September callups are a lot more interesting for Pirate fans than they used to be. Gone are the days when Lloyd McClendon didn't want those darned rookies on his ballclub because he was "trying to win (63) games." Clint Hurdle likes to make moves and hasn't been averse to having a lot of depth to allow pinch runners, defensive subs and the like. Indianapolis' season ends September 5 and the Indians won't be in the playoffs, so it's likely the Pirates will bring up a handful of players on the first of the month and several more later. Assuming he's healthy enough, Chris Stewart would be a likely callup on the first, along with a couple relievers and a utility player.
The team is in the unusual situation of having a number of interesting players who are eligible for minor league free agency but who have had strong seasons. At least a couple of those players have been outplaying guys who are on the 40-man roster and might be more useful as callups. They'll have to be added to the roster at the beginning of November for the team to avoid losing them. That's typically about two and a half weeks ahead of the deadline for protecting players from the Rule 5 draft. In some cases, it might make more sense to add the player to the roster now.
Chris Stewart, C: Given his knee problems, it's doubtful Stewart will be any more useful than Eric Fryer or, especially, Elias Diaz. Even before he went on the disabled list, he wasn't having a good season in any area, including pitch framing. Still, the Pirates seem determined to have him finish the season in the majors.
Elias Diaz, C: Diaz is probably a better player than Stewart on offense or defense, but he's short on veteranosity. He'll probably come up after the AAA season ends, unless Stewart isn't ready to go on the first. With Stewart's health issues, Francisco Cervelli's propensity for injuries, and Eric Fryer just not being very good, the Pirates will need to keep four catchers available.
Alen Hanson, IF: Hanson would probably be a lock to come up on the first, but he's currently out with a quad strain. I don't know when he's expected back. He'd be useful due to his speed and defensive value (at second, at least), and he's been hitting well lately. He's also on his last option, so it wouldn't hurt for the Pirates to take whatever looks at him they can get.
Jung-Ho Kang, 3B: He'll be activated once he's healthy.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP: The Pirates will probably want Glasnow to get as many starts as possible in the minors. It's also not that clear what he'd do in the majors, as everybody in the rotation is pitching well right now except Gerrit Cole, and he's not going anywhere. I'd be surprised if they used Glasnow in relief. He'd make the most sense as a sixth starter, though, and if the team falls out of playoff contention it'd make sense to give him a start or two.
Drew Hutchison, RHP: He's shown no evidence that he can help in the majors. The Jays certainly didn't think so. The Pirates, however, more or less said he'd be up in September. Considering that he has 73 major league starts behind him, it's pretty hard to argue that he's not ready. The alternative argument for not calling him up isn't going to be appealing to a front office that just acquired him in a controversial trade.
Kyle Lobstein, LHP: I'm not a fan, but Lobstein strikes me as a guy they'll call up on the first to give Hurdle an extra, left-handed bullpen arm. Sort of the backup Locke.
A.J. Schugel, RHP: After struggling initially when he was sent down to AAA, Schugel has been outstanding lately. He should be one of the callups on the first.
Jason Rogers, 1B/3B: Rogers is hitting a very mediocre 266/343/377 (as of 8/26) as a 28-year-old, bat-first corner player in AAA. There's little reason to think he can be useful in the majors and he should be coming off the roster in the fall. A better choice might be . . .
Jose Osuna, 1B/OF: Osuna's had a long history of not hitting well enough to be a prospect as a corner player, but he's been hot -- far better than Rogers -- since he moved up to AAA, and he's still only 23. He'll be a minor league free agent if he's not added to the roster. If the Pirates think there's anything real to his hot streak, he'd be a much better callup than Rogers. For one thing, he's killing LHPs this year, although for his career his platoon splits have been more moderate. He could be useful as a pinch hitter.
Max Moroff, IF: I'm not putting him in the likely callups because the Pirates probably will want to place some limit on the number of players they add. They could call him up and almost certainly will if Hanson isn't healthy. Kang's status could be a factor, too.
Gift Ngoepe, SS: Ngoepe has been overmatched at the plate, striking out in 40% of his ABs. Despite his good glove, his hitting is just too weak even for an infield backup. He should be a candidate to come off the roster in the off-season, but it'd be great if he saw some action in the majors first.
Willy Garcia, OF: Garcia is struggling along with a .665 OPS and his usual poor plate discipline. He's taken a step backward from last season. He should be a candidate to come off the roster in the off-season, possibly being replaced by Barrett Barnes.
Steven Brault, LHP: Brault has really struggled lately. I can't see the Pirates using him in a pennant race right now.
Trevor Williams, RHP: Williams isn't on the roster, but will have to be added after the season. He's been pitching very well, but I doubt they'll want to make this move yet, especially with Glasnow and Hutchison available.
Frank Duncan, RHP: He's pitching extremely well, but he's come out of nowhere and I have no idea whether scouts view him as a major league starter or not. Duncan won't be eligible for the Rule 5 draft for a year and he's not going to start games over Glasnow or Hutchison, or maybe Brault either, so I don't see him coming up.
Curtis Partch, RHP: Partch is still on the 40-man roster, but hasn't pitched all that well lately in AAA. It might make more sense for the Pirates to call up . . .
Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP: Neverauskas is another guy who'll be a minor league free agent after the season. Considering that he's now reaching the upper-90s as a reliever, I can't see the Pirates letting him walk away. On the other hand, he's struggled a bit lately in AAA and has no major league experience, in contrast to Partch. I think it's more likely the Pirates will make this move after the season.