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January 31, 2013
Minor League Update
Potential Impact Rookies in 2013 (NL CENTRAL)
When we talk about "impact" rookies, it's important to note that several rookies will be getting the call to the majors and failing to help their team in any way, shape, or form. Coming up with a few big hits or making a couple of quality starts, however, could make a big difference at the end of a 162-game season. Here are some NL Central rookies who I think can make an impact on their team's success in 2013. Click HERE for my NL East picks and HERE for the AL East..
Junior Lake, IF/OF: It wouldn't be a surprise if Lake never puts it all together and never earns a regular starting job in the majors, but his set of tools is too intriguing to at least not find out. The 22 year-old, who has played primarily shortstop in the minors along with some time at second and third base, even played some left field in the Dominican Winter League. His ultimate role could be as a super-utilityman who offers some right-handed power and speed off the bench.
Brett Jackson, OF: Two of the top trade chips on the Cubs, should they fall out of contention, are outfielders Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus. If either go, Jackson figures to get a long look in center field where the team will try to find out if his overall skill set of speed, power, and defense is worth the massive amount of strikeouts that come with it.
Billy Hamilton, CF: The Reds aren't counting on Hamilton in 2013. He'll be playing center field for Triple-A Louisville and if things are going well in Cincinnati, he'll remain there until at least September. Even during a short September stint, though, Hamilton could make an impact as a late-inning pinch runner, especially if there's a tight pennant race going on. In order to see Hamilton in the majors earlier, the 22 year-old would have to show that he can handle center field while continuing to get on base. Combine that with an injury to one of the Reds' starting outfielders and the "Billy Hamilton era" can begin in Cincinnati.
Logan Schafer, OF: Center fielder Carlos Gomez appeared to have finally figured things out when he had an .809 OPS with 14 homers and 26 stolen bases after the All-Star break last season. Just in case that was a fluke and he really hasn't, Schafer would be the safe pick to make some starts in his place against some tough right-handed starters. The 26 year-old should settle into a role as a fourth outfielder and occasional starter in the majors.
Gerrit Cole, RHP: The Pirates have resisted the temptation to trade any of their top prospects in order to improve their big league team down the stretch over the past two seasons. The team has faded down the stretch in both cases but now a few of those prospects they refused to trade are close to helping out the big league club, including Cole. The top overall pick in the 2011 draft could be just as good as acquiring a big name starter at the deadline, except he might be ready to help sooner than July 31st.
Oscar Taveras, OF: This tweet by BP prospect guru Jason Parks pretty much says it all: @ProfessorParks I just asked a pro scouting dir about the biggest weakness in Oscar Taveras's game: "He doesn't play for us. That's all I can think of." Taveras is that good. He doesn't have a clear path to the majors until 2014 but a couple months of Taveras beating up on Triple-A pitching might be enough to entice the Cardinals to at least start working him into the outfield mix in the second half. An injury to a current starting outfielder that would keep them out of the lineup for more than a few weeks, however, could get Taveras to the majors before his 21st birthday on June 19th.