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September 30, 2010

Future Shock

Org Watch: Nationals, Red Sox, Braves

by Kevin Goldstein

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For every team, September is a time of learning in some ways, because you bring guys up from the minor leagues and try to see what you might get from them in the years to come. In these three cases—the Nationals, Red Sox, and Braves—each team has learned one strong piece of good news and a corresponding negative.

Nationals
On the good side, Danny Espinosa is ready for the big leagues. In his two full minor league seasons, Espinosa has amassed 40 home runs and 54 stolen bases—but he combined that with 245 whiffs and a mediocre .266 batting average. He will enter spring training as the favorite to be the Nats' second baseman.

The flip side is that pitcher Yunesky Maya is a bit of a mess. He's 29, and partially as a result of that age, he got called up after facing 94 batters in the minors. The problem is, his fastball only lives in the mid-to-high 80s. When that's the case, you need pinpoint control. Maya lacks that.

Red Sox
In the plus column, Ryan Kalish could be an answer in the outfield in Beantown. Kalish got a lot of playing time because of injuries, went into a slump, but has rebounded well—he has a .514 slugging percentage in September. His scouting reports are, for the most part, all positive. Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, and J.D. Drew are all slated to be in Boston in 2011, but after the trio combined for less than 200 games this year, there should be plenty of at-bats available for Kalish next season.

The bad news here is the bullpen. Daniel Bard is really the only reliable reliever on the staff, and late-season callups such as Dustin Richardson, Robert Manuel, Robert Coello, and Matt Fox are little more than warm bodies. Let's face it, when you are giving Rich Hill another chance, something has gone horribly wrong.

Braves
The good news is the development of reliever Craig Kimbrel; he has gone from Bobby Cox's doghouse to someone who could get a playoff roster spot (if the Braves make it). He has 37 strikeouts in 19 innings and has walked just three guys since September 10. Both stats are extremely impressive. If Billy Wagner is retiring, the in-house replacement is ready.

Freddie Freeman, though long a main Braves prospect, looks overmatched. He hit .319/.378/.521 at Triple A before he turned 21; that's extremely impressive. Yet the first baseman has seemed almost lost in Atlanta, going 2-for-21 with eight strikeouts. That's a small sample size, but Atlanta might want a backup plan for next year.  

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

6 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Wade

Hi Kevin...thanks for the update...does Josh Reddick have a future in beantown?

Sep 30, 2010 04:20 AM
rating: 0
 
epittman

I know you acknowledge it's a small sample size, but I still don't see how you can reach the conclusion that the Braves might need to look for a backup plan for Freeman after seeing him take 21 at-bats. I seriously doubt the production we saw from him at triple-A is just going to disappear.

Just to make his performance sound a little better, I'll mention that one of his hits is a homer off of Halladay and he added a double last night, putting him at 3-22.

Sep 30, 2010 07:52 AM
rating: 1
 
Infrancoeurgible

That was a bomb off Halladay too.

His first MLB at bat, no?

Sep 30, 2010 11:38 AM
rating: 0
 
NYYanks826

Nah, Freeman's home run came a little over a week ago. He had had about 10-15 ABs before that point. Doesn't take away from the fact that the HR was off of Halladay.

I agree that perhaps we're jumping the gun a bit saying that the Braves might want to look for a back-up plan. This is just a cup of coffee for the kid, getting him ready for likely full-time work next year. If we're at the end of April 2011 and he's putting up Jordan Schafer-esque numbers, THEN we might have a problem.

Sep 30, 2010 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
jrfukudome

...and thus the need for the back-up plan.

Sep 30, 2010 14:29 PM
rating: 1
 
hoopster3

I will try not to sound either bitter or snarky...but the Red Sox...again? for the 4th time in the last 3 months...while other teams haven't gotten a spot once all year? I love your work Kevin, but this is frustrating...

Oct 01, 2010 10:37 AM
rating: -3
 
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