Luke Erickson: Who they gonna call?

For the first six seasons in D.C., Sept. 1 meant one thing for fans of the Washington Nationals: Let’s see if any of these minor leaguers might make the team next spring. Like, for example, Ian Desmond in 2009, Wilson Ramos in 2010, and the trio of Steve Lombardozzi, Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock in 2011 (yes, it counts because Milone and Peacock were key pieces in the trade for Gio Gonzalez).

But this season, like the last five, the Nats are playoff contenders and the expectations for the call-ups are different. It’s depth for the bench, extra arms in the ‘pen and another catcher or two.

Injuries to what could nearly be a starting team have taken away a lot of the drama or speculation. The question is ordinarily “Who might they call up?” This year, who’s left to be called up?

Answer: Maybe just a handful. Putting aside the numerous guys who will be eligible to come off the disabled list, let’s take a look at some candidates.

Let’s start with the easiest and most obvious: Pedro Severino, who’s been this year’s Xavier “Carry On” Cedeno for his multiple trips back and forth from Syracuse.

Next, it would seem Erick Fedde might be asked to stick around and provide some innings, even if some folks argue that he should be in the current rotation instead of A.J. Cole, who seems to be middle-relief material to everyone but Mike Rizzo.

Rafael Bautista, who missed 10 weeks this season from an undisclosed injury, also seems like a candidate to be asked to pinch-run and play defense.

Beyond those three? It seems doubtful. Austin Voth, who was added to the 40-man last November, has been knocked around at both Triple-A and Double-A, and, reportedly, his velocity has slipped dramatically.

As noted in a previous column, Raudy Read seems more likely to be sent to Arizona for six weeks than to be the fourth catcher in D.C. for a month. Jose Marmolejos, the Nats’ minor league offensive Player of the Year in both 2015 and 2016, also seems like an unlikely choice, given that he’s still in Double-A and didn’t get started until mid-May due to injury.

And for those wondering about Victor Robles, the odd-on favorite for the 2017 minor league offensive Player of the Year, he’s not on the 40-man roster ... yet.

Luke Erickson blogs about the Nationals’ minor league affiliates for NationalsProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter: @nats_prospects. His thoughts on the Nationals’ farm system will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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