Sunday, April 5, 2009

Who Says Spring Training is Meaningless?

For minor leaguers, Spring Training is a time of hope. It's a time to show management what you can do. It's a time that potentially separates the prospects from the projects. Some players gain favor while others do not. Players like Josh Whitesell, Sam Fuld, and Brian Horwitz have already had a cup of coffee in the Majors. But coffee can be addictive, and one cup is usually never enough. Hopefully, these guys become java junkies, in the metaphorical sense. Let's take a look at how the aspiring and established JMLs did this Spring.

The Good
Josh Whitesell: 52 ABs, .308/.429/.519, 3 HRs, 2 doubles, 12 RBIs, 12 runs scored, 11 BBs
An excellent Spring, but he's facing fierce competition at first base. Chad Tracy, Tony Clark, and Connor Jackson will all hurt his playing time. Still, Whitesell may have the most upside. Clark is old, Tracy is injury prone, and Jackson seems like he's still trying to get comfortable in his own skin.

Sam Fuld: 28 ABs, .250/.364/.500, 2 HRs, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 9 runs scored, 4 BBs, 1 SB
Play It Again, Sam. A fine Woody Allen film. You just wish the Cubs would let Sam play. How long before they give up on Fukudome? A platoon with Reed Johnson and Fuld would be nice. I look at Fuld as a Brett Gardner with more power and a little less speed.

Jake Wald: 10 ABs, .400/.462/.700, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 1 BB
You never know. Renteria is getting up there in age. He's not the shortstop he once was. Wald hasn't exactly put up numbers that jump off the page in the Minors, but a good Spring has to count for something, right?

Brian Horwitz: 6 ABs, .333/.556/.333, 2 runs scored, 3 BBs
You'd like to see the young man get more ABs, but I guess he'll take what he can get. Horwitz was hot for awhile when he was called up last season. Stay hot, kid!

Brad Ausmus: 49 ABs, .286/.386/.408, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 6 BBs, 1 SB
What got into him?

Ian Kinsler: 77 ABs, .299/.329/.403, 1 HR, 5 doubles, 11 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 5 BBs, 2 SBs
So far, he hasn't been able to play more than 130 games in a season. If he can stay healthy, you may be looking at the best offensive second baseman in the game.

Mike Koplove: 10 1/3 innings, 1.74 ERA, 1 save, 7 BBs, 10 Ks
Remember Mike Koplove? You should. He was outstanding for a few years with the Diamondbacks. Looks like he can be outstanding once again.

Craig Breslow: 11 2/3 innings, 3.09 ERA, 2 saves, 6 BBs, 14 Ks
Impressive, but after last year would you expect anything less?

John Grabow: 7 innings, 3.86 ERA, 8 hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks
Good showing in the WBC to go along with a solid Spring.

The Bad
Scott Schoeneweis: 9 innings, 11.00 ERA, 5 walks, 4 Ks
Ugly, but he just came off one of his better seasons. You never can tell with these LOOGYs.

Jason Marquis: 25 innings, 10.08 ERA, 10 BBs, 22 Ks
A rough Spring to be sure, but his last outing was a quality start. And 22 strikeouts in 25 innings is uncharacteristically dominant for Marquis.

Jason Hirsh: 10 1/3 innings, 12.19 ERA, 8 BBs, 4 Ks
Looks like the Hirsh-Marquis Rockies rotation will have to be put on hold, for the moment. Hirsh was sent down to AAA to work out some kinks. At 6'8" Hirsh has the frame, but does he have the stuff to go with it? Cutting down on the free passes should be a priority for the young man.

Gabe Kapler: 60 ABs, .150/.215/.217, 1 HR, 1 double, 6 RBIs, 8 runs scored, 5 BBs, 1 SB
Guess this means the AL East is tougher than the NL Central. But like Schoeneweis, Kapler is also coming off one of his better seasons.

The Mediocre
Ryan Braun: 25 ABs, .280/.345/.440, 1 HR, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 5 runs scored, 2 BBs
Braun has been battling some nagging injuries since September of '08. But when he's healthy, he's dangerous. Expectations are high for the Brewers' left fielder. Will he meet them or exceed them?

Kevin Youkilis: 30 ABs, .233/.343/.333, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 runs scored, 5 BBs
Are you worried? I'm not.

Scott Feldman: 20 innings, 5.40 ERA, 6 BBs, 14 Ks
Feldman will be moved to the bullpen for the start of the season, and maybe with his sidearm delivery that's the right move. Hey, it worked in '06.

Aaron Poreda: 13 1/3 innings, 6.08 ERA, 7 BBs, 7 Ks
His fastball is the real deal. At this point, I don't believe he's ready to be a starter. But he could be effective as a middle reliever. Poreda has a bright future ahead of him.

The Non-Factors
Adam Greenberg: 0 for 1
Just 1 AB, huh? Story of your life.

Adam Stern: 0 for 3, 1 SB
What's that Elvis song? It's now or never.


William said...

Koplove's walk rate seems high. Is that a norm for him?

Excellent post.

Josh Borenstein said...

I just checked. Looks like it is. Career-wise, 103 free passes in 254 innings. Certainly didn't hurt his WHIP in '02 or '03, though. It looks like when he was going good he only walked batters about 1/3 of the time.

Joel Kirstein said...

Hi, is this list of 2009 Jewish Major Leaguers correct?

Brad Ausmus - Dodgers - C
Kevin Youkilis - Red Sox - 1B
Josh Whitesell - Diamondbacks - 1B
Ian Kinsler - Rangers - 2B
Ryan Braun - Brewers - OF
Gabe Kapler - Rays - OF
Scott Feldman - Rangers - P
Craig Breslow - Twins - P
Scott Schoeneweis - D'backs - P
Jason Marquis - Rockies - P
John Grabow - Pirates - RP

Bob Melvin - Diamondbacks - MGR
Reuben Amaro, Jr. - Phillies - GM
Steve Stone - White Sox - Broadcaster

Josh Borenstein said...

Very nearly correct. You left out Theo Epstein (GM of the Red Sox) and Larry Rothschild (the Cubs' pitching coach).

And technically Whitesell didn't make the opening day 40-man roster. But he'll be going up North at some point.

Jason Hirsh may also get called up during the season.

In addition, you'll want to keep an eye out for Aaron Poreda, Sam Fuld, and Brian Horwitz.

Josh Borenstein said...

Forgot Mike Koplove. Wouldn't be surprised if he logged in a few innings this year.