September Prospect Watch: AL Central

Welcome to September Prospect Watch, where we look at prospect types who could see big league playing time after rosters expand.

Cleveland Indians
RP Chen Lee

Lee isn’t a future closer for the Indians — that title goes to Cody Allen — but the right-hander has the ability to dominate same-handed batters with his deceptive delivery and sinker/slider combination. Lee should see action in September, and he should be able to rack up some Ks if used correctly.

Kansas City Royals
SP Danny Duffy and RP Maikel Cleto

Duffy was called up to the majors less than 72 hours ago, so I can say with 100% certainty that he’ll be up when rosters expand. Duffy has big time strikeout stuff, but it remains to be seen if he can harness it and keep runners off the basepaths. Post TJ surgery, Duffy’s velocity isn’t back to 2012 levels, but it is consistent with how the left-hander was pitching in 2011.

Cleto has tremendous velocity and a decent enough slider, but he has a very hard time commanding his stuff and has yet to show he can pitch in the bigs. Cleto may just be one of those Quad-A relievers with mouth watering potential, but he’s still just in his age-24 season.

Detroit Tigers
OF Nick Castellanos and RP Corey Knebel

Castellanos, the Tigers top prospect, struggled in Double-A last year, but Detroit opted to start him at AAA in 2013, anyway. Castellanos has responded with an excellent season, showing that he may be big league ready in only his age-21 campaign. With a lack of production from Andy Dirks and the suspension of Jhonny Peralta holding back the Tigers offense, Castellanos could step into the outfield and provide a potential boost for September and the playoffs.

Knebel is a big-time longshot to be called up, seeing as he’s yet to pitch above A-ball, but the 2013 sandwich pick has yet to be tested and could be an intriguing guy to watch. Knebel was a closer for the University of Texas earlier this year, and despite his lack of professional experience, he’s pretty much big league ready.

Minnesota Twins
1B/OF Chris Parmelee and RP Michael Tonkin

Parmelee has struggled in each of his last two attempts at the big league level, and now he’s even having trouble hitting in Triple-A. All of that said, Parmelee still has some potential with the bat, and the Twins have the ability to deal Justin Morneau after sliding the first baseman through waivers.

Tonkin made a couple of appearances for Minnesota earlier this month, but the massive right-hander should be back up when rosters expand. Tonkin throws in the mid-90s and relies heavily on his fastball, but that’s not such a bad thing when you’re 6’7”. Tonkin should be a solid reliever for the Twinkies over the next few years, but he won’t get a chance to close games until Glen Perkins is either gone or on the DL.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox’s horrific minor league system leaves the cupboards bare this September, but perhaps we see a start or two from right-hander Erik Johnson, who has an ERA below 2.00 in AAA.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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Knebel is going to the AFL. I doubt he’ll be called up. Pretty impressive for a low A ball player to even be going to Arizona, but the Tigers think Cory will move quickly.

Castellanos is 50/ 50 at this point.