Tag Archives: Nate McLouth

Original Draft Series: #12 – Pittsburgh Pirates


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #12: Pittsburgh Pirates

General Managers(since 1994)

Cam Bonifay (1994-2001): 541-688
Dave Littlefield (2002-2007): 349-549
Neal Huntington (2008-Current): 129-194

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 0 0 1 2 2 11

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Jason Kendall 1992 – 1st Rd (23) 12 3 All-Star Appearances
1252 gm, .306/.387/.418, 67 HR, 471 RBI, 140 SB
Traded to OAK – 11/27/04
1B Jose Bautista 2000 – 20th Rd 3+4 400 gm, .241/.329/.403, 43 HR, 159 RBI, 10 SB Selected by BAL – 12/15/03
2B Neil Walker
2004 – 1st Rd (11) 6 74 gm, .287/.332/.421, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
3B Aramis Ramirez Int’l FA – 1994 9 559 gm, .263/.312/.435, 76 HR, 316 RBI Traded to CHC – 7/23/03
SS Jeff Keppinger 2001 – 4th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to NYM – 7/30/04
LF Nate McLouth 2000 – 25th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance, 1 Gold Glove
481 gm, .261/.339/.462, 60 HR, 194 RBI, 64 SB
Traded to ATL – 6/3/09
CF Andrew McCutchen 2005 – 1st Rd (11) 5 209 gm, .286/.362/.454, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 43 SB Currently with Org.
RF Nyjer Morgan
2002 – 33rd Rd 7 157 gm, .286/.351/.376, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 34 SB Traded to WAS – 6/30/09
DH Jose Guillen Int’l FA – 1992 7 336 gm, .267/.301/.406, 29 HR, 172 RBI Traded to TAM- 7/23/99
SP Ian Snell 2000 – 26th Rd 9 33-46, 4.75 ERA, 576 K, 308 BB, 693 IP Traded to SEA – 7/29/09
SP Tim Wakefield
1988 – 8th Rd 7 14-12, 4.17 ERA, 110 K, 110 BB, 220.1 IP Released – 4/20/05
SP Bronson Arroyo 1995 – 3rd Rd 7 9-14, 5.44 ERA, 111 K, 85 BB, 187 IP Selected by BOS – 2/4/03
SP Paul Maholm
2003 – 1st Rd (8) 7 45-53, 4.37 ERA, 570 K, 317 BB, 927.1 IP Currently with Org.
SP Zach Duke 2001 – 20th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
42-65, 4.42 ERA, 477 K, 244 BB, 913.2 IP
Currently with Org.
RP John Grabow 1997 – 3rd Rd 12 20-15, 4.09 ERA, 326 K, 167 BB, 363.1 IP Traded to CHC – 7/30/09
RP Sean Burnett 2000 – 1st Rd (19) 9 7-8, 4.54 ERA, 95 K, 77 BB, 160.2 IP Traded to WAS – 6/30/09
RP Mike Gonzalez 1997 – 30th Rd 9 7-9, 2.37 ERA, 287 SV, 183 K, 74 BB, 155.2 IP Traded to ATL – 1/19/07
RP Tom Gorzelanny 2003 – 2nd Rd 6 25-25, 4.79 ERA, 252 K, 176 BB, 383.1 IP Traded to CHC – 7/30/09
RP Leo Nunez Int’l FA – 2000 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 12/16/04
CL Matt Capps 2002 – 7th Rd 7 19-19, 67 SV, 3.61 ERA, 208 K, 50 BB, 271.2 IP Non-tendered – 12/12/09
BN Rajai Davis 2001 – 38th Rd 6 44 gm, .242/.333/.323, 2 RBI, 6 SB Traded to SF – 7/31/07
BN Ryan Doumit 1999 – 2nd Rd 11 490 gm, .270/.332/.441, 54 HR, 223 RBI, 10 SB Currently with Org.
BN Steven Pearce 2005 – 8th Rd 5 135 gm, .240/.313/.394, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB Currently with Org.
BN Ronny Paulino Int’l FA – 1997 11 304 gm, .278/.331/.382, 19 HR, 128 RBI Traded to PHI – 12/10/08
BN Pedro Alvarez 2008 – 1st Rd (2) 2 44 gm, .229/.307/.439, 9 HR, 26 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

This team has had a lot of high first round picks in the last 15 years, and they are finally starting to see some production from the,. While they had players like Sean Burnett and Paul Maholm , both of whom provided value but were definitely not the high end players that they had hoped, they are now seeing top tier players in Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez make an impact at the Major League level. Getting some late round values like Zack Duke and Ian Snell has definitely helped also.

International Free Agency

The Pirates have a few high-profile international free agent signees in Aramis Ramirez and Jose Guillen, but unfortunately many of their international free agents have not had a large positive impact with the Pirates. It seems at this point that their most well known international free agents have done well, just not in Pittsburgh. They have been active in a lot of markets, including India.

Overall Grade

B. I like the level of talent that has gone through the organization. But the fact that so many of these players either were given away (Rajai Davis, Aramis Ramirez, Leo Nunez), or did not have any success with the team itself shows why the success level in these past 15 seasons has been less than acceptable. I actually like the progress that the team is making, and with honegrown talents Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez locked in for the next few seasons, the team should start to see improvement in the standings as soon as next season.

Week in Review – July 19 to July 25


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (59-38) vs. Texas Rangers (58-41)
Chicago White Sox (53-44) vs. New York Yankees (62-35)

San Francisco Giants (56-43) vs. Atlanta Braves (57-41)
St. Louis Cardinals (55-44) vs. San Diego Padres (58-39)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .357
Runs – Mark Teixeira (NYY) 75
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 27
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) 88
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 35

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) 15
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) and Brian Wilson (SF) 29
ERA – Josh Johnson (FLA) 1.61
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 147
WHIP – Cliff Lee (TEX) 0.92

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Ben Sheets, Aaron Laffey, Luis Atilano, David DeJesus, Ryan Doumit, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettitte, Dustin Nippert, Scott Kazmir, Ryan Sweeney, Orlando Hudson, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez,

Return from the Disabled List: Mat Latos, Ryan Ludwick, Sergio Mitre, Brian Roberts, Josh Beckett, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Yovani Gallardo, Ramon Hernandez, Kevin Millwood, Nate McLouth, Jed Lowrie, Will Venable, Mike Gonzalez, Oliver Perez, Clay Buchholz, Luis Castillo, Luke Scott, Maicer Izturis, Matt Wieters,

To the Minors: Jhoulys Chacin, Andrew Oliver

Called Up: Cedrick Bowers, Alex Gordon, Jose Arredondo, Scott Sizemore, Armando Galarraga

Trades:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held on Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, with Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog being enshrined for their performances. Back in December, I wrote up my thoughts on whether Dawson was a Hall of Famer or not. (I thought he was)
  • Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th homerun of his career this week, and will earn $6 million extra when he hits #600 due to a clause in his contract. Good for him.
  • The Mariners are really looking like a mess, and I am thinking it is probably going to cost manager Don Wakamatsu his job before the end of the season. On Friday night, he got into a shouting argument in the dugout with Chone Figgins over Figgins’ lack of effort on a play in the 5th inning of that night’s game. I actually agree that Wakamatsu did the right thing by yanking Figgins from the game, but teams don’t fire players very often for this kind of stuff.
  • The Moneyball movie has begun shooting finally, with Brad Pitt set to play GM Billy Beane, Jonah Hill to play Paul De Podesta, and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing manager Art Howe. Having been through the 2002 season as an A’s fan, and having read the book, this one’s going to be interesting. I’m wondering if the movie reopens the stats vs. scouts argument wounds again.
  • Major League Baseball, very quietly, announced that minor leaguers will now be tested for HGH in addition to all the other things they are already tested for. I’d be shocked if the next collective bargaining agreement doesn’t have this test in it for Major Leaguers as well.
  • The Angels made the big moves this week with acquiring 3B Alberto Callaspo first in the week and then making the huge splash with acquiring SP Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks for 4 prospects. Really like the trade for the Angels, hate it for every other team in the division (including my A’s).

From the Twitter Followers and Friends

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.

From the Hall of Very Good: HOVG posted a series of articles looking at the next group of players to be eligible for the Hall of Fame voting in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 (so far). Excellent reads from all of them.

From the Daily Something: Bill had a guest post from Jeff Polman which went ahead and played out the remainder of the 1994 season via Strat-o-Matic baseball. It’s a really interesting read, and Strat-o-Matic is something I keep reminding myself that I might enjoy when I have some more time.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: A series I had not finished up from earlier in the month, the Original Draft Series, is a group of posts where I look at what an organization’s major league team could have looked like had they held onto every player that they either drafted or signed to their first professional contract. There may be 3 posts this week on this, or there may be 6 if I am feeling ambitious.

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Johan Santana to the Mets. This one’s a bit newer than a lot of the trades I have reviewed previously, but the players in the deal have pretty much finalized what their value in the trade is going to be, so it’s ready to be looked at I believe.

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ‘Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

The Week in Review: June 7-June 13


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (40-23) vs. Minnesota Twins (36-27)
Texas Rangers (35-28) vs. New York Yankees (40-23)

Los Angeles Dodgers (36-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (37-27)
Cincinnati Reds (36-28) vs. San Diego Padres (37-26)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Robinson Cano (NYY) – .371
Runs – Kevin Youkilis (BOS) – 54
Home Runs – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 19
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 56
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) – 25

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 12
Saves – Matt Capps (WAS) – 20
ERA – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 1.16
Strikeouts – Dan Haren (ARI) – 97
WHIP – Cliff Lee (SEA) – 0.93

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Nate McLouth, Rich Harden, J.J. Hardy, Jeremy Hermida, Aramis Ramirez, Orlando Hudson

Return from the Disabled List: Miguel Montero, George Sherrill, Ivan Rodriguez

To the Minors: Jake Fox, Lou Marson

Called Up: Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton, Carlos Santana, Brad Lincoln, Jose Tabata

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Clearly, the dominant story on the baseball landscape this week was the much-anticipated debut of Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday. And boy did he not disappoint. 14 strikeouts and only 2 earned runs over 7 innings on Tuesday en route to his first major league victory. As a result of this, Sunday’s start at the Indians became almost as hyped. He pitched well enough to get a victory on Sunday, striking out 8 and only allowing 1 earned run. But there does appear to be a human being under there, as he walked 5 and only went 5 1/3 innings in that start.
  • Not to be outdone, the Marlins called up top prospect Mike Stanton to make his debut on Tuesday as well. In the 5 games he has played since being called up, he has hit .368 with 4 runs batted in and 2 stolen bases. The strikeouts will remain a bit of a concern for him, but let’s remember that the kid is still just 20 years old, and probably likely to see at least a bit of growing pains.
  • On Friday, the Indians called up their top prospect C Carlos Santana. He is hitting .273, but slugging .636 after a homerun and a double in Saturday’s game. He faced off against Strasburg in his start on Sunday, and was the only player in the Indians’ starting lineup to not strikeout against the phenom. Pretty good start so far.
  • Lost in all these top prospects making their debuts was the fact that on Monday, Bryce Harper’s rights officially became the property of the Washington Nationals. I did find it interesting that the Nationals have announced already that he will be moved to the outfield immediately upon his signing. Looking at the Nationals’ minor league system, this is probably the fastest way for him to get to the Majors, and the Nats also have a solid prospect (Derek Norris) already at the catcher position who is more likely to make it to the Majors behind the plated before Harper would. Either way, Harper could very well end up making it to the Majors in two to three seasons at most, and is very likely to be no older than 20 when he does so. Lots of paydays in his future.

Links are a bit light this week, as I’ve been pretty busy. I am looking for some input from the readers, as I am starting to look into which prospects I should review in the offseason. My only rules really for this for the next offseason is that I want to preview a prospect from each team again. So if you have someone you think is going to be a top-10 prospect in an organization that you’d like to see a scouting report for, leave a comment and let me know.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #30 and #29
Wednesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #28 and #27
Thursday: The Original Draft Series – Team #26 and #25
Friday:  Trade Retrospective – Rickey Henderson to the Yankees

Team Preview – Pittsburgh Pirates


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Ryan Doumit SP 1 Zach Duke
1B Jeff Clement SP 2 Ross Ohlendorf
2B Akinori Iwamura SP 3 Paul Maholm
3B Andy LaRoche SP 4 Charlie Morton
SS Ronny Cedeno SP 5 Kevin Hart
LF Lastings Milledge Bullpen
CF Andrew McCutchen CL Octavio Dotel
RF Garrett Jones RP Evan Meek
Bench RP Joel Hanrahan
IF Bobby Crosby RP Brendan Donnelly
OF Ryan Church RP D.J. Carrasco

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
RP Octavio Dotel Free Agency RP Matt Capps Non-Tender
IF Bobby Crosby Free Agency RP Jesse Chavez Trade (TAM)
2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (TAM)

Top Prospects: Pedro Alvarez (3B), Tony Sanchez (C), Jose Tabata (OF), Chase D’Arnaud (SS)

2009 Review

The Pirates finished the 2009 season with a 62-99 record, last in the NL Central division. Overall, their offense was not very good, scoring only 636 runs. There were a few bright spots though. Most notably was rookie CF Andrew McCutchen, who posted a .286 average with 12 HR and 22 SB. Second-half call up Garrett Jones stormed in, hitting .293 with 21 HR in only 82 games. The pitching staff was led by the performances of Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92 ERA) and Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA)

The main stories in Pittsburgh’s season involved players who were dealt away. They moved popular CF Nate McLouth in early June for a package of 3 players. This move was widely panned as another cost-saving measure by the ownership of the Pirates, but the players they got in return (Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke) look like they could all contribute at the Major League level soon. They also moved OF Nyjer Morgan at the end of June to the Nationals, and received back closer Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge. They did well with this trade, getting two major league level players in return for Morgan. They also moved 1B Adam LaRoche, 2B Freddy Sanchez, SP Ian Snell, and SS Jack Wilson prior to the trade deadline. They got some solid prospects in return, with SP Tim Alderson and C/1B Jeff Clement probably being the best of them.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Pirates are full force into their rebuilding efforts. They will look for improvement from CF Andrew McCutchen in his second season, and the further development of the pitching staff as a whole. They are also hopeful that they will be able to get a full season from C Ryan Doumit and OFs Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones. Their offseason was spent finding undervalued players. Infielder Bobby Crosby will be looking to prove that he can still play at the Major League level, and should provide excellent depth on their bench, as he can play nearly all IF positions. Octavio Dotel is a high-risk, high-upside signing who could stabilize the back of the bullpen should he return to form.

The team is not built for 2010 to compete, but there is help coming in the form of Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Tim Alderson. Look for the Pirates to move some more veterans at the trade deadline this season if they feel that they can get a solid return for them.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

There’s not a lot to like here, but OF Andrew McCutchen is probably the best of the bunch. C Ryan Doumit could bounce back and post a top-10 catcher season this year as well. Beyond that, I am not sure I’d want to own anyone else on this team in a standard mixed league. Deeper league plays would probably be Ross Ohlendorf and Garrett Jones.

Prediction for 2010

The Pirates are in full rebuilding mode. And it shows. But there are some players here who will be in Pittsburgh when the rebuilding is complete. Watch for them in 2012.

70-92, 6th in the NL Central

Team Preview – Atlanta Braves


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Brian McCann SP 1 Tommy Hanson
1B Troy Glaus SP 2 Derek Lowe
2B Martin Prado SP 3 Tim Hudson
3B Chipper Jones SP 4 Jair Jurrjens
SS Yunel Escobar SP 5 Kenshin Kawakami
LF Melky Cabrera Bullpen
CF Nate McLouth CL Billy Wagner
RF Matt Diaz RP Takashi Saito
Bench RP Peter Moylan
OF Erik Hinske RP Kris Medlen
IF Omar Infante RP Eric O’Flaherty

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
LF Melky Cabrera Trade (NYY) SP Javier Vazquez Trade (NYY)
1B Troy Glaus Free Agency RP Rafael Soriano Trade (TAM)
RP Billy Wagner Free Agency RP Mike Gonzalez Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jason Heyward (OF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Arodys Vizcaino (P)

2009 Review

The Braves finished 3rd in the NL East last season, 7 games back of the NL Champion Phillies. The Braves waited to bring up top prospect Tommy Hanson until early June, and there has been discussion that they might have made the playoffs had they started the season with him in the rotation. The pitching rotation was led by Hanson (11-4, 2.89 ERA, 116 strikeouts in 127 innings) and offseason acquisition Javier Vazquez (15-10, 2.87, 238 strikeouts in 219 innings). The bullpen was finished by flame-throwing relievers, Mike Gonzalez (10 sv, 2.42 ERA) and Rafael Soriano (27 sv, 2.97 ERA).

The Braves helped to shore up their outfield midseason with the acquisition of CF Nate McLouth from the Pirates. They also surprised a lot of people by moving RF Jeff Francouer midseason to the division rival Mets for OF Ryan Church. McLouth provided a .257 batting average, 11 HR and 12 SB in the half-season with the Braves. The lineup was also led by veteran Brian McCann (.281, 21 HR), and late season acquisition Adam LaRoche (.325, 12 HR, 40 RBI in 57 games).

Team Outlook for 2010

The Braves were one of the few teams that entered the offseason with an abundance of starting pitching.  Having signed Tim Hudson to an extension, they now had 6 starters for 5 spots. As a result of this, they traded top starter Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for CF Melky Cabrera and prospects. The team still comes into 2010 with an excellent rotation from top to bottom. Free agent signees Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito will help to stabilize the back end of the bullpen following the losses of Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez to trade and free agency, respectively.

The biggest story out of Atlanta this spring has to be the emergence of top prospect RF Jason Heyward. Heyward, considered by many to be the top prospect in baseball right now, is threatening to force the Braves to keep him up and give him the starting RF job on Opening Day. He’s only played 3 games above AA level, but should be patrolling RF for the Braves for a long time. He posted a .323./.408/.555 split line across 3 levels last year. I wrote about him a bit more in depth earlier this year.

The key for the Braves is going to be on the offensive side. They will need improved production from 3B Chipper Jones, and a return to form by free agent signee Troy Glaus. I think that they can compete for the division or the Wild Card if they can get enough offense and run-support for these solid pitchers.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The top fantasy players on the Braves would have to include C Brian McCann and SP Tommy Hanson. As always, closers provide value as well, and I think that we could see a return to form from Billy Wagner. In deeper leagues, OF Jason Heyward, SP Tim Hudson, and SS Yunel Escobar can all provide differing levels of value.

Prediction for 2010

The Braves did well this offseason with some of their moves (Wagner, Glaus, Saito), but in my opinion, they simply are not likely to get the production that they will need out of their offense to help them compete with the class of the division. I think that if Heyward starts the season patrolling RF, it could potentially be enough to get them into the front of the Wild Card chase.

83-79, 3rd in the NL East

Fantasy Preview – Outfielders


A note about my rankings: I am assuming a standard scoring league (5×5) with the following categories:

R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, ERA, K, WHIP

Also, I have done a lot of statistical analysis in the past, but I’m not ready to start calculating my own projections statistically. So for me, a lot of this is based entirely on gut feel (which of these 2 players would I want), and looking at previous performance. All statistics are from the 2009 season.

My top 45 Outfielders for 2010

1. Ryan Braun – MIL
R HR RBI SB AVG
113 32 114 20 .320
What’s not to love about Ryan Braun the fantasy outfielder? He gives you elite runs and RBI, excellent power and batting average, and great speed. And he’s still young, and has the potential to improve even more. Seriously, Braun is a top-5 talent right now for fantasy, and would definitely be on the short list of players I would want to start a franchise around. I am extremely confident that Braun could give you all those stats again in 2010.


2. Matt Kemp – LAD
R HR RBI SB AVG
97 26 101 34 .297
As good as Braun has been, Kemp vaulted up into the same tier after his excellent 2009 season. Kemp is another top-10 type player who is going to provide you great value in all 5 categories. Honestly, I think that Kemp would actually put up better numbers than Braun if he didn’t play so many of his games in the spacious parks of the NL West. And he’s only going to be 25 to start the 2010 season. Another player on the short list to start a franchise around.


3. Matt Holliday – STL
R HR RBI SB AVG
94 24 109 14 .313
Holliday started off slow last season while in Oakland, but really turned it up once he arrived in St. Louis. I’m sure that having that Pujols guy as protection for you in the batting order doesn’t hurt, but I think that the Holliday we saw in the second half is legit. I can see him posting another season of 100 runs scored, 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, and probably 10 steals, all while hitting around .320 again. I don’t think that Holliday has any drop-off related to the gigantic contract that he signed in the offseason, but it may be something to watch for.


4. Carl Crawford – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
96 15 68 60 .305
I put Crawford here because I think there is still some upside for him. I think that he’s probably not going to hit more than the 15 HR he hit last season, but I think there’s actually the potential for his SB total to increase on the career high he set last season. An elite basestealer who I believe has the potential to approach the 75-80 range, and post solid-to-great values in some other categories, and there’s a lot to like here. Something to keep an eye on will be his contract situation, as there remains the possibility for him to be traded midseason if the Rays fall out of it and cannot get him signed to an extension.


5. Justin Upton – ARI
R HR RBI SB AVG
84 26 86 20 .300
Upton really started showing us the potential we had all been hearing about last season. Despite missing almost 3 weeks in August due to injury, he still posted a 20-20 season, and was on pace to score 100 runs and drive in 100 also. And he’s still only going to be 22 years old this season. I think he probably has a 30-30 season in him at some point, but for this season, I think he probably posts a 25-20 season. He’s missed time in each of the last 2 seasons related to strains, so I’d be at least aware of that possibility, but I wouldn’t put a lot of weight into it when you’re drafting him.


6. Torii Hunter – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
74 22 90 18 .299
This is probably where you ask how on earth I can have Hunter this high. He missed over 30 games last season, and still put up an excellent season. While I don’t think that he necessarily will hit quite as well as he did last year, I can see a 90 run, 27 HR, 100+ RBI, 20 SB season with a .290 average. I’m a sucker for players that contribute well to all 5 categories. Although that could be all fantasy players. The Angels will look to him to really lead this team, as Chone Figgins and Vlad Guerrero are both gone. This is Hunter’s team, and I think he’ll thrive in the role.


7. Jacoby Ellsbury – BOS
R HR RBI SB AVG
94 8 60 70 .301
Elite basestealer. Normally this is not going to be enough to get a ranking nearly this high. (Keep an eye out how much further Michael Bourn is to see that). But Ellsbury drives in runs at a reasonable rate, scores runs at a great rate, hits for a high average, and even provides some power. I think that if you draft Ellsbury, you’re pretty much able to ignore speed for quite a while after that. I think there’s actually some room for growth in his numbers this season with the changes that they have made to the lineup in Boston.


8. Jayson Werth – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
98 36 99 20 .268
I didn’t realize how good of a 2009 season that Werth had. He saw a spike in his fly-ball percentage (44% LY vs. 40% career), which probably lead to the increased homerun total. I don’t think he necessarily hits 36 again, but I think a 30-20 season is very reachable for Werth. The batting average is probably going to be in the same range, but with him likely to approach 100 runs and 100 RBI again, there’s quite a bit to like. I don’t necessarily prescribe to this idea, but he is also in a contract year. Something to file away in the back of  your mind.



I think this starts the next tier of outfielders. Werth was probably the last of the “elite” outfielders, in my opinion.

9. Grady Sizemore – CLE
R HR RBI SB AVG
73 18 64 13 .248
Sizemore probably hurt some of your fantasy teams pretty bad last year. Try to remember that the stats he didn’t give you last year have no affect on the quality he could potentially bring you this season. After offseason elbow and abdomen surgery, Sizemore has been cleared to practice at full-speed. I think that he sees a rebound to numbers close to his 2008 season, when he was a 30-30 outfielder. The slight risk I see based on the injuries of last year are what keep me from putting Sizemore back into the top 5 for outfielders.


10. Adam Lind – TOR
R HR RBI SB AVG
93 35 114 1 .305
Lind was one of the few bright spots on the 2009 Blue Jays, as he posted great numbers across the board. You’re not going to get speed from him, but the high average and excellent power more than make up for it. I think that Lind has a very good chance of repeating his 2009 season. He will be 26 this season, and I think that at some point in his career he’s going to top 40 HR in a season.


11. Bobby Abreu – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
96 15 103 30 .293
Abreu is one of those players who never really comes to mind when talk begins of the best fantasy players, and the only reason I can think that is lies with his homerun total. He’s not particularly likely to hit even as many as 20 homeruns anymore, but he’s a professional hitter. He’s going to hit right around .300, score right around 100 runs, drive in right around 100 RBI, and steal between 25 and 30 bases. A very solid outfielder.


12. Ben Zobrist – TAM
Also qualifies at 2B and SS
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 27 91 17 .297
I also wrote about Zobrist in my 2B rankings. I think I have him ahead of some of the outfielders due simply to the positional eligibility he provides. It seems unlikely to me that any team is going to be using him in the OF, but there’s always the chance.


13. Andre Ethier – LAD
R HR RBI SB AVG
92 31 106 6 .272
The Dodgers have some pretty good outfielders, don’t they? Ethier posted career highs in runs, HR and RBI last season. I think there’s actually room for improvement on the batting average front as well, which could very well leave you with an outfielder with 100 runs, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 5 SB and a .285 average. Which also seems amazing considering all the time spent in the parks of the NL West. Ethier seems like he will be a hot commodity on draft day, and could go earlier than anticipated. Those owners may well end up extremely happy with that decision.


14. Curtis Granderson – NYY
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 30 71 20 .249
I think that Granderson has an even bigger season now that he’s playing at new Yankee Stadium. The place played like a bandbox last season, and I think there’s a very good possibility that between that and being in the better Yankee lineup, Granderson scores 100 runs, hits 35 HR, and drives in 90 runs. Even the batting average seems like it has the potential to head up to the .265-.270 range.


15. Shin-Soo Choo – CLE
R HR RBI SB AVG
87 20 86 21 .300
Choo helped to make up for some of the dropoff in performance from Grady Sizemore last year, and I think he actually can build on this performance. I can see getting closer to 100 Runs and RBI this season, providing the Indians lineup performs even slightly better than last year. Something interesting about Choo: At some point before he turns 30, he’s required to do 2 years of military service since he is a citizen of South Korea. It has happened in the past that players have been excused from this, but it’s something to keep an eye on if you are playing in a keeper league.


16. Adam Dunn – WAS
Also Qualifies at 1B
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 38 105 0 .267
I wrote about Dunn in my 1B rankings. He’s a lock to give you 35+ HR and 100+ RBI. Even the run total could see improvement on last year. Quietly, a very solid player.


17. Jason Bay – NYM
R HR RBI SB AVG
103 36 119 13 .267
I don’t think that Jason Bay gives you these numbers again. If I did, he’d be in my top 10 outfielders. I think he sees a drop off in runs (probably to the 85-90 range), HR (probably toward 25-30), and RBI (probably to the 90-95 range). I just don’t have a whole lot of faith in the idea that Jason was not helped by playing at Fenway Park. Just remember that when you’re drafting him, you’re probably not going to get the same stats as last season.


18. Ichiro Suzuki – SEA
R HR RBI SB AVG
88 11 48 26 .352
Ichiro remains a hitting machine, posting a .352 average and 225 hits despite missing almost 20 games during the span of the season. I think that he approaches 100 runs again, and could reach 40 steals potentially. But I wouldn’t bank on more than 25 steals and 8 homers out of Ichiro. He seems to be able to hit homers when he desires to, but is just as happy getting singles and stealing the bases instead. Pairing him with a high-power, low average group of hitters could be a good strategy to use Ichiro with.



I’d say that at this point, nearly everyone in this next group could be moved around based on what you think you need at that point in your draft. They’re all very similar to me in terms of value, and it’s really your preference.

19. Carlos Beltran – NYM
R HR RBI SB AVG
50 10 48 11 .325
Beltran missed half of the season last year due to injury, and was having a very good season when he got hurt. If he’s 100% healthy, I could see him returning to his 100 run, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 20 steal form of previous years. I think that the ranking of him here is very aggressive considering that he seems unlikely to stay healthy for the full season. Definitely a lot of upside, and possibly a top-10 outfielder if he meets that upside.


20. Shane Victorino – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
102 10 62 25 .292
Victorino had a good well-rounded season, posting solid numbers in all categories. I think that Victorino is a lock to score 100 runs again in that powerful Phillies lineup. I also think he could steal over 30 bases again this season, and even possibly hit a few more homeruns as well.


21. Nelson Cruz – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
75 33 76 20 .260
I had no idea that Cruz had this good of a season last year. 2009 was really the first time Cruz got a full season at the Majors, and he provided a solid season as a result. My biggest concern with Cruz would be that he may have already peaked, as he turned 29 during the 2009 season. I think that he has some room for growth this year in batting average, and also possibly in runs as well.


22. Carlos Lee – HOU
R HR RBI SB AVG
65 26 102 5 .300
Lee isn’t going to steal double digit bases any more, and he seems really unlikely to score 100 runs again. He seems like an ideal candidate for the “Name not performance” award. He does have some good solid value still, as he’s practically a lock to hit 30 HR and 100 RBI with a .300 average. But I don’t think he’s a top-10 outfielder anymore, and it seems like there’s bound to be someone who will draft him like he is. I do think he does score closer to 80 runs this season as well, which still makes him a solid fantasy outfielder.


23. Michael Cuddyer – MIN
Also qualifies at 1B
R HR RBI SB AVG
93 32 94 6 .276
I originally had thought about Cuddyer as a candidate for my top-15 first basemen, but he ended up in the notes at the bottom instead. Cuddyer had a very good year last year, posting a career high in HR last season. I think he can repeat similar power (probably 30 or so), and conceivably repeat similar numbers in all other categories as well. I think he’s also has a pretty good chance at getting to 100 runs and 100 rbi again this season. Something to watch for: Cuddyer is going into the season as the starting RF, but has also played 1B and 3B previously for the Twins. If Nick Punto struggles really badly, I could see them conceivably moving Cuddyer if they feel that they can get better production with Jason Kubel in RF and Jim Thome as the DH.


24. Raul Ibanez – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
93 34 93 4 .272
Ibanez posted an amazing first half of the season, showing quite a bit of power (22 HR through June), but fell off a bit in the second half. That split concerns me, as he hit 12 in the second half. It is what keeps me from ranking him higher, as I think he’s probably more likely to hit 25 HR than 35. Ibanez will be 38 years old by the end of the 2010 season, and I just don’t think he can keep up this kind of performance for another season.


25. Adam Jones – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
83 19 70 10 .277
Adam Jones is already showing just how good the return was on the Erik Bedard trade. He only played in 119 games last season, and I think that if he can stay healthy for a full season, he will post a 25-15 season with 90+ runs and RBI. The key to this whole theory being that he can stay healthy. Just remember to include that in your thoughts when drafting Jones.


26. Jason Kubel – MIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
73 28 103 1 .300
Kubel posted what was easily his best season to this point. The power is legitimate, and I can see him being good for 100 RBI again. I’m not 100% sold that he can repeat his batting average, partially due to a jump in his BABIP (.327 in ’09 compared to .295 in ’08 and .305 in ’07). While it’s not a huge spike, it could very well be the difference between him posting a .295 average and a .275 average. I do think that the run total could potentially see a little bit of growth, but probably not a whole lot more than 80 or so. He’s another player who I think could be forgotten about on draft day.


27. Hunter Pence – HOU
R HR RBI SB AVG
76 25 72 14 .282
Pence looks to me like he’s got a pretty good chance of repeating his 2009 season, as he essentially repeated his 2008 season, but with a slightly higher batting average. Pence was able to cut down a bit on his strikeouts in 2009 (18% vs. 21% career), and also increased his walk rate as well. I think that the thing that really appears to be holding Pence back is his own team. He really doesn’t seem likely to improve his run or RBI totals with the lineup that the Astros have built. It just doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that good.


28. Manny Ramirez – LAD
R HR RBI SB AVG
62 19 63 0 .290
Ramirez really wore down at the end of last season (.255/.379/.459 in the 2nd half), and that concern keeps me from ranking him too highly. Obviously, there’s a huge amount of upside possible with Ramirez, as he could conceivably post a 100-30-100-.300 season. I just won’t be the one to pay for it, because I’m a little wary of that not happening.  But if you’ve gotten some players with low risk, he could be worth it when he’s going to be drafted.


29. Andrew McCutchen – PIT
R HR RBI SB AVG
74 12 54 22 .286
McCutchen only played in 108 games last season, due to not being called up until the beginning of June. Once there, he cemented himself as the starting center fielder for the years to come in Pittsburgh. McCutchen could conceivably get to 100 runs, 20 homers, 80 rbi, and 30 steals if it all falls correctly for him. He’s a very good young player, and he’s only going to get better. He may see a little bit of an adjustment period with it being his sophomore season, but I think he eventually becomes a top-15 outfielder on a consistent basis.


30. Michael Bourn – HOU
R HR RBI SB AVG
97 3 35 61 .285
The speed is legitimate. Beyond that, it’s all a bit risky to me. He posted a career high batting average of .285 backed by a BABIP of .366. I think that there’s some chance of regression, but the .366 BABIP is not brutally out of line with his minor league numbers (.335 at AA, .353 at AAA). He’s not going to provide a lot of RBI or even more than the 3 HR he hit last season. But I think there’s still a chance he steals even more bases. Just try to temper your expectations on Bourn. The Astros’ lineup worries me a bit still, but as the leadoff hitter he should have the best chance to score of anyone on that team.


31. Nate McLouth – ATL
R HR RBI SB AVG
86 20 70 19 .256
I actually like McLouth a lot for this season. Providing that you can get him at the right point in your draft. He missed some time last season, and could see a return to a 20-20 season again. The batting average is a bit of a drag, and it doesn’t appear to be that far out of his expected range unfortunately. He posted similar per-game numbers with both teams last season, so I’m not inclined to believe that he’s going to post a much better season due to spending the full year in Atlanta.


32. Carlos Quentin – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
47 21 56 3 .236
Quentin is another player who is coming back from an injury, and missed quite a bit of time as a result. He also posted an extremely low BABIP last season (.221 vs .278 in 2008), which should lead him to an increase in batting average if he regresses closer to his norm. I think that there’s a lot of upside here as well, with the potential for a 100-30-100 season out of Quentin. But he’s missed time in both seasons with the White Sox due to injuries, and the concern around these leads me to rank him lower than his talent probably would justify. I would want the potential to be that much higher as a result.



From this point on, you’re really getting into need. For me, all the players remaining are all extremely similar in terms of the value they provide to a fantasy team. Just figure out where you are needing some stats, and go from there.

33. Carlos Gonzalez – COL
R HR RBI SB AVG
53 13 29 16 .284
Gonzalez appears to finally be showing the promise that made him the highlight of both the Dan Haren and Matt Holliday trades. Despite only playing in 89 games last year, he still posted excellent numbers. And he comes into Spring Training with what appears to be a very good chance to be an everyday player. In a full season, I think he can post 100 runs, 20 HR, 75 RBI, and 25 SB with a good average. The only real concern I have for Gonzalez is that the Rockies seem to have too many solid outfielders (Hawpe, Spilborghs, Fowler, Smith), and as a result could see a loss of some playing time potentially for Gonzalez. Something to monitor in Spring Training if you get him. But I love the upside, and think he’s going to be extremely popular this season.


34. Johnny Damon – DET
R HR RBI SB AVG
107 24 82 12 .282
I don’t believe. He’s not going back to the Yankees, and I don’t believe in the homeruns or the runs scored based on him not being there. Someone is probably going to get a decent value on him, as he’s still out there as of this writing. Once he signs,  I think that he could conceivably score about 85-90 runs, hit 15-20 HR, and steal 10+ bases. But I don’t think that there’s a lot of upside for him without playing in that Yankee juggernaut.


35. Nick Markakis – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
94 18 101 6 .293
Markakis is one of those players that I think ends up doing well on his name, as opposed to his actual numbers. I don’t see a full repeat of the numbers he posted last season, but I can see another 85 runs and 90 RBI season. The problem I keep running into is the power. Even with a spike of almost 8% in his fly ball rate, he hit even less homeruns. There’s still the potential for growth since he’s only going to be 26 during the 2010 season, but I’m not necessarily taking the risk. For me, the upside for Markakis appears to be what he did last season. Which is good, but not amazing. And for upside, I’d rather take some other players first.


36. Alex Rios – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
63 17 71 24 .247
He can’t be as bad as that batting average, right? I think he may rebound this season, but it really speaks to me that the Blue Jays were willing to give up on the talent for just salary relief. He has the potential to post a 25-25 season I think, but at this point the risk that he continues to be what he did in Chicago (.199/.229/.301) is what keeps me from drafting him like he could do that.


37. B.J. Upton – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
79 11 55 42 .241
The batting average is a concern, especially since his BABIP of .310 was actually fairly solid. I think he could very well hit .250 again. The steals are nice, but I’m not convinced that he could give you a 20-20 season again. I’m not really sold he will give you 40 steals again, but I think he’s got a better shot of that. Strikeouts remain a problem, as he had 152 last season against only 57 walks. If he can improve that ratio, he could see some improvement, but I’m not inclined to believe it will happen.


38. Josh Hamilton – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
43 10 54 8 .268
Hamilton is probably one of the higher-upside high risk players you could draft. If he’s back to 100% healthy (both mentally and physically), he could be an elite outfielder again. But this remains a player who has missed significant time in 2 of the last 3 seasons. And while I do have to remind myself that he is still developing, I’m averse to the risk in this case. I’ll let someone else take the chance on him. If he does perform to his potential, he could post an 85 run, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 15 steal season with a .280 average. But the odds of that seem really low to me.


39. Alfonso Soriano – CHC
R HR RBI SB AVG
64 20 55 9 .241
The Cubs would probably like a do-over on this contract. Soriano missed quite a bit of time last season due to injury, and will look to rebound in 2010. His batting average should improve, as he posted a BABIP about 20-25 points lower than his career norms. I think that he’s more likely to have a similar season to 2009, with probably about 80 RBI instead of 55, and a few more homeruns as well. But I think that his days as a top-10 outfielder are over, and I don’t think he steals more than 15 bases this season. At this point he’s just not quite the same player he once was.


40. Brad Hawpe – COL
R HR RBI SB AVG
82 23 86 1 .285
Hawpe is always knocked as a player who benefits from playing at Coors Field, but the dropoff between home and away does not seem that severe to me. (.297/.397/520 at home, .275/.372/.518 on the road). Something to watch about Hawpe would be whether or not the Rockies consider moving him mid-season. There was rumor that he may get moved during the offseason, but remains with the Rockies. I think they’d have to hold onto him unless they’re blown away by whatever is offered, as he remains a solid power hitter. I don’t think the upside to get to 100 runs or 100 RBI is there for Hawpe, but he’s still likely to provide solid production in 4 categories. Probably a fair 2nd outfielder or great 3rd outfielder for a fantasy team.


41. Franklin Gutierrez – SEA
R HR RBI SB AVG
85 18 70 16 .283
Gutierrez quietly had a very solid season last year. he’s not going to provide top-tier stats in any category, but he will provide you with value in all 5 categories. I think he has the potential to post a 20-20 season at some point in his career, but I’m not convinced it will be this season. But he should still give you about 15 HR and 15 steals to go with a solid batting average and run totals.


42. Denard Span – MIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
97 8 68 23 .311
Span finally got consistent playing time, and made great use of it. Span probably drops slightly in batting average this season, but we’re talking about him still being around .300, so it’s not really that much of a drop. He’s not likely to be a power hitter, probably providing no more than the 8 homeruns he had last season. But if you pair him with someone like Adam Lind or Adam Dunn, he’s going to be a great balance and give you solid production from a 3rd outfielder.


43. Juan Rivera – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
72 25 88 0 .287
Rivera was healthy for the most part in 2009, and his numbers really showed it. He cemented himself as a starter in the Angels’ outfield last year, and with the trade of Gary Matthews Jr., this is unlikely to change. I think he’s going to provide similar numbers again in 2010. Reasonable power, and some solid run-production. He’s what I would call a “bland” player, in that none of the stats that he provides really stand out. But you need players like this on your team just like you need the ones that provide elite values.


44. Juan Pierre – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
57 0 31 30 .308
Pierre has finally been freed from the bench in Los Angeles, and will be a starter in Chicago. I don’t think he’s going to give you 60-70 steals anymore, but I can see him getting into the 50′s potentially with the Sox. He could very well get back to around 85-90 runs as well. And you should know better than to expect even a single homerun. But he’s likely to give you a solid batting average to go with those other stats. I think he adjusts to the American League just fine, as he has quite a track record of performance at this point in his career.


45. Nolan Reimold – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
49 15 45 8 .279
As you get down into the 40s for outfielders, you’re mostly looking for upside. Or maybe that’s just me. Reimold only played a little more than half the season, and I think he could pretty easily post a 20-15 season with a full season. The upside is 85 runs, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 15 steals. Something to watch for is how the playing time sorts itself out. Reimold is probably going to lose a little playing time to Felix Pie, but could also see some time at 1B or DH as well. I can’t imagine that the Orioles think that Pie is the better long-term play, but I don’t imagine that they’ll ask me either. Not that they should.



From here, you’re really going to be looking for specific skills or stats. You’ve got lots of steals out there if you need them: Rajai Davis (41), Nyjer Morgan (42), Dexter Fowler (27). But for me, I tried to avoid players who didn’t provide at least reasonable value in 3-4 categories. There’s still some upside plays, with Vladimir Guerrero and Jay Bruce both having the potential to be special this season.

The one thing that I did notice is this: More than any other position, nearly every outfielder provides value with stolen bases. This seems unusual to me, and it’s something to keep in mind when you’re drafting. There are a lot of positions that don’t provide speed particularly well, but outfield is not one of them.

Tomorrow I will continue on with my fantasy previews, with the first half of my starting pitcher rankings.

Prospect Review – Jason Heyward – OF – ATL


Baseball Reference.Com Profile
Fangraphs Profile

The Basics
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#14 overall) of the 2007 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves
Age: 20

Statistics

2008 – Rome (Sally League – Braves Single A) – 120 games

  • .323/.388/.483
  • 11 homeruns, 52 RBI, 15 stolen bases
  • 49 walks, 74 strikeouts

2008 – Myrtle Beach (Carolina League – Braves High-A) – 7 games

  • .182/.240/.273
  • 4 RBI
  • 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

2008 Totals (2 levels – 127 games)

  • .316/.381/.473
  • 11 homeruns, 56 RBI, 15 stolen bases
  • 51 walks, 78 strikeouts

2009 – Myrtle Beach (Carolina League – Braves High-A) – 49 games

  • .296/.369/.519
  • 10 homeruns, 31 RBI, 4 stolen bases
  • 21 walks, 30 strikeouts

2009 – Mississippi (Southern League – Braves AA) – 47 games

  • .352/.446/.611
  • 7 homeruns, 30 RBI, 5 stolen bases
  • 28 walks, 19 strikeouts

2009 – Gwinnett (International League – Braves AAA) – 3 games

  • .364/.462/.364
  • 2 RBI, 1 stolen base
  • 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

2009 Totals (3 levels – 99 games)

  • .323/.408/.555
  • 17 homeruns, 63 RBI, 10 stolen bases
  • 51 walks, 51 strikeouts

Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (ATL – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (ATL – 2009) – 5 star
Project Prospect – #1 (Hitters – 9/2009), #1 (Corner Outfielders – 11/2009)
John Sickels – #1 (ATL – 2010) – A

Analysis

Heyward burst onto the scene following his excellent 2008 season, flashing all 5 tools against decent competition while only 18 years old. He played in only 99 games during the 2009 season due to a hip flexor injury, but made excellent use of the games he did play in. He missed the majority of the month of June, but was promoted to AA Mississippi a couple of weeks after his return. He didn’t appear to miss a beat, posting a .352/.446/.611 line while there, and earning himself a late season promotion to AAA Gwinnett.

Heyward has shown against tough competition that he can hit for average, power, and can run as well. He profiles as a corner outfielder long term, but I imagine that he could potentially center field in a pinch as well. Heyward’s minor league progression reminds me a lot of the path that Justin Upton took to the Majors. Upton dominated in the Southern League at age 19, and started the following season with AAA Tucson. Upton also got a call-up midseason 2008, and has never looked back. I do believe that Heyward, when he is called up, could possibly have similar struggles to Upton’s first full season. Heyward’s talent will eventually lead him to long-term success in the Majors.

Heyward has pretty much become the consensus top position player prospect in the Minors, and is almost always in the top 2 of nearly every prospect list that includes both position players and pitchers. The Braves have done well to not rush him along too much, and should definitely see the fruits of their labor very shortly. And they’re really going to enjoy it. I can see Heyward developing with age into a potential 30-30 player on a yearly basis, and posting a high average along with it.

Outlook

Heyward will most likely start the 2010 season at AAA Gwinnett, but if he does well in the early part of the season, could see a mid-season call-up. Even though he will start the season as a 20 year old in AAA, I fully expect him to dominate as he has at previous levels, and get that call by the All-Star Break. The Braves have 2 of their outfield spots filled with CF Nate McLouth and LF Melky Cabrera, and a bit of a hole in RF. Matt Diaz will be called upon most likely to fill that spot until Heyward is ready. Once he is, I expect him to stay there a long time.

Projection for 2010

AAA: .330/.410/.500, 10 homeruns, 10 stolen bases (about 60 games)
Majors: .285/.370/.470, 6 homeruns, 10 stolen bases (about 80 games)

Expected ETA

2010. No later than mid-July.

Tomorrow’s Prospect up for Review: Starlin Castro (SS) of the Chicago Cubs