September Call-Ups

With all the drama of the series in Washington and the first game against Florida I had not had an opportunity to talk about the expanded roster. As September arrived, Major League Baseball rosters expanded from 25 to 40 allowing teams to bring up players who are on the 40-man roster. It’s always interesting to see how teams utilize this to their benefit. In previous years the Diamondbacks have been very conservative in bringing up rookies to fill roster spots. While Buck Showalter was managing the team you could probably count on one hand the number of players from Tucson to make the trip to Phoenix. This year though there is a flurry of activity and names being bantered around who might be called up.

Arizona has a bit of a dilemma with calling players up. For the first time in nine years the Tucson Sidewinders have clinched a play-off birth The Diamondbacks cannot take too many players or it may jeopardize the Sidewinders post season chances. For that reason we will probably see waves of call ups if they occur. The first wave will be to fill immediate needs on the parent club while the second wave will be after Tucson has completed their play-off games and will include players who have earned consideration due to their 2006 performance. Another problem with expanded rosters is the logistics of now having 40 bodies occupying clubhouse space. The space in Chase Field is somewhat palatial compared to some of the ballparks and so having extra bodies for the sake of having extra puts a strain on the players and the traveling party.

The first players to be called up were catcher Miguel Montero and left-handed pitchers Randy Choate and Doug Slaten. Right-handed pitcher Greg Aquino and infielder Andy Green were activated from the disabled list making the total of 5 new players added.

Choate, Aquino, and Green have all been with the team earlier this season. Aquino and Choate have both had rough outings at times but should provide some needed depth for the bullpen which has struggled as of late. Choate is hoping to have more success against left-handers down the stretch run than he had earlier in the year. For the two new players, Slaten and Montero, this is their first taste of the major leagues this season. Doug Slaten has had a very good year. He began the season in AA Tennessee where he appeared in 40 games and established a career low of 1.88. He was promoted to AAA Tucson where he appeared in 11 games and amassed an ERA of 0.75. He has good control and should provide some much needed left hand pitching. This is Doug’s second visit to the major leagues. He made a brief appearance in 2000 for Arizona at the age of 20. He appeared in 9 games four of those as a starter and pitched a total of 9.1 innings. Slaten has always had talent but injuries have slowed his progress. In 2001 he continued to be a starter but knee and shoulder problems caused him to lose time. After that season Doug and the organization determined he may be better suited to be a reliever and Slaten revamped his pitching style to throw shorter sessions more often. This has paid off for him in 2006 and gives the Diamondbacks a left-handed bulldog style of pitcher, something they have not had for some time.

Miguel Montero his way to the major league level just 5 years after being signed as an undrafted free-agent. Montero began his minor league career in Missoula Montana playing for the Osprey in short season A. He generated a lot of excitement in how he managed the game and for his offensive prowess behind the plate. He has steadily progressed through the Diamondbacks minor league system and at each level has made believers out of his coaches. Miguel has been touted as the Diamondbacks catcher of the future and through his numbers it is hard to argue that fact. But the Diamondbacks are currently getting great efforts from both Johnny Estrada and Chris Snyder which makes for a crowded situation behind the plate. Montero’s appearance should make for interesting conversations by both the fans and baseball personnel. This off-season something will need to happen to allow all 3 players an opportunity to play. It becomes a numbers game to try and decide which catcher will not be with the team for 2007.

One final player not yet called up but his arrival is eminent will be Edgar Gonzalez. With the Diamondbacks having few days off they will need another starter for the Florida series and since Gonzalez has had experience he is likely to get the call. Edgar has pitched well at times but for whatever reason he gets very limited run support. Maybe this trip will be different but based on the last 6 games where the Diamondbacks have yet to win I am not holding out much hope for Edgar to be successful.

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