The Dugout Report

Hope Rules Spring Training by llwesman
March 6, 2010, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Mets Prospect Ike Davis is causing a Buzz in New York’s camp

The 2010 baseball season is nearly upon as and not a moment too soon. Spring training is in full swing and games have begun. With deep rosters filled with young prospects and embattled veterans contenders and pretenders alike are evaluating important position battles that will make or break their seasons. This is the part of the year that can determine not only the team’s early season, but the development of a  young player and perhaps the end of an aging veteran’s career. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of the fascinating competitions going on throughout the league.

Mets First Baseman – Daniel Murphy vs Ike Davis

The Carlos Delgado era is over in New York. Daniel Murphy hit just .266 in a nightmarish 2009 campaign. He’s back again, but is no lock for the job. He hit for limited power (.427 SLG) and was not strong on defense (10 errors). Davis – the team’s 2008 top draft pick – brings a power bat and is coming off of a very strong 2009 that saw him hit .298 with 20 HR’s between high A and AA. He hasn’t played a game above AA yet, but is the first baseman of the future. Is the future now? Ike has started off his audition very strong, hitting a grand slam on Thursday. He is just 22, and I wouldn’t expect him to make the club out of spring training. A team like the Mets is likely to hold him at AAA for at least the first couple of months, both to delay his arbitration and to give Murphy, Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis a chance to seize the job. That’s no murder’s row – expect Davis to come up in May if the team is struggling offensively. He profiles as a .270-.280 hitter with potential for 30 HR type power. Realistic expectations would have him down as a strong doubles hitter with 25 HR a season – perhaps in the mold of a James Loney with slightly better power.

Yankees Fifth Starter – Joba Chamberlain vs Phil Hughes

No more Chien-Ming Wang means one of these two hyped prospects needs to make the transition to full time starter. The Joba rules are over, and his stuff is superior when at his peak. However, Chamberlain is one of the most inconsistent starters in the game. He averaged just over 5 innings per start and led the majors in HBP. He has also been unable to translate his overpowering fastball into consistent velocity through 7-8 innings. Hughes, who has perhaps a lower ceiling but also a higher floor, was especially good in the setup role last season. However he also has more of a starter’s makeup. His biggest issue has been his health. Expect Joba to win the job initially with Hughes as a fallback option. This is likely Joba’s last chance to start before he is simply forced into the setup/closer in waiting role that many saw when he burst on the scene in 2007.

Braves Rightfielder – Matt Diaz vs Jason Heyward

Heyward, the game’s top prospect, is already the far bigger name. However Diaz had a strong 2009 with limited at bats. Atlanta might have an inclination to build his value then trade him after adding another year to Heyward’s arbitration clock. The reports out of Atlanta however, are gushing on Heyward. After all the hype it will be hard for them to chance a slow start by Diaz. They faced a similar situation last season with Tommy Hanson, the club chose to delay his callup and paid for it dearly with terrible performance from the likes of Kris Medlen, Jo Jo Reyes and Kenshin Kawakami. Hanson was outstanding and a full season from him could have put Atlanta in the postseason. I have Heyward winning the job out of spring training and Diaz perhaps being moved to a needy team, perhaps a club who sustains an injury or has limited faith in their own prospect/veteran outfield mix – Detroit anyone? Diaz could also fall into the Seth Smith sort of platoon role.

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1 Comment so far
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I’m pretty sure Diaz will play left if Heyward makes the team. With only 4 outfielders Major League ready I just can’t see them parting ways with Diaz because he got beat out in the right field battle. I’m pretty sure they like Diaz in left with Melky spelling all three outfield positions. Bobby Cox has always been a manager to get his guys rest and the reserves playing time.

Comment by DK

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