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April 12, 2002

Prospectus Feature

Not-in-Book Players: Some Guys We Missed

by Baseball Prospectus

There are 30 teams in MLB, 25 players per team, for 750 roster spots total. We put out a book with nearly 1,600 players in it. You'd think we'd be able to cover those 750 roster spots, but no, every year MLB teams manage to find players we didn't cover and give them uniforms Opening Day. Right rude of them, we think.

Here's what we've been able to dredge up on the 29 guys we've identified as being on an Opening Day roster but not in Baseball Prospectus 2002.--JSS

Rodrigo Lopez, Orioles: Lopez was up with the Padres in 2000 and pitched poorly. A good winter in Mexico got him a return ticket to MLB with the Orioles. He's nothing special, just roster fodder holding the eventual place of John Stephens and Matt Riley.

Luis Garcia, Orioles: Not to be confused with the first-base prospect the Red Sox traded to the Cardinals for Dustin Hermanson, this Luis Garcia is an outfielder from the Mexican League. He's a decent fifth outfielder, with some speed and pop, and is young for an Oriole (26).

Carlos Baerga, Red Sox: The independent leagues have allowed washed-up players to keep the dream alive, some long enough to find their way back to the majors. Baerga won a job as an extra infielder with the Red Sox, as much because of their unsettled second base/third base situation as anything else. With Rey Sanchez and Shea Hillenbrand apparently in place now, Baerga should find himself seeking employment again soon.

Steve Kent, Devil Rays: An interesting exercise in scouting; there are pitchers who can go from A ball to the majors--it's less about repetitions as much as outright skill sets with pitchers. If Kent's ability to mow down left-handed batters is because his stuff is that nasty, the D-Rays gain a quality lefty. If he doesn't, well, he's the new Ramon Tatis. Like the next guy, Kent is someone the Devil Rays picked through the Rule 5 draft (from the Mariners, via the Angels).

Felix Escalona, Devil Rays: He's fast and has some power. There's a poor chance of success right now, but he's interesting. If there's a team that should be making the Rule 5 draft work for them, it's the Devil Rays. That they nabbed Escalona on waivers after he had a great camp for the Giants (who selected him from the Astros) means that they didn't even have to assume the risk.

Mike Porzio, White Sox: He's a serious journeyman--independent leagues, low minors, the Rockies--who can't dent bread on his best day, and has been injured a couple of times. He's the Sox' lefty specialist until Kelly Wunsch gets healthy, probably some time in May.

Jeff Farnsworth, Tigers: Farnsworth is a Rule 5 draftee from the Mariners, a good control/groundball guy who is supposed to offset the power relievers in the Tigers pen.

Terry Pearson, Tigers: Pearson is famous as Jim Morris, Jr.; the guy was out of baseball for a couple years and worked as a milkman before catching on in an independent league and working his way back. He throws strikes and keeps the ball in the park.

Darrell May, Royals: May, who last pitched in the major leagues in 1997, returns from Japan after establishing himself as a strikeout pitcher. He's a decent gamble as someone who might be a late-developing left-hander.

Brian Shouse, Royals: Shouse is a 33-year-old reliever who's been toiling in Triple-A for nine straight years, with the exception of 14 major-league innings and a brief demotion to Double-A in 1995. Last year, he altered his delivery against left-handed batters, coming down to a sidearm, herky-jerky motion that made him unhittable. His performance the last four years has been excellent, and he deserved a shot.

Luis Ugueto, Mariners: The Mariners have the sort of everyday lineup that they can afford to carry a Rule 5 guy, but there are real doubts about whether Ugueto should have been the guy they should pick and carry. He's a speedy middle infielder, the kind of guy who might well end up with more runs scored than at-bats if he stays up all year.

Chris Hammond, Braves: He last pitched in the majors in 1998, making four starts for whatever was left of the Marlins. He was out of baseball for two seasons before splitting 2001 between the Braves' and Indians' Triple-A affiliates. At some point, the resurrection of guys like Hammond as a way of chasing platoon advantages will stop. Until then, he and his kind--and there are a few on this list--will make good money.

Darren Holmes, Braves>: Apparently recovered from the neck problems that halted his career, he's back to help the Braves get games to John Smoltz. He's in danger of losing his job once John Foster or Billy Sylvester gets hot at Richmond.

The Braves also called up Aaron Small after the season began. That is one very interesting back of the bullpen.

Marty Malloy, Marlins: Sort of the poor man's Craig Counsell, Malloy has been beating the bushes forever. He can play all three infield spots. He lacks Lenny Harris's staying power, but is slightly more useful.

Ed Vosberg, Expos: See Chris Hammond.

Satoru Komiyama, Mets: The Japanese Greg Maddux opens his American career more like Mike, throwing mop-up and long relief at the back of the bullpen. Among the recent Japanese imports, Komiyama most resembles Shigetoshi Hasegawa, an angles-and-movement guy. The trade of Bruce Chen and Dicky Gonzalez put him in line for a rotation job later this summer.

Dave Hollins, Phillies: Tremendous switch-hitter with power, better from the right side, good on-base skills.

In 1992, anyway.

Why Hollins is on the roster is a bit of a mystery. He's a switch-hitter with some on-base ability, but he should never play the field, and hasn't slugged .400 in the majors since 1997.

Joe Borowski, Cubs: Made the team by being less bad than Carlos Zambrano and Courtney Duncan at the end of spring training. He's not even a Quadruple-A guy, but the injury to Kyle Farnsworth gives him six weeks to establish himself.

Donovan Osborne, Cubs: Osborne's ability to pitch on consecutive days is highly doubtful, so what good is he to a team needing him to be the 75-appearance, 50-inning specialist?

The Cubs bullpen has gone from a strength to a weakness, one that could keep them from contending.

Ricky Stone, Astros: Stone does a great job of keeping the ball on the ground and throwing strikes. He is definitely the sort of guy who might turn into a very handy middle reliever.

Takahito Nomura, Brewers: He made the team thanks to injuries to just about every other Brewer reliever going back to Jamie Cocanower. He's now the primary situational lefty with Ray King broken down.

Eduardo Perez, Cardinals: Perez is a valuable property on a team as left-handed as the Cardinals. There will be plenty of pinch-hitting opportunities, and because Perez is willing to play on every corner, he has value to Tony LaRussa when LaRussa starts moving guys around like an defensive coordinator.

Chris Donnels, Diamondbacks: Useful left-handed pinch-hitter on a team lousy with them. He'll likely lose his roster spot when Jay Bell returns, unless the Snakes get stupid with Junior Spivey.

Danny Klassen, Diamondbacks: He probably should have been in the book. The commitments to veterans Matt Williams, Jay Bell, and Tony Womack have prevented Klassen from getting much opportunity. He's a good fifth infielder, able to play three positions and provide power from the right side. Think Mark Loretta, with more pop and a bit more upside.

Kent Mercker, Rockies: He has apparently reinvented himself as lefty specialist, after years of not having much of a platoon split. Will it work? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really; the Rockies could have used the old Kent Mercker, who could provide 140 innings of long relief and spot starts, and who kept the ball out of play a lot, more than they need a specialist.

Kazuhisa Ishii, Dodgers: You've probably heard about him, if not before, then certainly after his major-league debut, which featured 5 2/3 innings of two-hit, ten-strikeout baseball. He throws four pitches, including a good fastball. If Sean Burroughs lets him, he'll be the Rookie of the Year.

Dave Roberts, Indians: The long-suffering almost-Indian, stolen from the Tigers in 1998, is patient and runs well. He can't throw, but neither could Tom Goodwin, and Roberts has more power than Goodwin does. Ideally, Roberts would be a good fourth outfielder, but this team doesn't have one of those either, so he's the starting center fielder. There are worse options, two of whom both played for the Dodgers last year. Credit Jim Tracy and Dan Evans for sinking their sunk costs and playing their best option. Not every team would have the guts.

Jason Boyd, Padres: Boyd did a good job last year as Scranton's closer and turned an NRI into a big-league job with the Padres. He's a strikeout pitcher with a pretty good chance of putting up 75 league-average innings in 2002, and leveraging that into major league jobs the rest of the decade. The Padre bullpen is somewhat unsettled, so Boyd will stick around as long as he's producing.

Trenidad Hubbard, Padres: Hubbard is a journeyman with the skill set of a pretty good fifth outfielder. He can handle all three outfield spots without embarrassing himself. At the plate, he has a good eye, some pop against lefties, and won't clog the basepaths. With the four outfielders in front of him, Hubbard won't see much playing time.

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