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December 27, 2010

Future Shock

Monday Ten-Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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A week ago, we looked at 10 players in the American Leaguewho are going to (likely) trend up (i.e. the big leagues) or down (i.e. longer stays in the minors) based on what's been happening in free agency.

Now, natural progression: the National League.

Brandon Allen, 1B

Diamondbacks

The Ssnakes are looking for another solution here, but Allen isn't the worst option. In 160 Triple-A games, he's gone yard 38 times and walked 103 times. His batting average will be low, but the power and patience should make up for it.

Brandon Belt, 1B

Giants

Last year, this guy moved from High-A to Triple-A, batting .352/.455/.620 across three levels. The scouting reports match the stats, so it was a surprise in some respects that the Giants re-upped with Aubrey Huff. GM Brian Sabean says Belt will compete for an outfield job this spring; it seems that whether it's first base or left field, they aren't going to leave his bat in the minors for long.

Domonic Brown, OF

Phillies

Brown has nothing left to prove in the minors (.327/.391/.589 at the upper levels of the Phils' system), and Jayson Werth is gone—so it seems natural he'll be a starter come April. GM Ruben Amaro, though, has spoken of a Ross Gload/Ben Francisco platoon in right field. This will be an interesting situation to watch during spring training for a prohibitive NL favorite.

Matt Dominguez, 3B

Marlins

Wes Helms, Emilio Bonifacio, and Chris Coghlan could all be options for the Fish here. Dominguez is great with the glove—you could argue he's the best defensive third baseman in the minors—but above A-ball, he has a .241 career batting average. He's going to compete for the job in February and March, but he's likely going to end up in the minors for more tuning.

Freddie Freeman, 1B

Braves

Atlanta isn't even pretending Freeman has competition for this job. He's not in the class of Jason Heyward, but he might be close.

Brett Jackson, OF

Cubs

In the short term, the Cubs' desire is to get more playing time for the solid-but-unspectacular Tyler Colvin. Long term, The Cubs won't spend to fill outfield gaps, as they are making sure their path is clear for Jackson, the club's first-round pick in 2009. Jackson, who's a spectacular athlete with above-average raw power and speed, is the center fielder of the future, and the hope is that, like Freeman for the Braves in 2010, Jackson will get some big-league experience in September to prepare for an Opening-Day job the following year.

Craig Kimbrel, RHP

Braves

Billy Wagner seems to have ceded the closer job to Kimbrel; the latter has a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a slider that is unhittable at times. He has whiffed 14.8 per nine innings over his career. All told, he seems like a good fit as a closer—and maybe even a great one (including the playoffs, he walked five batters in his final 15 2/3 innings last season).

Wilson Ramos, C

Nationals

This guy was behind Joe Mauer in Minnesota— read: not playing catcher anytime in the next few seasons—but he struggled at Triple-A this past season. Ivan Rodriguez is around for one more year, and Ramos needs at-bats, he doesn't need to ride the pine. He'll likely be the Triple-A catcher and get the job in 2012. He's a plus defender with limited offensive upside.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

Padres

When the Padres traded Adrian Gonzalez to Boston earlier in the month, they believed they found his long-term replacement in Rizzo, the best hitting prospect in the Red Sox system at the time of the trade. By signing Brad Hawpe last week to man the position for one year, they're hoping that Rizzo can be ready for Opening Day in 2012. He's a prospect who has always hit for a high average until 2010, when he started to tap into his power potential but at the price of less contact and a lower batting average. The good news is that he's proven he can hit for average and power—but to be a productive big league first baseman, he needs to prove he can do both at the same time.

Mark Rogers, RHP

Brewers

Rogers looked good for a rotation spot this spring then the Brewers got Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum—now he's on the outside looking in. Rogers has a nice mid-90s fastball and a plus-curve, but he missed the entire 2007 and 2008 seasons due to shoulder problems, so a bullpen role might be his best bet anyway. The Brewers have a shaky bullpen, so that could be Rogers' entry into the bigs in 2011.

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

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

BP Comment Quick Links

buffum
(458)

So you're saying Brandon Allen would be worth it if he provided ... the same skill set Mark Reynolds was run out of town for exhibiting?

Dec 27, 2010 14:16 PM
rating: 2
 
tvnick5

Add Takashi Saito to the BREWERS pen. There is still room for Rogers, albeit in a minor role, until the 2 year window expires.

Dec 27, 2010 16:07 PM
rating: 0
 
HeavyHitter

Won't Norris be ready by 2010? Ramos seems eternally blocked.

Dec 27, 2010 18:13 PM
rating: 0
 
HeavyHitter

2012. Brain-to-finger malfunction.

Dec 27, 2010 18:14 PM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

I was thinking that the whole point of re-upping Ivan was as a kind of playing-instructor for Ramos. Surprised to see the AAA projection.

Dec 28, 2010 00:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Matthew Avery

Thanks for keeping me entertained at home over the holidays, KG!

If you had to put a floor on Freeman's 2011 season, about where would it be? It seems to me that the Braves are taking an awfully big risk by relying so completely on a rookie who, as you say, is not in the class of Jason Heyward.

Dec 28, 2010 10:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Nick Carter

I'll keep this in this line of questioning too since it's about Freeman.

Last winter you said that you and some scouts had serious doubts about Freeman's ability to develop power. Have those fears been allayed or are they still there?

Dec 28, 2010 11:33 AM
rating: 0
 
beerchaser42

I think the reason the Dodgers seem so reluctant to acquire a decent LF is because Jerry Sands will be playing there in 2012. Well, that and the McCourts, of course.

Dec 29, 2010 06:51 AM
rating: 0
 
dREaDS Fan

Are some of these guys "prospects" or not? Brandon Allen & Dom Brown (& Kimbrel & Ramos?) are too experienced for the Top 11 prospect lists ... yet are the centerpiece of an article sub-titled "how free agency and trades have had an impact on NL prospects".

I'm splitting hairs ... but only becuase I'd have liked to have read about B'Allen in the D'Backs Top'11.

Dec 30, 2010 08:12 AM
rating: 0
 
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