The 2009 season is winding down and we’re currently being treated to some expanded-roster action in September. As such, let’s take a look at a few hitters that could make 2010 opening day rosters for their respective teams. The players that make up this quartet do not have the highest ceilings – and probably won’t challenge for the 2010 Rookie of the Year award – but even complementary players have value in Major League Baseball (despite what fantasy baseball teaches us).
Chris Pettit: Even with Bobby Abreu and Vlad Guerrero headed for free agency, the Angels’ outfield is still pretty crowded but Pettit could sneak his way in to some significant playing time next year. The 25-year-old outfielder stumbled in 2008 but he regained his footing this season with a solid triple-A campaign in which he hit .321/.383/.482 with 30 doubles and 18 steals in 20 attempts. He doesn’t have outstanding skills, but he makes the most of what he has… which is the ability to hit .300 with gap power and 10-15 steals. Defensively, he can also play all three outfield positions.
Robinzon Diaz: Incumbent backstop Ryan Doumit had a disappointing offensive season in 2009 and the glove has never been a strong suit. Unable to build off of his breakout 2008, Doumit is currently hitting just .233/.270/.405 in 215 at-bats. Jason Jaramillo filled in for a while but he faded after the first three months of the year. As a result, Diaz might just be the best offensive bet entering 2010. Yes, the former Jays prospect had a down year in triple-A in 2009, but he’s shown a consistent ability to hit (an empty) .300. Scouts have always said he’s a talented player but his desire has been questioned, so he’s the type of player that needs to be constantly challenged. At the age of 26, and with parts of three years of triple-A experience, now is as good a time as any to see if he can realize his potential. Diaz would be a cheap option to help keep the spot warm for 2009 draft pick Tony Sanchez, who moved up to high-A at the end of the minor league season.
Kyle Phillips: Another catcher with a Jays connection, Phillips is the younger brother of former big-league catcher Jason Phillips (who also played with the Jays). Toronto signed the younger Phillips as a minor league free agent a few years ago and he’s shown solid ability with the bat, although he’s a questionable defender behind the dish. Regardless, the 25-year-old catcher could handle the job well enough as a back-up and he also has the ability to play first base and third base, so he could be an excellent third-catcher option. The left-handed hitter consistently creamed right-handed pitching in the minors. With both of the Jays’ big-league catchers (Rod Barajas, Raul Chavez) likely to file for free agency, Phillips is the best (ie. most MLB ready) in-house option to see time in 2010… at least until (and if) prospect J.P. Arencibia is ready.
Ian Desmond: The 2009-10 free agent pool of shortstops is pretty thin, with one-year wonder (and 34-year-old) Marco Scutaro at the top of the heap. The Nationals have Cristian Guzman locked up through 2010 at $8 million so he could end up being attractive to a team desperate for help at shortstop. If the club can move him (and they should even if they get little in return), the team could then turn the job over to Desmond, who has been the club’s shortstop-of-the-future for about, what, five years now? The 24-year-old infielder is coming off of his best offensive season. He hit .306 in double-A before moving up to triple-A where he managed a line of .354/.428/.461 in 178 at-bats. Desmond also improved his plate rates at the higher level.