Every Thursday throughout the regular season, we’re going to take a look at the some of the players in the minor leagues who are on the cusp of helping out Major League Baseball teams (and by association – Fantasy Baseball managers) in 2009. This week it is the all-hitter edition.
Matt LaPorta: We wrote about LaPorta last week, but the big man keeps knockin’ on the door to the big leagues. He’s at .368/.436/.706 in 68 at-bats for Triple-A and has hit .405 in his last 10 games. In a positive sign for a slugger, LaPorta’s strikeout rate is on the decline for the third straight season, despite facing better competition. Both Ryan Garko and Travis Hafner have been hitting well, which has helped keep LaPorta in the minors, but the latter player just hit the disabled list. Keep your eyes on the transaction wire.
Matt Wieters: The top hitting prospect in the minors missed a handful of Triple-A games after suffering a minor injury on April 17. He’s back now, but he’s hitting just .238 (5-for-21) since his return. On the season, the catcher has a triple-slash line of .267/.382/.378 in 45 at-bats. With Baltimore’s No. 1 catcher, veteran Gregg Zaun, hitting .111/.238/.185 in 54 at-bats, there isn’t much between Wieters and the beginning of his MLB career.
Adrian Cardenas: Oakland needs some serious offensive help, or the club is going to fade off into the AL West sunset. The team is last in the American League in batting average (.233), runs scored (75), doubles (24) and home runs (with a paltry eight, or one less than MLB leader Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres). Offensively, Cardenas would be a step up at second base, third base, or shortstop, where the trio of Mark Ellis, Eric Chavez and Orlando Cabrera have combined for a .201 average and zero homers. Cardenas, 21, is currently hitting .355/.410/.579 with 14 extra base hits, as well as a healthy dose of walks.
Wilkin Ramirez: Ramirez, 23, could offer Detroit an offensive boost, but where should the club play him? The outfield is full right now – although everyone but Josh Anderson is scuffling. Carlos Guillen is clogging up the designated hitter’s spot, but he too is struggling. As a result, Ramirez will have to bide his time in Triple-A and wait for an injury. The converted third baseman is currently hitting .313/.371/.438 with just one homer and six stolen bases. He missed the 20-20 club by one home runs in Double-A last season, and also hit more than .300.
Bryan Petersen: If the Florida Marlins organization decides center-fielder Cameron Maybin needs a little more seasoning in the minors (.190 avg, 38.1 K%), it might look like the club would have to rely on the likes of Brett Carroll, Jai Miller, or Alejandro De Aza. But take a look down into Double-A where a young prospect by the name of Bryan Petersen is currently playing. He’s more of a corner outfielder, but he has the speed to play center – at least in the short term. Things really started to click for Petersen, 23, in the second half of last season and that success has carried over into the 2009 season. The left-handed hitter is currently batting .288/.355/.424 with five stolen bases in 66 at-bats. The biggest negatives in his game right now are the strikeouts (22.7 K%) and the average against southpaws (.188). Petersen, though, has 20-20 potential.
Josh Whitesell: Poor Mr. Whitesell. He just cannot catch a break. The left-handed first baseman just turned 27 and he has a total of seven big league at-bats. Whitesell hit .328/.425/.568 in Triple-A last year and is tearing the cover off the ball again at the same level in ’09 with a line of .364/.475/.545 in 66 at-bats. He hits for average, power, drives in runs and walks more than his fair share. What does a guy have to do to get a break? Ah, but the D-backs have 36-year-old Tony Clark filling the pinch hitter/back-up first baseman role. After hitting .206/.338/.333 for Arizona last year, Clark is now following up that very successful campaign with a line of .160/.250/.400 and 13 strikeouts in 25 at-bats.