Just like Earth Wind and Fire reminisce about a love found in September it's always a good idea to look back to the fall before and see if you can dig up that hidden gem that takes you to fantasy supremacy and all the glory, cash and Vegas showgirls that comes with it. (I'm still holding out belief that such a league with these winnings exists.) Late season call-ups who experience immediate success can be a tricky lot to forecast. Carlos Gonzalez, Dan Hudson, Wade Davis, and Julio Borbon, among others had strong late season debuts in 2009 with differing degrees of success in 2010. The past season brought a new crop of call-ups and we saw the likes of Jeremy Hellickson, Craig Kimbrel, Logan Morrison and Lorenzo Cain emerge as small sample success stories. What can we learn from 2009's men of September and is there another Car-Go waiting to explode?
more after the jump...
First let's start by taking a look at how some of the 2009 group fared.
Wade Davis - Davis shined in his 2009 debut and followed up with a strong start to 2010 until a disastrous start in Texas put a dent in his ERA that took him all season to climb out of. If he shows the ability to go deeper into games he could be a good candidate for improvement in 2011. He has strikeout upside and a strong enough team to provide him wins in a tough division. He should do a nice job filling the shoes left by Matt Garza and won't be sought after til much later in the draft than Garza.
Julio Borbon - Playing time could be an issue for Borbon but the young speedster could put up some nice statistics if given a chance to play. The former first round pick has hit above .300 every season up until last year when he posted .276. He got off to a horrendous start but after April he hit .292. Watch to see if Ron Washington gives him playing time and a green light. If he gets both he could turn into a very nice waiver pick-up providing a decent batting average, SB and R if he's hitting lead-off in place of Andrus.
Drew Stubbs - In 2009 stubbs got a 42 game look so he's not quite a september call-up but he could be the game's next break-out star. Never much of a slugger in the minors Stubbs hit 8 in his quarter season with the Reds in 2009 and cynics wrote it off as a fluke but he proved them wrong by following up with 22 in 2010. He struggles with contact and unless he gets that under control it could be his downfall. But you gotta love the power speed upside he brings and he has shown better contact skills in the past. not to mention improving as the season went on. In 2011 he will hit at the top of a potent Reds lineup that could also see strides made by Jay Bruce. Stubbs may not reach the coveted 30-30 plateau but he has a fair shot at 25-35. Just don't be shocked when there's an AVG in the .260s to go along with it. It's not quite Car-Go heights but he could be a nice find if he slips through the cracks a bit.
As for those who found success late in 2010 Jeremy Hellickson and Aroldis Chapman are at the forefront of people's minds, however, there are a few lesser known players who could live up to the promise shown at the end of the year and a few who could flame out
Lorenzo Cain - Julio Borbon's 2010 should act as warning for those looking to draft Cain in 2011. Cain shows better patience at the plate and similar speed but doesn't have the same consistency with batting average that Borbon does. The move to Kansas City likely helps his playing time situation along with a possible bump up the batting order. The Royals offense isn't going to turn him into a 100 R producer anytime soon so unless he's able to repeat that 2010 AVG he's unlikely to be a major factor next year. I'm still holding out hope for 2012 and beyond but 2011 should be very telling of what to expect for Cain.
James McDonald - McDonald is among 2010's crop of late season studs to emerge. He already had 69 innings mostly in relief heading into 2010 but it wasn't until a mid-season trade to the Pirates that he truly got to display his talents as a starter. He had 8.6 K/9 in 11 starts with the Pirates and is the closest thing the team has to an ace. McDonald struck out nearly 10 batters per game in the minors so there's reason to believe the K-rate above 8 is here to stay. Many will write him off in 2010 due to the weak Pirates lineup behind him but they could be better than you think. With Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen emerging the Bucs may not be as starved for runs as they once were and McDonald could have a win total in the teens. Let someone else take a chance on Brandon Webb or Chris Young when you most likely have McDonald still available.
Craig Kimbrel - There is technically a competition for the closers role in Atlanta but it is clearly Kibrel's to lose in Spring Training. Jonny Venters is Kimbrel's competition but the lefty will likely be kept out of the closer role so he can be used situationally. Kimbrel is a strikeout machine that likes walks as much as Grandma on a sunny summer day but Carlos Marmol showed last year that it's possible to be effective when wild if you don't give the hitters a chance to put the ball in play. Kimbrel could be a top 8 closer at the end of the year if he is able to keep those free passes from scoring. Chris Sale is another late season pitcher that could make an impact but the question surrounding him is whether he will end up in the rotation or bullpen. If given the closer role, Sale could be another solid find.
Logan Morrison - There are questions surrounding Morrison's power and whether or not it arrives will be the difference between a plus fantasy player or an on-base machine with little else to offer. He hit only 2 deep in the majors last year but drove the ball well with 20 doubles and showed a fantastic eye with 41 BB in only 244 AB. The Marlins youngster doesn't turn 24 until August so it's best to be patient with him. For the next couple years the HRs should inch up until he hits his physical peak when 30 HR could be in the realm of possibility. In 2011 it's best to expect moderate gain in most areas of his game.
Peter Bourjos - Bourjos has excellent speed and a bit of pop (6-12 HR) in his bat. He struggles to make contact so the batting average isn't likely to approach .300 yet and the lack of walks will keep his SB numbers lower than they could be. He should get playing time in Anaheim with their aging outfield but it may not be as often as someone like Cain in Kansas City who has little competition. Of the speedsters in this article Bourjos has the most upside due to the power potential and in a few years he could team with Mike Trout to make a fairly notable young outfield. He's a gamble heading into 2011 but not a terrible option in keeper leagues.