When the calendar flips to September in a couple of days, MLB rosters will expand from the typical 25 active payers to allow up to the full 40-man roster. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that any team will call up 15 new prospects right away just because they can, but we can expect for the Boston Red Sox clubhouse to get a little more crowded next week.
Since Boston's playoff hopes have long since evaporated, they are more likely to rely on young players than contending teams would. Here are several options from the Red Sox farm system that can make a case for getting a taste of big league action in the final month of the season.
Keep in mind that a few of these options aren't currently on the team's 40-man roster, which would take some additional maneuvering to allow them to get called up. That may make it less likely for those players to make an appearance in September, since adding them would require removing a player from the 40-man roster and leaving them vulnerable to be taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Rusney Castillo, OF: The Cuban import has yet to play a game at any level of the minor league system yet, but his 7-year, $72.5 million contract starts this season (at a prorated amount for 2014). Now that he has been granted a work visa to be eligible to play in the U.S., we should expect him to arrive in Boston sometime next month.
Blake Swihart, C: Teams don't normally carry 3 catchers for most of the year, but expanded rosters allow the luxury to add another to the mix. Swihart is hitting only .241/.267/.362 in 15 games with Pawtucket, but was hitting .300 with modest power in Double-A Portland before that and projects to be a very good hitter for his position, while quickly improving behind the plate.
Garin Cecchini, 3B: He had a cup of coffee in Boston earlier this season and could challenge Will Middlebrooks for playing time heading into next season. He's hitting .262/.340/.374 in Pawtucket this season, but has come on strong lately, hitting .394 over his last 10 games.
Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF: His starting center field spot has already been stolen away by Mookie Betts, but Jackie Bradley could still find his way back to the roster next month. He's hitting only .204 since his demotion to Pawtucket, which doesn't inspire much confidence, but he could still provide some value as a defensive replacement.
Other potential call-ups: Alex Hassan, Dan Butler, Ryan Lavarnway
Henry Owens, SP: The top pitching prospect in Boston's system has only thrown 32 innings at the Triple-A level, but he's handled the jump successfully with a 3.66 ERA and 35 strikeouts. The Red Sox have plenty of more experienced options to fill out the rotation the rest of the way, but they could get his feet wet by plugging him into the bullpen.
Brandon Workman, SP: He's already made 12 starts for Boston this season, but was recently demoted after losing his 7th straight decision. He could be the first option the Red Sox call on if anyone from their rotation were to miss a start, but given the team's depth of young players, his future may be better suited for the bullpen, which is where he's likely to end up to start September.
Heath Hembree, RP: Acquired from the San Francisco Giants as part of the Jake Peavey deal, Hembree was impressive in his first couple of appearances in Boston. Then he got roughed up for 3 runs in his last inning of work and was bounced back down to Pawtucket. He has an impressive 10.8 K/9 in the minors this season and should be a big part of the bullpen in 2015.
Other potential call-ups: Matt Barnes, Steven Wright, Drake Britton
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