The Oakland A's have officially called up catcher Bruce Maxwell from Triple-A Nashville. There were a pair corresponding moves: to make room on the 25-man roster fellow catcher Stephen Vogt was placed on the family medical leave list, and to make room on the 40-man roster injured reliever Fernando Rodriguez was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Maxwell is not in the starting lineup on Saturday, which makes sense for multiple reasons, but there's still a chance he could make his MLB debut off the bench.
Maxwell was drafted by the A's in the 2nd round in 2012, and he's worked his way slowly but steadily up the minor league ranks ever since. The 25-year-old was having a solid season in Nashville through the end of June, and then suddenly he exploded for a 1.490 OPS and seven home runs in 13 July games. The hot streak earned him league Player of the Week honors to start the second half and upped his stock to "ready," and now apparently the A's agree.
Maxwell's biggest strength at the plate is his disciplined approach, with his ability to both draw walks and avoid strikeouts. Recently his raw power has shown up, too -- his prolific slugging in college was one of his calling cards at the time, and in June it finally started carrying over into the pros. His big frame (6'1, 250) doesn't lend any speed, but that's to be expected from a catcher anyway.
Maxwell, 2016 AAA: 219 PAs, .321/.393/.539, 10 HR, 24 BB, 38 Ks, 146 wRC+
It will be interesting to see his defense with our own eyes, as the organization has generally seemed pleased with his progress over the years, especially with his arm. Melissa Lockard of Scout.com has the following to say about his glovework:
Defensively, he is a strong game caller who receives the ball well and moves well behind the plate for a man his size. He has an above-average throwing arm and has thrown out 39% of would-be base-stealers this season.
Much like Ryon Healy before him, Maxwell isn't one of the first hitting prospects we expected to see reach the bigs. He entered the year at No. 28 on our Community Prospect List and was ranked behind seven of his Nashville lineup-mates, but his breakout was so big that it launched him past them and all the way up to Oakland. His OPS went up in every month, from April (.563) to May (.770) to June (.875) to his monster July (1.490). He's only struck out once in his last eight games (32 PAs).
The addition of Maxwell means someone else has to go, and for now that someone is Vogt. Family medical leave is not a common baseball transaction, and it's not clear at this time what the story is; whatever it is we all wish Vogt's family the best. The family medical leave list works the same as the bereavement list -- the player must miss at least three days but no more than seven, and if he needs more time then he can go on the more indefinite Restricted List. (Full rules PDF here.)
Meanwhile, right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who has been on the DL since July 4 with a strained rotator cuff in his pitching arm, will apparently miss some more time. With a return date no earlier than early September, there is now the distinct possibility that he will be out for the rest of the season. He has a 4.20 ERA (3.61 FIP) in 34 appearances this season.
Welcome, Bruce! Thoughts and prayers, Stephen! Get well soon, Fernando!