For teams like the Royals which are long gone from the playoff races, heads habitually turn to the minor leagues this time of year to see which prospects are performing well enough to earn a late-season callup, when major league rosters expand to include the entire 40-man roster on Sept. 1.
Two candidates who may be pushing General Manager Dayton Moore's hand include third baseman Mike Moustakas and left-handed reliever Tim Collins, who was part of the trade that sent Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth to the Atlanta Braves.
Moustakas began the season at AA Northwest Arkansas, where he made a mockery of opposing pitching on his way to a .347 batting average with 21 home runs in just 66 games. Upon promotion to AAA Omaha, Moustakas struggled at first, but based on his .348 average in the month of August and a recent 12-game hitting streak, he figures to be a major part of the Royals' plans next season, so Dayton Moore may find it beneficial for Moustakas to spend the month in Kansas City getting acclimated with some of his future teammates and get a glimpse at life on the major league level, though Wilson Betemit is playing so well that playing time at the hot corner might be hard to come by. Still, if called up, Yost should be able to find a way to play Moustakas once a week or so and give him some pinch-hit opportunities on the side in blowout situations.
Collins has torched Pacific Coast League hitters since being acquired on July 30. He stands a diminutive 5-foot-7, but has compiled eye-popping strikeout totals (102 in 66 innings, including 15 in 15 innings while with Omaha). In addition to missing bats, he's also proven capable of keeping the ball in the park, having surrendered just five home runs this season and 11 in 217 career minor league innings. With the Royals, Collins could play a crucial role as a setup man to Joakim Soria. In his brief time with the Braves, Collins was viewed as a potential successor to Billy Wagner, who is in his final season.
In order for either Moustakas or Collins to be called up, the Royals would have to add them to the 40-man roster. and make a corresponding subtraction. In removing a player from the 40-man roster, that player must first be placed on waivers or designated for assignment (a process which also exposes the player to waivers), whereby any team can claim the player. With this in mind, the Royals will have to exercise caution in selecting a player that runs a low risk of being picked up by other teams.
Royals fans became frustrated last September when Kila Ka'aihue wasn't summoned to the major league level while the free-swinging Mike Jacobs stuck around despite the impression that Jacobs wouldn't play a role in the team's long-term plans.