The First Cups of Coffee

Nine players made their 2010 debut yesterday — seven appearing in the big leagues for the first time — on the first day of roster expansion. By WPA standards, four positively contributed to their team, and five negatively contributed in their debuts. Here is my take on the positive contributors; I will write up the negative contributors in the afternoon today.

Brandon Allen, 1B/LF, Age 24, Arizona Diamondbacks.

Debut: +.229 WPA. The only of today’s eight players to have a previous big league career, Allen made his 2010 debut in left field. He had a bloop single to left in the third, and then a bloop fly-out to left in the fifth. In the seventh inning, Allen pulled a hanging slider to right field 419 feet for a grand slam. In the field, Allen made a nice catch against the fence in the fourth, one of four put-outs on the day.

2010 Minor League Season: .261/.405/.528 (.407 wOBA) in 469 PA at Triple-A.

Thoughts on Future: I have to say, more impressive than the grand slam yesterday was Allen’s catch of a slicing Chase Headley fly ball. This makes it all the more likely his 2011 season will be in the Major Leagues, as he’s going to offer the Diamondbacks solid enough play at first base or in left field. At the plate, he’s more than ready. Allen posted a 17.7 BB% this year, which more than makes up for his problems with contact. You can expect both his ISO and BB% to come down next year, but both should still be above league average. Allen is going to have a nice, long big league career; the White Sox must be kicking themselves for trading away Paul Konerko‘s successor at first base.

Darren Ford, CF, Age 24, San Francisco Giants.

Debut: +.214 WPA. Pinch ran for Mike Fontenot at first base in the 8th. Reached second on Tim Lincecum sacrifice. Bolted for third base when an Ubaldo Jimenez pitch hit the dirt, drawing a late throw from Miguel Olivo that went to left field. Ford scored the winning run on the play.

2010 Minor League Season: .251/.315/.365 (.313 wOBA) in 516 PA at Double-A. 37-52 SB/ATT.

Thoughts on Future: With a fairly hot Rockies team three games back, and a great pitcher’s duel brewing between Jimenez and Lincecum, Ford played the role of Dave Roberts in a huge moment. Despite the dissimilarities in their games, Roberts’s late-starting big league career, including 5 seasons with more than 400 plate appearances, would be a decent-enough outcome for Ford. Ford is already an all-world defender in center field, certainly a good baserunner, but his offense lags behind. Ford cut his strikeout rate to a career low this year, but it was met with a career-low walk rate, which had previously been his lone strength as a hitter. Most likely, he’s a fifth outfielder, but given his defensive abilities, his offense doesn’t need to be quite as good as most prospects.

Danny Espinosa, SS/2B, Age 23, Washington Nationals.

Debut: +.004 WPA. Espinosa was credited for a double in his first big league plate appearance, but it was mostly because the hometown official scorer didn’t want to give Donnie Murphy an error. To his credit,¬†Espinosa turned a one-base error into a two-base error with good speed. Espinosa grounded out to second in the 8th, and didn’t record a play in the field.

2010 Minor League Season: .268/.337/.464 over two levels. Hit .259/.332/.461 (.356 wOBA) in 434 PA at Double-A, hit .295/.349/.463 (.345 wOBA) in 108 PA at Triple-A. 25-36 SB/ATT.

Thoughts on Future: I really like Danny Espinosa, because he’s the rare prospect that could stick at shortstop and post good patience and power numbers. But then again, it sure seems like the Nationals are going to stick him at second base, and his patience wasn’t good (7.5 BB%) this season. Both of these alter his prospect rating, and definitely knock him down a notch. Espinosa is also a player that’s going to have to win over an old-school manager, as it’s hard to forecast him ever hitting above .275 with strikeout rates in the mid-twenties.

Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Age 22, Milwaukee Brewers.

Debut: +.001 WPA. One inning, three batters faced, 11 pitches thrown, 7 for strikes. Was 95-98 mph with 7 fastballs, and threw 4 curveballs at 78-79 mph. Allowed groundball single to Miguel Cairo, induced double play grounder from Paul Janish, and groundball out from Ryan Hanigan.

2010 Minor League Season: 2.23 ERA in 24 appearances spread between the Midwest (5 G), Florida State (8 G) and Southern (11 G) Leagues. Ratios between three levels: 5.0 H/9, 0.00 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 12.0 K/9.

Thoughts on Future: We know that his next suspension will be the end of his professional baseball career, so that is noteworthy. With that said, Jeffress was by all accounts a good citizen during his 2010 season, and he made real strides on the diamond. Once a pure arm strength guy, Jeffress flashed a really good curveball yesterday that drew hilariously weak contact from Janish and Hanigan. With that pitch reaching true plus status, and his over-the-top arm angle still producing big velocity, Jeffress profiles as a Major League closer. His blend of strikeouts and groundballs should lead to some real success in that role.

This afternoon: Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda, Brian Bogusevic, Desmond Jennings, Freddie Freeman.



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RahulN
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RahulN
5 years 10 months ago

You are inadvertently leaving out one of the better prospects to debut yesterday – Freddie Freeman

JR
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JR
5 years 10 months ago

How about Carlos Carrasco?

Jmag043
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Jmag043
5 years 10 months ago

Do you feel Jeffress has any chance of starting again? He would have much more value at the front end of the rotation. I think if he has a great september, the brewers will have him start at triple A to begin 2011 and then maybe a june call up to start.

JCA
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JCA
5 years 10 months ago

Everything the Nats are saying through the press is that they are willing to make the Espinosa shift to 2d part of the long term plan for the middle infield. They love Desmond’s range. Suppose that is just talk. How much of a value hit does Espinosa take if he is the primary 2d baseman / occasional SS like th eChiSox did with Ramirez? Are the Nats better off moving one of Desmond or Espinosa in trade next year as a cost controlled SS and finding a 2d baseman elsewhere (say, Lombardozzi from the system or an FA) or just making this move permanent?

JCA
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JCA
5 years 10 months ago

meant to say “How much of a value hit does Espinosa take if he is the primary 2d baseman / occasional SS for one year like the ChiSox did with Ramirez?”

Jordan
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Jordan
5 years 10 months ago

Espy didn’t officially record a play in the field, but he did flip a potential DP ball very quickly at 2nd, with a very close (personally I think the ump got the call wrong) play at 1st.

James M.
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James M.
5 years 10 months ago

It’s worth pointing out that, up until a couple months ago, Brandon Allen had never played the outfield. He had only 33 games in LF in the minors, so he’s still learning the position. And that spectacular catch came on his very first chance in the majors.

The shift to the outfield was necessary because it looks like the D’backs want to keep Adam LaRouche at 1B. Not only is he one of their best hitters, but he’s made the entire infield better with his defense. Meanwhile LF has been a black hole offensively ever since Luis Gonzalez left.

Paul Thomas
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Paul Thomas
5 years 10 months ago

Jeffress is not even subject for being tested for the substance for which he was suspended in the minor leagues (marijuana) now that he’s a member of the Players’ Union.

Even if it was true (it isn’t) that he would actually get a lifetime ban from baseball for being caught again, he CAN’T be caught again under the major league drug policy. I suppose the team could always catch him and impose their own discipline, but that won’t result in a life ban.

blackout
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blackout
5 years 10 months ago

I wouldn’t anoint Jeffress a future closer just yet. he’s got the raw stuff but I was watching that game and his delivery is a little sloppy for me. I could see him losing his mechanics from time to time. Braddock doesn’t throw nearly as hard but his delivery and command are more reliable and he stares down opposing hitters like they just ran over his dog. Should be interesting to see how both develop while Axford holds down the job.

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