Every Thursday throughout the season, Minor Impacts takes a look at some of the hottest minor league players that could have impacts at the Major League Level in the near future. With the end to the minor league season less than a month away, many of the players we’re looking at now will be making their impacts in early-to-mid 2010. Some of the players we’ve educated you on before their promotions include: Vince Mazzaro, Andrew McCutchen, Gordon Beckham, Alex Avila, Brian Matusz, Marc Rzepczynski, Jake Fox, Nolan Reimold, Daniel Bard, Bud Norris, and Mat Latos.
Wes Hodges: A former second round pick out of Georgia Tech, Hodges is knocking on the door for a shot at the third base job in Cleveland. He is currently hitting .264/.308/.416 with 20 doubles and five homers in 231 at-bats. Hodges, 24, has struggled with his batting average a bit this season, but he should be able to maintain a .270-.290 average in the Majors with average to slight-below average power for the hot corner. He performs equally well against right-handed and left-handed pitchers in terms of batting average and on-base percentage, although his slugging percentage is almost .100 points higher against right-handers.
Mike Stanton: Stanton’s double-A numbers are not overly exciting but he’s just 19 years of age. The powerful, young outfielder hit .294/.390/.578 with 12 homers in 180 at-bats prior to his promotion from high-A ball to double-A. At the senior level, Stanton is hitting .239/.317/.468 with 12 homers in 222 at-bats. Last season, he hit 39 homers as a 19 year old. His power is off the charts, but he needs to trim his strikeout rates, which currently sit at 33.3 K%. He may also be pressing to drive in runs with a .259 batting average with the bases empty and a .183 average with runners in scoring position. Stanton will no doubt return to double-A in 2010 but, if everything clicks, he could be in Florida by mid-season.
Pedro Alvarez: Alvarez got off to a slow start in his first pro season, but he’s picked things up since being promoted to double-A. The third baseman is hitting almost .100 points higher despite playing at a more difficult level. He may be the type of player that needs to be challenged. Alvarez, 22, is currently hitting .327/.395/.558 with eight homers in 156 double-A at-bats. His numbers have been helped by an extremely high BABIP at .413 and his walk rate (10.9 BB%) is down three percent from high-A ball. His strikeout rate is almost identical at 28.2 K%. Alvarez does have a healthy line-drive rate at 20.7%. The power is legit, but at this point he’s probably a .250-.260 hitter in the Majors.
Adam Moore: The trade of Jeff Clement to Pittsburgh opens the door to the full-time catching gig once Seattle tires of Kenji Johjima behind the dish. Rob Johnson has an early lead on the job thanks to his current presence in the Majors and solid defensive work, but Moore is the superior hitter. The right-handed hitter opened the season in double-A but moved up to triple-A after just 27 games. At triple-A, Moore is currently hitting .298/.347/.419 with six homers in 265 at-bats. His walk rate is at its lowest point in three seasons at 6.7 BB%, but so is his strikeout rate at 15.1 K%. The 25-year-old has the potential to hit 15-20 homers in the Majors and he performs well against southpaws (.329/.372/.466 in ’09).
Allen Craig: The former eighth-round pick out of the University of California (2006) has been spending more time in the outfield and could see significant playing time for the Cardinals in 2010 if Matt Holliday does not resign with the club. Craig can also play first base and third base, so his versatility adds to his value. The 25-year-old is currently hitting .312/.368/.534 with 21 homers in 382 at-bats at triple-A. He’s hit 20 homers-plus and batted more than .300 in three straight seasons. Craig has a walk rate of 7.5 BB% and a strikeout rate of 19.9 K%. He’s an underrated prospect with a real chance to help St. Louis in 2010.
Angel Salome: Milwaukee recently purged a number of under-performing veterans and catcher Jason Kendall could be on the way out of town after the season ends. Salome is a step down defensive, especially when you consider Kendall’s leadership and game-calling skills, but the prospect has a much better bat. The right-handed hitter is a legitimate .280-.300 hitter with excellent contact skills. He’ll probably never hit for power in the Majors with his line drive swing and 5’7” stature. Durability could also be an issue with the young catcher. This season in triple-A, Salome is hitting .289/.338/.418. He has a walk rate of 7.3 BB% and a strikeout rate of 19.3 K%.