Friday, April 10, 2009

The 26th Man - American League

posted by Jon Williams
There is absolutely no reason to doubt that every team in baseball will make use of it's minor league system this season. Below you'll find the hitting and pitching prospects that not only would have a huge impact, but are also nearly ready for action in the major leagues. These are the guys you need to be ready to grab when they hit the free agent lists.

All statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs.com

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The Baltimore Orioles - Matt Wieters
The Orioles are just killing time (and maybe saving a few bucks) by keeping catcher Matt Wieters in the minor leagues. Not only is he ready for the major leagues by most estimations but he would also be the kind of impact bat the Orioles tried so desperately to sign over the winter. The Orioles have a decent lineup already and what they really need is pitching but they won't rush their arms to the majors. Wieters however can help the Orioles win by bludgeoning their opponents to death.

Honorable Mention:
Chris Tillman

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2008 Orioles (A+) 229 79 15 48 40 44 47 1 2 0.345
2008 Orioles (AA) 208 76 12 41 51 38 29 1 0 0.365
2009 Bill James 416 127 21 60 74 67 56 2 1 0.305

The Boston Red Sox - Lars Anderson
Although a lot of analysts might predict that Clay Buchholz would be the first call-up, I believe they would be wrong. The Red Sox are loaded with pitching and John Smoltz should come off the disabled list in June making the starting rotation even deeper. But Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, and Rocco Baldelli are all established injury risks and major cogs in Boston's offense. Should one of them go down Lars Anderson's ability to hit for average and power (think Joey Votto at best, James Loney at worst) should come in very handy.

Honorable Mention:
Josh Reddick

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2007 Red Sox (A) 458 132 10 69 69 71 112 2 4 0.288
2007 Red Sox (A+) 35 12 1 13 9 11 9 0 0 0.343
2008 Red Sox (A+) 306 97 13 58 50 46 64 0 0 0.317
2008 Red Sox (AA) 133 42 5 27 30 29 43 1 0 0.316
2009 CHONE 461 107 7 57 56 51 142 2 1 0.232
2009 Oliver 458 121 13

54 114

0.265
2009 ZiPS 557 139 15 65 74 56 150 3 3 0.25

The New York Yankees - Mark Melancon
The Yankees don't have many problems that cannot be cured by the throwing of millions of dollars, but they have failed to build a bullpen that provides anyone with much faith that Joba Chamberlain will remain in the rotation. Mark Melancon could be exactly the number two guy in the bullpen the Yankees need. This of course assumes that the bullpen is more of a problem than the rotation, which judging by the first week of games is a rather large assumption.

Honorable Mention: Phil Hughes

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Yankees (A-) 9.39 2.35 4 0 0.294 1.43 0.398 36.40% 1.9
2008 Yankees (A+) 7.11 2.13 3.33 0.71 0.267 1.26 0.318 79.50% 3.48
2008 Yankees (AA) 8.52 2.17 3.92 0.54 0.186 0.89 0.238 75.40% 2.82
2008 Yankees (AAA) 9.9 1.8 5.5 0.45 0.163 0.75 0.225 61.60% 2.4
2009 CHONE 6.75 3.38 2 1.35 0.271 1.43 0.303 72.60% 4.78
2009 ZiPS 6.12 2.83 2.17 1.41 0.287 1.45 0.313
4.75

The Tampa Bay Rays - David Price

He came thisclose to making the team out of spring training but the Rays who are loaded with pitching chose to give him a few weeks at AAA before he comes to the majors for good. The funny thing is I can see the Rays having an offensive need far before they have a pitching one but they don't really have that hitting prospect of both the impact and ready variety. If they truly have an offensive need the Rays are most likely to trade some of their pitching for it.

Honorable Mention: Reid Brignac

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2008 Rays (A+) 9.61 1.82 5.29 0 0.223 1.01 0.315 80.00% 1.67
2008 Rays (AA) 8.68 2.53 3.44 1.11 0.207 1.02 0.249 93.90% 3.92
2008 Rays (AAA) 8.5 4.5 1.89 0 0.302 1.72 0.395 67.70% 2.81
2008 Rays 7.71 2.57 3 0.64 0.186 0.93 0.225 79.40% 3.42
2008 Rays 12.71 6.35 2 1.59 0.111 1.06 0.111 87.00% 4.72
2009 CHONE 6.72 3.87 1.74 1.14 0.271 1.48 0.308 71.00% 4.72
2009 Marcel 6.92 3.23 2.14 0.92 0.252 1.31 0.292 71.70% 4.16
2009 ZiPS 6.3 3.15 2 1.18 0.258 1.33 0.286
4.49

The Toronto Blue Jays - Brett Cecil/Brad Mills

Adding Travis Snider and Adam Lind to the lineup on a regular basis should be a giant boost to the Blue Jays offense. Their pitching staff has taken quite a few hits due to injuries and free agent defections. This is why I see the Jays calling on their pair of lefty starters before anyone else. Why cheat and list them both? Because I'm fairly confident they'll need both really soon. Cecil probably has the edge if I have to pick just one. These guys are not aces but they are solid rotation starters who should be solid contributors to fantasy squads for a long time.

Honorable Mention: J.P. Arencibia

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2007 Blue Jays (A-) 10.15 1.99 5.09 0.18 0.204 0.95 0.294 82.30% 2.05
2008 Blue Jays (A+) 9.58 1.74 5.5 0.87 0.171 0.77 0.216 90.90% 2.91
2008 Blue Jays (AA) 10.08 2.67 3.78 0.46 0.232 1.15 0.32 79.20% 2.71
2008 Blue Jays (AAA) 9.1 4.7 1.94 0.29 0.245 1.43 0.327 63.40% 3.17
2009 CHONE 7.07 4.18 1.69 1.18 0.264 1.48 0.302 71.90% 4.8
2009 ZiPS 6.5 3.6 1.81 1 0.26 1.39 0.295
4.33

The Chicago White Sox - Gordon Beckham
The White Sox already need him. There is no way they can continue with Dewayne Wise and Chris Getz as the leadoff hitters. Gordon Beckham is not a classic leadoff hitter but he'll do until the White Sox can develop or trade for one. Beckham is a natural shortstop but showed this spring that he could easily transition to second base, and I can only imagine a switch to the outfield would be even simpler for such a gifted athlete.

Honorable Mention: Dayan Viciedo

Season Team BB% K% BB/K OBP OPS ISO BABIP wOBA
2008 White Sox (A) 7.90% 12.10% 0.71 0.365 0.865 0.19 0.313 0.379
The Cleveland Indians - David Huff
I happen to believe that Cliff Lee will have a fine season for the Indians. However Fausto Carmona is on my likely to flop list. Their rotation is the biggest weakness on a team loaded offensively and in the bullpen. David Huff projects as a solid rotation starter by most accounts but I see a lot of Brandon Webb in him. He induces lots of groundballs and strikes out enough batters to make him a fantasy favorite. Matt LaPorta is probably ready to be a big bat in the lineup but the Indians are not desperate for his bat just yet. They'll need Huff very soon.

Honorable Mention: Matt LaPorta

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Indians (A-) 9.39 8.22 1.14 0 0.294 2.09 0.398 70.60% 4.24
2007 Indians (A+) 6.94 2.26 3.07 0.6 0.253 1.21 0.302 74.20% 3.33
2008 Indians (AA) 8.5 1.92 4.43 0.69 0.192 0.88 0.24 80.80% 2.99
2008 Indians (AAA) 9.04 1.67 5.4 0.89 0.23 1.03 0.291 73.50% 3.15
2009 CHONE 6.92 2.97 2.33 1.29 0.264 1.34 0.297 73.00% 4.54
2009 ZiPS 6 2.32 2.58 1.35 0.282 1.37 0.308
4.53

The Detroit Tigers - Cale Iorg
There is just no way that Adam Everett can survive an entire season as the Tigers shortstop. He has zero for a bat and his glove while good is not so good that the Tigers will tolerate a hole in the lineup longer than it takes Cale Iorg to make an impact at AA Erie. Iorg has been compared to a young Nomar Garciaparra (ironically they used to compare Adam Everett to Nomar as well - "they" sure screwed up that one) but probably will not be as good as Nomar was at his best. That's my opinion, GM Dave Dombrowski believes he'll be an All-Star for the Tigers which doesn't necessarily contradict my idea, does it? The Tigers will be desperate for pitching by May but their system does not have anyone ready to make an impact who is not already in the majors.

Honorable Mention: Wilkin Ramirez

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2007 Tigers (R) 11 2 0 1 0 1 6 0 0 0.182
2007 Tigers (A+) 18 5 0 0 5 1 5 0 0 0.278
2008 Tigers (A+) 383 96 10 61 47 35 111 22 11 0.251
2009 CHONE 400 79 6 43 39 23 153 12 5 0.198
2009 ZiPS 409 80 10 44 35 22 148 16 13 0.196

The Kansas City Royals - Daniel Cortes
The Royals actually have solid players at most positions. Their rotation is not stellar but is very solid. The bullpen includes a collection of solid veteran arms with a a variety of pitching styles. Daniel Cortes is the prospect that is easiest to see on the Royals in 2009 even if he isn't their best prospect. He has the stuff to be a dominate reliever right now. The Royals still see him as a starter which is why he remains in the minors. I'm calling it 50/50 whether Cortes will get the call as a starter or reliever.

Honorable Mention: Mitch Maier

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Royals (A) 7.71 4.37 1.76 1.8 0.288 1.63 0.324 65.70% 5.8
2006 White Sox (A) 8.02 3.18 2.53 0.5 0.264 1.37 0.332 63.40% 3.34
2007 Royals (A+) 8.78 3.29 2.67 0.51 0.227 1.2 0.295 72.30% 3.28
2008 Royals (AA) 8.41 4.24 1.98 1 0.238 1.35 0.29 77.80% 4.4
2009 CHONE 6.73 5.5 1.22 1.57 0.294 1.79 0.325 68.60% 5.92
2009 ZiPS 5.27 4.76 1.11 1.59 0.288 1.67 0.302
5.84

The Minnesota Twins - Kevin Mulvey
The Twins are pretty solid from 1-25 but it is pretty easy to predict they'll need another arm at some point during the season. Kevin Mulvey is a likely candidate to be the first callup due to his versatility (starting or relieving) and his minor league experience.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Swarzak

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Mets (R) 4.5 0 1 0 0.151 0.5 0.177 100.00% 2.2
2006 Mets (AA) 6.75 3.38 2 0.68 0.21 1.13 0.246 80.90% 3.8
2007 Mets (AA) 6.53 2.55 2.56 0.24 0.253 1.24 0.307 63.90% 3.08
2007 Mets (AAA) 4.5 0 3 0 0.106 0.33 0.126 100.00% 2.2
2008 Twins (AAA) 7.36 2.92 2.52 0.97 0.267 1.35 0.315 68.60% 4.06
2009 CHONE 5.95 3.44 1.73 1.25 0.283 1.5 0.311 70.50% 4.9
2009 ZiPS 4.81 3.35 1.43 1.2 0.285 1.5 0.302
4.91

The Los Angeles Angels - Brandon Wood

In almost any other organization, Brandon Wood would be an established major leaguer by now. His power is definitely real. He isn't likely to hit better than .250-.260 but that kind of average with 30 homers from the shortstop position is very acceptable. Any injury in the infield will bring Wood to the majors.

Honorable Mention:

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2006 Angels (AA) 453 125 25 74 83 54 149 19 3 0.276
2007 Angels (AAA) 437 119 23 73 77 45 120 10 1 0.272
2007 Angels 33 5 1 2 3 0 12 0 0 0.152
2008 Angels (AAA) 395 117 31 82 84 45 104 6 5 0.296
2008 Angels 150 30 5 12 13 4 43 4 0 0.2
2009 Bill James 257 65 13 36 39 20 71 6 2 0.253
2009 CHONE 491 114 21 68 69 42 164 9 3 0.232
2009 Marcel 260 62 8 30 30 17 61 5 1 0.238
2009 Oliver 551 134 27

43 158

0.243
2009 ZiPS 532 122 21 62 77 38 148 9 3 0.229

The Oakland Athletics - Aaron Cunningham

The Athletics have tons of options for a call-up but with Billy Beane's aggressive promoting and signing style this season I think he'll reach for the best available when he dips into his minor league system (as opposed to a more known but mediocre option). Aaron Cunningham looks a lot like Matt Holliday. He has good but not great tools and decent plate discipline for such a young player.

Honorable Mention: Adrian Cardenas

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO CS AVG
2006 White Sox (A) 341 104 11 58 41 34 72 10 0.305
2007 White Sox (A+) 252 74 8 51 37 34 39 8 0.294
2007 Diamondbacks (A+) 123 44 3 25 20 5 23 3 0.358
2007 Diamondbacks (AA) 118 34 5 25 20 12 27 3 0.288
2008 Athletics (AA) 347 110 12 65 52 38 92 4 0.317
2008 Athletics (AAA) 76 29 5 21 14 11 16 1 0.382
2008 Athletics 80 20 1 7 14 6 24 0 0.25
2009 Bill James 256 74 8 42 37 24 64 4 0.289
2009 CHONE 473 120 11 71 55 39 129 7 0.254
2009 Marcel 219 60 6 28 33 21 47 1 0.274
2009 Oliver 436 121 15

35 99
0.278
2009 ZiPS 532 132 17 72 69 42 110 9 0.248

The Seattle Mariners - Greg Halman
The Mariners have no need to rush anyone through their system. They have made it clear to their fanbase (if not outright admitting it) that this is a rebuilding year (they like to call it a transition year) and losing a lot of games may be a part of that. Greg Halman is a player that almost demands that he be advanced through the system quickly. He also has the most star qualities of anyone to come through the Mariner system since Alex Rodriguez. Halman will be an annual 30/30 threat that has been compared to Andre Dawson. I happen to think Grady Sizemore is a good comparison.

Honorable Mention: Michael Saunders

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2006 Mariners (A-) 116 30 5 19 15 3 32 10 4 0.259
2007 Mariners (A-) 238 73 16 37 37 21 85 16 8 0.307
2007 Mariners (A) 187 34 4 26 15 8 77 15 7 0.182
2008 Mariners (A+) 257 69 19 52 53 16 76 23 1 0.268
2008 Mariners (AA) 235 65 10 43 30 16 66 8 6 0.277
2009 CHONE 452 90 10 59 45 21 172 16 7 0.199
2009 Oliver 499 119 23

24 157

0.238
2009 ZiPS 480 108 19 55 64 20 138 30 12 0.225

The Texas Rangers - Derek Holland
The Rangers have a loaded minor league system. They could probably call up a player to fill-in at any position and that player would warrent consideration by fantasy owners. Derek Holland is a potential ace pitcher. The Rangers need nothing more desperately.

Honorable Mention: Neftali Feliz / Justin Smoak

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2007 Rangers (A-) 11.15 2.82 3.95 0.94 0.232 1.16 0.321 68.70% 3.29
2008 Rangers (A) 8.74 2.79 3.14 0.19 0.226 1.13 0.302 74.10% 2.53
2008 Rangers (A+) 10.74 1.45 7.4 0.29 0.186 0.81 0.274 56.90% 1.81
2008 Rangers (AA) 10.04 2.08 4.83 0 0.16 0.77 0.24 80.00% 1.66
2009 CHONE 6.79 4.11 1.65 1.74 0.278 1.54 0.302 71.00% 5.6
2009 ZiPS 5.19 3.38 1.54 0.87 0.267 1.4 0.294
4.35

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