Mar 12, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns (51) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Who Will Be the Tampa Bay Rays' September Call-Ups?

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On September 1st, teams are free to recall players who are on their 40-man rosters, but not their 25-man rosters. They use this opportunity to promote players who can help them with the playoff drive or just to take a snapshot look at top prospects. In the past, the Tampa Bay Rays have used this to their advantage in the stretch drive with cameo appearances from players like David Price and Matt Moore. This year is a little different. Barring a miracle, the Rays won’t make the playoffs and the cameo appearances will be about who can help the team next year. Who will be the Rays’ September call-ups?

Affecting the timing of the call-ups will be the fact that the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls, have already clinched a berth in the Triple-A playoffs. Traditionally an International League powerhouse, they could go all the way to the Triple-A finals which takes place on September 16. Is it better for a prospect to be in the middle of some high-stakes playoff games or make an occasional appearance in the majors? My guess is the Rays will play it both ways and decide on a case-by-case basis. Let’s take a look at who is eligible to be promoted and when they might arrive.

Pitchers: RHP Nate Karns, RHP Alex Colome, LHP Enny Romero, LHP Mike Montgomery, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, RHP Cory Burns

Durham has a six deep rotation, so either Karns or Colome or both could get the call on September 1. They figure to be the sixth and seventh ranked starters going into 2015 (at least until Matt Moore comes back) and the Rays will want to see as much of them as they can. Montgomery could follow after Durham finishes its season. The Rays may use him as a relief pitcher in 2015 and this would be a nice audition. Romero and Riefenhauser have had control problems and have removed themselves from consideration as big league factors for now. They could get called up for confidence purposes, but not for anything more. Finally, Burns is a roster filler and won’t be called up.

Catchers: Ali Solis

Curt Casali will surely be called up (he’s at High-A Charlotte for the moment), but Solis is not a prospect. There is a higher chance that he gets designated for assignment to make room for somebody else (say Matt Andriese or Adam Liberatore) than gets called up himself.

Infielders: 1B Vince Belnome, 2B Tim Beckham, SS Hak-Ju Lee, 2B Nick Franklin, 2B Cole Figueroa

I think Franklin will get the call on September 1st. He didn’t do well in either of his major league stints with Seattle, and the Rays will want to see if his offensive game has improved. Beckham will stay at Durham so he can play every day and come up after Durham’s season ends. Belnome and Figueroa’s status depends on whether the Rays want to be nice to them and give them a couple of weeks of big league pay, although with everyone getting healthy on their roster, their playing time would be limited. Lee will be sent home to rest his leg and, hopefully, rebound in 2015.

Outfielders

Durham has no outfielders that are on the 40-man roster. However, the Rays could take a look at Mikie Mahtook because he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the season and they could easily make room for him by designating Solis for assignment.

In summation, this will be a pre-spring training tryout camp for players like Karns, Colome, Montgomery, Franklin, and Beckham. All have a decent chance to be with the big club sometime in 2015. Given the way the 2014 season has gone, the Rays will need all the help they can as they hope to turn around their fortunes next season.

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