The promotion of several Nationals' top prospects came early this season due to injuries, as both Michael Taylor and Steven Souza were each brought up this month. Both were in line for September call-ups before arriving in D.C., but circumstances at the major league level accelerated the Nationals' plans.
Taylor and Souza are just the beginning of what should be an infusion of minor league talent in September. On Sept. 1 teams are allowed to expand their rosters and the Nationals will likely bring up around six to eight players, based on recent history.
Here is a look at their September call-ups in each of the last three seasons:
2013 - RHP Erik Davis, C Sandy Leon, LHP Ian Krol, OF Corey Brown, 2B Jeff Kobernus, LHP Xavier Cedeno, OF Eury Perez, IF Zach Walters (8 total players)
2012 - LHP John Lannan, OF Eury Perez, C Sandy Leon, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Christian Garcia, OF Corey Brown (6 total)
2011 - OF Roger Bernadina, LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Craig Stammen, LHP Athualpa Severino, OF Corey Brown, RHP Brad Peacock, IF Steve Lombardozzi, RHP Yunesky Maya (8 total)
That's a good list of players that were brought up to serve very different roles. Peacock and Milone, for instance, were showcased in 2011 and later that offseason were sent to Oakland as part of a package for Gio Gonzalez. Garcia in 2012 came up to make 13 appearances in September before making the playoff roster and appearing in the NLDS. Walters was promoted in 2013 simply as a reward for his breakout season in the minors.
It is unclear exactly who the Nationals will bring up this September, but as I have done each of the last three seasons, here are some predictions:
Tyler Moore, 1B/OF - Moore is off to a very poor start in August at Syracuse, but through June (.360 batting average) and July (.294 BA) he was excellent. He will almost certainly be brought up given his place on the 40-man roster and the fact he has helped the Nats in a pennant race before.
Jhonatan Solano, C - Every September it's a fairly safe bet that the Nationals - and most teams for that matter - will bring up a third catcher. Having that depth just makes it easier for a manager and allows for pinch-hitting situations involving reserve backstops like Jose Lobaton. Solano himself hasn't been great this season, but the Nats will know what they're getting if they call him up.
**The Nationals will likely also carry extra outfielders in September once Nate McLouth and Souza, Jr. return from the DL
Aaron Barrett, RHP - Barrett could very well come up sooner, as it's pretty clear we will see him again this season. The 26-year-old has already made 40 appearances for the Nationals and holds a 3.21 ERA. He was struggling in late July, so the Nats sent him to Syracuse. Since he has pitched three times for the Chiefs without allowing a baserunner.
Taylor Hill, RHP - We've also already seen Hill this year, as the right-hander made his MLB debut with the Nats in late June. Overall, he has pitched outstanding at Syracuse, going 10-5 with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.110 WHIP in 121 2/3 innings. Hill fits the profile of a future Nats trade piece: very good minor league numbers, but no clear future in Washington. Krol, Milone, Peacock and Nathan Karns would be the comparisons.
Xavier Cedeno, LHP - The Nats could use some bullpen depth, as any team can this time of year, and Cedeno is their most accomplished minor league lefty. The 27-year-old has been good all year in Triple-A, holding a 2.45 ERA through 29 appearances. His strikeouts per nine innings (12.5), strikeout to walk ratio (4.18) and WHIP (0.909) are all bests for Cedeno in his nine-year minor league career.
Matt Grace, LHP - Chalk this one up in the 'reward' category. Grace, 25, has emerged as one of the organization's best relief pitching prospects this season. In 41 games split between Harrisburg and Syracuse, Grace has held a 1.10 ERA this year. He walks way too many people, but it's hard to argue with those results. Plus, he's a lefty and that will absolutely help his cause.
Blake Treinen, RHP - Treinen was sent back down to Syracuse on Aug. 6 to make room for reliever Matt Thornton. The 26-year-old has already been up to pitch 11 games for the Nationals and fared well with a 2.35 ERA in 38 1/3 total innings. He has proven his worth so far in the majors and should make an impact in September.
[The original version of this story omitted Treinen in a copy and paste error. Thanks to @pmacewan for pointing it out!]