Thursday, February 28, 2008

Position Players Projections

Peter Piper picked a pickle...

And that's enough alliteration for one day.

Now to wrap up the minor league roster projections, it's onto the position players. Unlike the catchers, where there are likely to be two at each level, it is very hard to divide players up by position at each level. A lot of times the lines are blurred and players are tried at different positions. This especially happens at Toledo and Erie, where the mid-summer 23 man roster limits necessitate playing multiple positions. Yes, the old temporarily inactive list is used frequently to keep guys playing, but the point is that it is difficult to assign roles, such as starting firstbaseman or fourth outfielder to minor league position players. Like the pitchers, I'll start by listing the players in Major League camp who I project to miss the roster. I was going to start out by prioritizing based on prospect status, but it turns out most of the Tigers top prospects are in camp.

Mike Hessman: He must clear waivers, but I think he will. Underrated at third base because of his build. Tall players are often typecast as thirdbasemen even if they are great defensive 3B. This happened to my brother in high school, and in my opinion cost him a shot to play in college. Hessman will probably be the starting thirdbaseman at Toledo with plenty of opportunities to play corner outfield and first to boost his value as a bench player.

Brent Clevlen: The guy absolutely impressed in his time up with the big club in 2006. That has proven to be a mirage and a well-timed hot streak. Could Clevlen be the guy crowded out of a Toledo outfield spot?

Freddy Guzman: Dan Fox at Baseball Propsectus ranked Guzman as one of the best defensive outfielders in minor league baseball last season (Gorkys Hernandez was the best). This doesn't excuse the fact that he can't hit. While he is okay against left-handed pitching, using him as a defensive replacement for Curtis Granderson or Jacque Jones doesn't really make any sense. I have a feeling he'll be traded, but this projection will assume he is in Toledo.

Mike Hollimon: Billfer wants him to be the utility infielder. While he would be a better player than Ramon Santiago this year, I can't help but wonder if a full season at Toledo playing all over the place while getting regular at bats may be better suited towards being a possible replacement for our aging middle infield.

Jeff Larish: Will be the primary firstbaseman at Toledo this year. Like Hollimon, he could pull a Raburn and force his way onto the roster if he puts up a great season this year. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Larish gets some time in the outfield, again to improve his bench value.

Scott Sizemore: Came on strong in the second half last season at West Michigan, but the stats won't show it because of that horendous hitters park. I've got Sizemore penciled in at 2B in Lakeland, but I would imagine a strong spring would push him up to Erie.

Danny Worth: Just making it to Erie a couple months after being drafted was impressive, but succeeding there (Sample Size Alert!) should give him the nod as the AA shortstop this season. If he can show he was for real last season, he has the potential of making the Tigers think twice about picking up Edgar Renteria's option.

Matt Joyce: There are some who are completely sold on him being a future Tigers corner outfielder, but I'm not convinced he can hit enough. That said, I have a feeling the Tigers will find room for him in Toledo despite all of the veterans there.

Timo Perez: It's refreshing to see the Tigers realize that his late season run was likely a fluke. That kind of performance will get you $10 million per year from Randy Smith. He'll be in Toledo this year, and could get a shot at the roster if he proves he can actually hit now.

Wilkin Ramirez: All tools, no performance to date. I've got him staying in the outfield in Erie.

Clete Thomas: Took a nice step forward last season, but the crowded outfield in Toledo could force him to start out repeating in Erie. If that's the case, he'll get a midseason promotion if he warrants it.

I'll divide this portion into two parts as well. There are a lot of players I will cover tomorrow while trying to fill out these rosters. I want everybody to bear in mind that these are simply educated guesses. I'm not down in Spring Training, and I'm not communicating with the front office trying to get information. Tommorow, I'll finish up the position players and possibly update everything to include the Fernando Rodney and Francisco Cruceta situations.

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