With Carlos Gomez placed on the disabled list with a concussion and Jim Edmonds traded to the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers have re-called Lorenzo Cain to man center field. Because many Brewer fans have come to loath Gomez for his lack of plate discipline and production, Cain has been elevated to savior-status. Fantasy owners must ask if the former 17th round pick has earned it.
Cain was drafted by the Brewers with the 496th overall pick during the 2004 amateur draft out of Madison County, Florida. He was drafted for his raw tools and still requires polish on his plate skills. That sounds like Carlos Gomez but Gomez is like a jack hammer as Cain is to a hammer. But tools are only useful when you know how to use them. This is where Cain has developed a slight advantage.
Cain has shown the ability to exercise patience and draw walks. Unfortunately, he is still very raw at the plate. He has very little power and it would be surprising if he exceeded single digit homer totals on a regular basis. However, his speed is very good which helps him on defense and in stealing bases. Although he is having a strong season, it is very BABIP driven. A speedster like Cain who hits the ball on the ground can often maintain high BABIPs, but Cain still strikes out too often to hit for consistently high averages. Still, a player that can hit for a decent average and on-base percentage and steals bases would seem useful in the eyes of most fantasy owners.
Unfortunately the last two seasons have seen the Brewers give their basestealers the red light. Since being 11th in team stolen bases in 2008 the Brewers finished 28th in 2009 and are presently 21st in MLB. Given the red light, Cain becomes nearly useless as a fantasy player and would contribute very little to a team's offense in all but the deepest of leagues. That still leaves him slightly ahead of Carlos Gomez, despite his superior tools.
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