Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Like most sports, baseball evolves. Some may say for the better, others, for the worse. Over the years countless changes have taken place. There are, believe it or not, a few players left who don’t wear batting gloves. (To say nothing of retightening them, even when one takes a pitch). Most wear elbow guards as well as shin and ankle guards now. I recently attended a South Bend Cubs game where ball four escaped the catcher, and the prospect may have made second but he was taking the protective gear off.

One such change? Instead of carrying up to 40 players at the big league level over the season’s final month, teams can now have just 28 – meaning an additional two bodies come September.

Like I said, for decades, teams could have as many as 40 players in the dugout for the last month of the season. Chicago Cubs stars like Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg (Phillies), Rick Sutcliffe (Dodgers), Andre Dawson (Expos), Greg Maddux and Aramis Ramirez (Pirates), and I’m sure I missed some – all came up to close the year with the big club. Ernie Banks was signed in September of 1953, but we wasn’t a prospect rising through the minor leagues like the others.

Through 2019 the practice continued, but the league and MLBPA agreed to reduce this before COVID came along. Teams out of contention could reward their best minor leaguers with a look, and contenders could rest a few players for October with a few kids.

Our Cubs have certainly been looking toward 2023 for some time. Injuries have slowed the progress of several top prospects as well as big leaguers we expected to make their mark this year. There are several players who must be under consideration, and a former Cubs manager said it best, when noting, “I don’t think two is enough, and I think 15 is too much.”

Who will the Cubs add to the big league roster come September?

Which begs the question: who may these two be?

The Cubs have several pitchers who may want to toe the rubber a few more times before the offseason. Keegan Thompson and Kyle Hendricks are both injured, with the latter already turning the page to next year. Will we see Thompson return this year? What about Wade Miley?

David Bote, Alfonso Rivas and Frank Schwindel would obviously love a chance to redeem themselves before the leaves turn. All have been in Iowa for various reasons. Darius Hill is hitting over .330 there, and, in the past, would certainly get a fair look. Matt Mervis made the jump from South Bend to Des Moines and has been on many people’s radar – but Chicago likely won’t start his clock until 2023.

Christopher Morel played 10 games at Iowa last year, but this year made the jump to the majors from Tennessee and is playing like he doesn’t like riding buses anymore. Jake Slaughter is having a strong season with the Smokies, as is the recently-promoted Alexander Canario (great power, lower average).

dark. Next. Adrian Sampson has been a godsend for the rotation

After last year’s lockout, this may be an area where the two sides may want to reconsider the overreach from 40 to 28, and maybe sign a letter of agreement to adjust it to 30 to 32. It seemed to work for decades before, with several Hall of Famers success stories from this system – and adding just two guys down the stretch doesn’t add much – either in helping teams compete or evaluating what they have for the future.