since returning from a rib injury has been anything in the vicinity of bad, and seven of his past eight have been the textbook definition of quality. And this is coming from a guy who had a 2.93 ERA last year. It's true he went squishy for several years before then, but he was basically must-start during his first five seasons with the White Sox. And a closer look reveals that the bad years coincided with the juiced ball era, during which he averaged 1.2 HR/9. In the five years before then, he averaged 0.8 HR/9. In the two years since, he's averaged 0.4 HR/9. Doesn't seem like a coincidence, does it? With him lined up for two starts next week, it's time to put that theory to the test.
MIA Miami • #27 • Age: 25
Cabrera's return to the Marlins was on the verge of unraveling when he walked two of the first three hitters Wednesday against the Dodgers, but he buckled down thereafter, striking out eight over four one-hit innings. His already impressive velocity was up 1-2 mph across the board, and that combined with ridiculous movement left even Freddie Freeman shaking his head. Though he got the bulk of the work, he was actually the fourth pitcher used in this game, so questions remain about his role. And though he threw 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, it wouldn't be the first time he faked us out with improved control. Still, if you're looking for pitching upside, Cabrera's was on full display in this one.
Ryan Pepiot RP
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #47 • Age: 26
It's not the way anyone wanted it to happen, but Julio Urias' legal and personal troubles may have finally cleared a spot for Pepiot. We can hope, anyway. The 26-year-old is back for another turn Thursday, and if it goes much like his previous three, in which he allowed two earned runs in 14 innings, he may well stick around this time. What stands out most in those three appearances is that he walked just two and threw 67 percent of his pitches for strikes. In fact, between the majors and minors this year, he has issued just 1.7 BB/9, throwing 65 percent of his pitches for strikes. That's compared to 4.4 and 63 percent last year. If he's solved his control woes without sacrificing the strikeout potential he's demonstrated in the past, then he's poised to be a big winner for the Dodgers.
KC Kansas City • #17 • Age: 24
Velazquez showed plenty of power over the course of his minor-league career, but he never got much of an opportunity in a Cubs organization that clearly just saw him as a spare part. The Royals have made him a fixture in their lineup, though, and he's responded with nine home runs in 23 games, including four in six already this month. The exit velocities, whether the 91.3 mph average or the 111.4 max, certainly back up the production, and the 25.9 percent strikeout rate has been a pleasant surprise for a guy who struck out more than 30 percent of the time over his minor-league career. Maybe that's smoke and mirrors and major-league pitchers ultimately do get the better of him, but if you're looking to make up ground in home runs in a five-outfielder Rotisserie league, it's time to take notice of Velazquez.