Roster expansion on September 1 stands as one of the most unique events in all of sports. MLB allows teams to stretch their September rosters from 25 to 40 men, remaining the only major sports league to adjust the roster size in-season. These September call-ups figure to play a very different role for the Brewers than they did last year. 2013’s call-ups could gain experience while playing low-pressure games for a sub-par club. This year, however, new additions need to mesh into the fabric of a talented team in the midst of a pennant race. While the task seems difficult, the Brewers do have a few players in their system who can help them this September. Milwaukee would benefit from calling up Kentrail Davis, Hunter Morris, and Alfredo Figaro.
Kentrail Davis could serve the Brewers as a solid pinch-runner down the stretch. While seemingly a superfluous position, speedsters become especially important in the late innings of pennant-race games. Davis, a 26-year-old outfielder for AA Huntsville, has stolen 13 bases in 20 attempts (65.0%) this season. While this number appears relatively low for a designated-runner type player, he has made fewer attempts this year. Last season, Davis managed to snag 26 bases in 37 attempts (70.3%). If the Brewers decide to call up a fleet base stealer, Davis would seem like their best bet. The only other real option, AAA Nashville’s Eugenio Velez, is 30 years old and has a lower steal percentage (25 of 40, 62.5%) than Davis. In all fairness, Davis’ absence from the 40-man roster renders the possibility of a call-up quite remote. Still, Davis appears capable of filling a crucial niche for Milwaukee.
Calling up Hunter Morris would give the Brewers another power bat and first-base option. Morris, recently ranked by MLB.com as the club’s 19th-best prospect, leads the Nashville Sounds with a .457 slugging percentage in 2014. His .172 ISO stands at a decent 27th in the Pacific Coast League. While the 25-year-old has battled injuries this season, he hit 24 homers last year and 28 the year before. Importantly, his strikeout rate has dipped from 22.3% last year down to 19.8% in 2014, indicating that Morris has matured as a better-rounded hitter. If called up, the former Auburn Tiger could provide home run capability off the bench. Additionally, Morris could spell Lyle Overbay or Mark Reynolds at first base, giving those veterans crucial days off.
Alfredo Figaro could give Milwaukee some needed bullpen depth. Figaro has made two big-league appearances this season, but has spent most of 2014 compiling a 3.57 ERA and 4.01 FIP in AAA. Figaro deserves a call-up due to his durability. At this point in the year, all players – particularly the pitchers – need all the rest they can get. Figaro has pitched 59 innings in 39 relief appearances for the Sounds. This rate of 1.51 innings per appearance would offer Ron Roenicke plenty of flexibility and allow the other relievers some time off. Figaro’s ability to pitch for relatively long stretches would improve the effectiveness of the entire bullpen.
Of course, none of Davis, Morris, or Figaro would make the postseason roster if Milwaukee qualifies. The inexperience of all three players – only Figaro has ever played in the majors – make trusting them even in the regular season a dicey proposition. Still, all three of these players have a specific role they can fill Milwaukee. With the division title at stake, the Brewers will need contributions from their entire organization, not just the current active roster. Each of these potential call-ups could help the Brewers keep afloat as October looms ever closer.