Who should the Tampa Bay Rays call-up when rosters expand?
By Kasey Kuhrts
September call-ups aren’t what they used to be. Previously, teams could call up their entire 40-man roster, if they wanted. However, in 2021, only two extra players can be added to the club.
Now, if there is anything we know about the Tampa Bay Rays, more than two different players will be recalled from Durham during the month of September. However, the question remains, who will make the biggest impact?
Want your voice heard? Join the Rays Colored Glasses team!
Pitchers the Tampa Bay Rays should recall in September
Nick Anderson is nearing the end of his rehab assignment with the Bulls, so he is someone I would imagine will get the call on September 1st. However, two other guys that could make an impact immediately are David Robertson and Shane Baz.
If you didn’t know, David Robertson, yes that David Robertson, was signed by the Tampa Bay Rays after returning from the Olympics where he helped the USA win the Silver Medal. The former New York Yankee impressed the Rays during the Olympics and has been getting in game shape since August 18th.
In six games with Durham, Robertson is pitching to a 0.00 ERA, and a 0.83 WHIP with 12 strikeouts in six innings. Opponents are hitting just .200 off Robertson, breaking down to four hits allowed, one walk, and one hit batsman.
Robertson carries a career 2.90 ERA in over 600 games in the majors. Robertson has 137 career saves and was a lights-out member of the Yankees bullpen for many years.
Now, let’s talk Shane Baz.
Shane Baz is now the Tampa Bay Rays’ number one prospect, and the 20th overall prospect in all of Major League Baseball. In Durham this season, Baz is pitching to a 1.80 ERA with an 0.86 WHIP in eight starts.
Baz has K’d 47 hitters in only 35 innings this season, which is 26 more strikeouts than hits allowed.
Now, Baz looks to be ready, but will the Rays make the move? If they don’t want to use Baz as a starter, he could be a deadly reliever in the Rays’ already incredible bullpen.
Baz is not yet on the 40-man roster for the Tampa Bay Rays, but that can be a quick fix if need be. Although I have a feeling we won’t see Baz in 2021, I would love more than anything to be wrong.
Hitters the Tampa Bay Rays should recall in September
Mike Brosseau, Taylor Walls, and Vidal Brujan are all guys we have seen on the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021 so far. And with the Tampa Bay Rays only carrying four infielders at the moment, it’s a guarantee one of these guys will be heading to St. Pete on Wednesday.
However, outside of those three, who else could we see? Josh Lowe is obviously a major candidate to be recalled by the Tampa Bay Rays, as he is having a fantastic season in Durham this year.
However, I want to look at some lesser-known guys. So let’s start with René Pinto.
Although the catching tandem of Mike Zunino and Francisco Mejia has been incredible this season, so has Rene Pinto on his own. Pinto is hitting .262 with a .325 on-base percentage, and a .850 OPS.
Pinto has mashed 18 home runs, with 45 RBI’s, and even stolen four bases throughout his time with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham this season.
Behind the plate, Pinto carries a .986 fielding percentage this season and has thrown out 50% of attempted base stealers. Pinto appears to be ready for “The Show,” but who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would be backloaded at catcher.
Another guy who is worthy of a September callup is Nathan Lukes. Lukes is a 27-year-old outfielder, hitting .311 with Durham this season. Lukes also carries a .361 on-base percentage, .845 OPS, and 41 RBI’s.
Lukes isn’t a big power hitter, with only four on the season, but his ability to get hits, and get on base at a high clip could be valuable for the Tampa Bay Rays down the stretch.
Tampa Bay Rays September Callups Overview
At the end of the day, the Durham Bulls are 65-36, the best record of any team in Triple-A. So, they have a lot of guys having big years, and worth the call to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Naturally, not all of these players will get a chance to play with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021. However, the Bulls will spend this week just four hours away from Tropicana Field in Jacksonville to take on the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
Meaning, the shuttle could be busy during the first week of expanded rosters in September.