Every September, Major League Baseball expands its active roster from 25 to 40 players. Most of these additional spots are used to give top prospects their first taste of the big leagues. These players can also make an impact on the pennant race, as baseball is the only major sport to change its roster rules during the most important part of the season.

In 2008, the Rays promoted top prospect David Price on Sept. 14th, and the future Cy Young winner tossed 14 innings with a 1.93 ERA. During the postseason, Price became the club’s closer and helped the Rays win the American League pennant.

Last season, Xander Bogaerts was called up in late August and batted .250/.364/.684 in 44 regular-season at-bats. In the postseason, Bogaerts hit .296/.412/.481 to help the Red Sox win the World Series.

Dodgers outfield prospect Joc Pederson has a chance to be this year’s version of Bogaerts and make a direct impact on the National League West race. Los Angeles is currently five games ahead of the Giants in the division, and general manager Ned Colletti told Jim Bowden and Grant Paulsen that Pederson and second baseman Alex Guerrero will be called up on Labor Day.

If today were Sept. 1st, I’d be inclined to bring them both [up]. We’ll see how it goes in the last few weeks of their season and see where our club is at.

The 22-year old Pederson recently became the first 30-homer, 30-steal player in the Pacific Coast League in 80 years.  Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com that he’s not expecting to throw Pederson into the fire when he comes up; September will be more about acclimating him to the Major League game. The Dodgers have nine games in September against current playoff contenders, including six against the Giants, their closest competitor in the division.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan told The Front Office with Jim Duquette and Grant Paulsen he doesn’t agree with the philosophy to promote a prospect just to acclimate them to the Major League game.

“As a general manager, I’d more like to see a guy come and contribute, or at least get repetitions,” Ryan said. “I don’t doubt that it would benefit any player to be around the atmosphere for their future … but if they aren’t going to play, I’m not sure many general managers just want them to be up there and sit around.”

Though the Texas Rangers have the worst record in baseball, general manager Jon Daniels will not be promoting 2014 All Star Futures Game MVP Joey Gallo. The 20-year old third baseman has 40 home runs and 98 RBI across Single-A and Double-A.

“I think it will be next year,” Daniels said of Gallo’s big league debut on The Front Office with Jim Bowden and Jeff Joyce. “There are still some things that we want to see him continue improving on, and you’ve seen at each level he’s had that adjustment period.”

The Rangers play 24 of their 27 games in September against current contenders.  They will play the two teams tied for the AL West lead a total of 13 times (six against the Angels and seven against the Athletics, including a four-game series in Texas to end the season).

Like the Rangers, the Chicago White Sox will not be playing for a playoff spot in September. However, the White Sox can have a say in who wins the American League Central. Chicago has 17 games against playoff contenders, including six against the division-leading Royals and another three against the Tigers, who trail Kansas City by 1-1/2 games.

Chicago could promote 2014 first-round selection Carlos Rodon, who has a 2.57 ERA over seven innings since he was elevated to Triple-A Charlotte. The White Sox could add the lefty to bolster their bullpen in September, like they did with Chris Sale in 2010. Sale was selected 13th overall in the 2010 draft, and had a 1.93 ERA over 23-1/3 innings of relief that September. He has turned into White Sox ace, and one of the best pitchers in the American League. The White Sox may choose a similar path to help develop Rodon.

“I’m telling you there is a good chance he ends up in the major leagues pitching in the back-end of the bullpen,” Duquette said. “I don’t care for it because the White Sox aren’t playing for anything.

“It certainly didn’t hurt Sale’s development; in fact it helped Sale’s development and [gave] him that extra month of really good competition,” Duquette added.

So, if a team is trying to win a pennant or just playing spoiler, September is a time when the top prospects in the game can certainly make an impact at the big league level.

To catch all the pennant race fun, tune into MLB Network Radio on Sirius 209 and XM 89.

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