Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MLB up-and-comers

Less than 100 games to go in the 2012 MLB Season, and already we see some of the Future stars already getting their careers rolling in '12...In this Blog entry we will highlight some 1st and 2nd year players that are here to stay, and producing at a level that should already have their fanbases excited...All 9 positions, let's do this...

1B...I would have thought that Royals 1B Eric Hosmer (22) would be our guy for this position, but his MLB start is slower than I anticipated...Readers know that I have written before about Kevin Durant and the fact that he was born to score the basketball...Well Hosmer was born to hit the baseball...HUGE future for this young man IMO...Hosmer finished 3rd in Rookie Of The Year voting last year on the strength of a .293, 19 HR's, 72 RBI's, but those #'s have all dipped significantly in his 2nd go-around with MLB Pitchers...Average down to a paltry .218, 8 HR's with 32 RBI's...2012 struggles have him not quite making our cut...

Our 1B will be Freddie Freeman (22)...Like Hosmer, Freeman had a better 2011 (Runner-up in NL R.O.Y. voting)...#'s are slightly down (.250 avg...8 HR's...37 RBI's) but his play at 1B (zero Errors) gives Freeman the nod as our 1B on our list...Freddie's 2011 also started slow, but he picked it up as the season progressed and we will look for that again in 2012...Freeman has a pretty good eye at the plate and should become a consistent line-drive hitter
2B...I would have thought that Mariners 2B Dustin Ackley (24) would be our guy, but Batting Average...On Base %...Slugging %...& OPS all way down from his rookie 2011 campaign...Ackley K's once per game as well which is significantly too high for him

Astros 2B Jose Altuve (22) was a definite candidate to be our up-and-coming 2B... .317 BA, 4 HR's, 22 RBI's...Only Jeter/Bourn/Melky have more hits in all of MLB than Altuve...12 SB's, Caught Stealing 4 times...For a franchise struggling as mightily as Houston, Altuve has been wonderful...Only his 8 errors kept him off the list as our starting 2B...

Dirtbag aka Jason Kipnis

Cleveland has our guy...2B Jason Kipnis (25) is hitting .284 with 11 HR's and 41 RBI's...Kipnis is fantastic on the basepath...17 SB's and caught just once...Just 3 errors...Kipnis has very good bat-speed, works counts well too...Nicknamed "Dirtbag" because this guy hustles and has a dirty uniform on the regular...Kipnis grew up as an OF, and was a highly regarded football player too (WR) so his transformation to everyday 2B has been impressive (good potential on D)

SS...One day perhaps we will see Flash Gordon's son Dee Gordon (24) as our SS of the future...His speed is off the charts (21 SB's already, vs 6 Caught Stealing) but already at 13 Errors, and a horrid .286 On Base % keeps him on our bench

Our "next" guy at SS will be Zack Cozart (26) from the Reds...Batting Average at .264 and his 7 HR's put him 2nd amongst all Rookies...As far as MLB SS go Cozart is Top 6 in HR's, Top 3 in Runs (39) plus has 17 Doubles...Cozart had Tommy John surgery in Aug 2011 which makes his play in 2012 even more impressive...His 1st MLB HR was off University of Mississippi teammate Lance Lynn (Spoiler Alert...We will see Lynn mentioned again later!)...Cozart will hit at the MLB level, has an excellent arm, and is a very good base-runner

Brett & sister Danielle Lawrie
3B...This is a position that is in good hands going forward...Brett Lawrie (22) certainly gets Honorable Mention...Brett has a clear passion, and I would say great understanding of the game...HIGH baseball IQ to go with his passion...As with most 22 year old's there is certainly maturing that needs to be done (already immature incidents with Ump's, media, etc)...Already 9 errors, but in fairness he is learning the 3B position at the MLB level, and there have been flashes of greatness on D at 3B for Lawrie (this young man has a cannon instead of a right arm)...If your sister looks like Brett's then you can get an Honorable Mention on any list I am doing!

Ann Lux

Our 3B of the future is going to be Will Middlebrooks (23)...What impresses me about this guy is that his play has been so good that the BoSox are actively shopping long-time fan fave Kevin Youkilis...I very much expect Youk to be traded as Middlebrooks has shown he is a legit everyday MLB 3B...This SS-turned-3B was graded as the BoSox #1 prospect entering this season by Baseball America...If Lawrie gets props for a hot sister, then surely a hot Fiance gets a mention...Guys, here is Ann Lux...You are welcome...Back to baseball, Middlebrooks killed the 1st month of the season at AAA, and since his MLB promotion he has hit .289 with 6 HR's and 24 RBI's...Like most Rookies he certainly needs to Walk more and Strikeout less, but this guy's bat is legit

Definite Honorable Mention here to Mike Moustakas (23) in KC...As far as 3B go in all of MLB Moustakas is Top 10 HR's (10)...Top 10 RBI's (33)...Top 10 Hits (62)...Top 5 Batting Average (.278)...Top 5 OPS (.825)...Again, those ranks are amongst all MLB 3B...I love Moustakas, but Middlebrooks got the nod as our Starting 3B because he is making Youk expendable which will surely add an asset(s) to the BoSox through a trade, and of course Ann Lux :)

Heck, 3B even has Trevor Plouffe (26) in Minny getting it done and showing he is up-and-coming too...Plouffe plays 1B/2B/SS/LF/RF, but gets most of his action at 3B...BA of .243...14 HR's...24 RBI's...Almost 1:1 for BB/K

C...In Colorado Wilin Rosario (23) has 9 HR's which is more than any Rookie in MLB (Top 8 for all C's)...9 runners of the 30 that have tried to steal have been thrown out by Rosario and he Catches for the worst Pitching Staff I have ever seen, but the Power #'s have been good for this Rookie...The days of Coors Field being a launching pad are back and Rosario can and will take advantage of that...Rosario's Catching skills (Defense) are improving

Jesus Montero (22) has a big future ahead of him, but A) he plays DH way more often than Catcher...and B) his #'s are nowhere near what they should be/will be (.266 with 8 HR's and 28 RBI's)

OF...I had to have Bryce Harper (19...WHAT, 19?!?! yep) on this list because I am so damn impressed with him, plus he is a Rookie...His "Household name" status made me wonder if I should have him on this list, but again the young man is a Rookie so he had to be included...This guy is awesome...Accomplishments are already through the roof for this 19 year old stud...High School Player of The Year / All World Team / Babe Ruth Award / Golden Spikes / #1 pick / SWAC Player of The Year...wow...1 month into the 2012 season the Nationals had to put Jeff Zimmerman on the DL which created a roster spot that Bryce Harper took...This guy took the ball and is running with it...How about Top 5 for all MLB Rookies in HR, Batting Average, Walks, Triples, Runs, OBP, Slugging %, and OPS...Again we say wow

My fave player on this list (one day it will be Lawrie) is Mike Trout (20) of the Angels...1st month of the Season Trout was swimming in the Minors...Then the Angels decided that Bobby Abreu was done and they called-up Trout...Despite missing 1 month of MLB action this guy is Top 5 for Rookies in RBI's, Hits, Doubles, Triples, Runs, Walks, and Slugging %...Already impressive, but there's more...#1 amongst Rookies for Batting Average (impressive .323) and #1 for OPS...Also #1 for Stolen Bases, and this one isn't even close...Trout has 19 Steals, while the next highest Rookie has 5!...I love that Trout is already seeing over 4 Pitches Per At-Bat (impressive)

Trout's Anaheim teammate Mark Trumbo (26) is on our list too...Trumbomb finished 2nd in AL Rookie of The Year voting in 2011 (Rays P Jeremy Hellickson won, so of any Position Player Trumbo was #1)...2012 Trumbo is Top 10 in all MLB for HR's (16), Top 20 for RBI's (42) and in the AL only Paul Konerko and Josh Hamilton have better Batting Average (Trumbo is at .319)

In New York, Kirk Nieuwenhuis (24) has provided a spark for the surprisingly competitive Mets...Kirk is a legit CF...As far as Rookies go Kirk is Top 5 for Hits, Average, HR's, OBP, RBI's, Walks, SB's...Nieuwenhuis is #1 for Rookies with K's, and Top 5 in all of MLB for K's so clearly that is an area of his game that requires dramatic improvement

P...Stephen Strasburg has been a stud-in-the-making for a while now so he did not make this list...

6'6" big man Lance Lynn (25) has burst on the scene for the Cardinals...10-2 record is one of the absolute best in MLB...2.42 ERA with an impressive WHIP of 1.09...Lynn has just 15 MLB Starts, 13 this season, but he is establishing himself as a top-of-the-Rotation stud...Lynn ranks in the Top 10 in the NL for WAR, ERA, Wins, Win %, Hits per 9 Innings, K's per 9 Innings...Lynn started to get more and more work in last seasons Playoffs, and he is off-and-running in 2012...Fastball well in the 90's with an effective Change-up, improving CurveBall, and very good Sinker

Wade Miley (25) Arizona...8-3, 2.30 ERA with 1.06 WHIP...The D-Backs are struggling mightily in 2012, but Miley has been extremely good...Top 5 in NL for WAR, Wins, ERA, HR per 9 Innings...Miley has a good 2-seam, and 4-seam Fastball and throws an effective Change-up to Righties...His Out-Pitch is his Slider

Chris Sale is awesome
Chris Sale (23) has been a delight as a SP for the ChiSox this season...He is a huge reason why the White Sox lead the AL Central...8-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, while batters hitting a measly .197 vs the Lefty...Sale has a legit Fastball (mid 90's with late movement) with a good Slider...As a Starter he will have to develop his third Pitch even more (Change-up)...His delivery is very sneaky/deceptive which makes picking up the ball out of his hand very tricky for hitters

Wei-Lin Chen (26) Baltimore...Honorable Mention...Chen spent numerous years Pitching for the Chunichi Dragons so he does have Pro experience...His MLB debut season has been so-far, so-good...How about a 7-2 record with a 3.36 ERA and 1.29 WHIP...Chen is a major reason why the O's are in legit contention this season...Chen's accuracy plays in any Continent...Fastball in the low 90's with a very good Breaking Ball

In the Bullpen I love Aroldis Chapman, but he is already a well known and legit MLBer...Let's take a look at Ryan Cook (24...A's)...Cook has already appeared in 28 games, and check the #'s...In 30 Innings Pitched he has allowed just 2 runs and 9 hits...Over 1 K per Inning...An amazing WHIP of 0.84...wow...Cook throws a 2 and 4 seam Fastball (mid-high 90's) with a sweeping Slider and a sharp Sinker...Righties are eaten alive by his Fastball and Slider combo

Holla at your bwoy... craigballard77@myself.com