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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CF Prospect Recap

Back in February I wrote about eight center field prospects to keep your eye on this season. While not all of them were promoted to the majors like I predicted, 2009 gave us an even better idea of what to expect from them in the future. With just a few games left in the season, here's a look at how they fared in 2008:

Colby Rasmus, StL: .254/.306/.414 16 HR, 3 SB
Rasmus made the club out of Spring Training and began the year as a spot starter and defensive replacement. As the summer warmed up so did Rasmus. His hitting numbers may not be the best of the bunch but his defensive numbers are off the charts. I repeat what I predicted earlier this year: Rasmus will make many All-Star appearances and will be a superstar.

Andrew McCutchen, Pit: .283/.355/.468 12 HR, 17 SB
Once Nate McLouth was surprisingly traded to Atlanta in June, there were no excuses for holding McCutchen back. He began with a splash by getting two hits and stealing a base in his first MLB game. He also displayed more power than I expected. He should be the front runner for Rookie of the Year.
My opinion of him has actually improved. I believed he would be a slightly above average major leaguer with some good seasons but now I believe he'll be a good major leaguer and one of the few Pirates in recent memory actually deserving of his All-Star roster spot.

Dexter Fowler, Col: .267/.366/.408 4 HR, 27 SB
After a cup of coffee in September of '08, Fowler was the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter pretty much from the get go. His defense has been a little shaky but that could be due to playing in the largest park in baseball; I'm not sure exactly how to interpret his defensive stats. He did, however, display his blazing speed and a keen batting eye for a young player. Colorado loves this kid and with reason. He's good.

Drew Stubbs, Cin: .264/.306/.441 8 HR, 9 SB
I wasn't surprised Stubbs didn't start the year in Cincinnati but more surprised that he wasn't called up before August. While Dusty Baker and Willy Taveras tag-teamed to eliminate the Reds from postseason contention (Baker continuously batted Taveras leadoff despite a .275 OBP and 14 XBH in 400+ plate appearances!), Stubbs was in AAA (although he wasn't exactly lighting the place on fire). Next year will be a big year for him as he will be expected to be a key contributor for a team that believes it will compete. Although I'm not sure he's a leadoff hitter, Dusty Baker says otherwise.

Cameron Maybin, Fla: .236/.313/.395 4 HR, 1 SB
Expected to be the complimentary piece on this team next to superstar Hanley Ramirez, Maybin struggled mightily out of the gate. His contact rates where extremely low causing his batting average to plummet as well. Even worse, he only had 1 home run before he got sent back down. Recalled in September, Maybin appears to have righted the ship a bit. It is still too early to give up on him if he struggles again next year, but he's now had enough chances that Florida expects to see some major improvements. If he ever learns to walk he could be Jack Cust with speed, but right now I'm just confused as to what he'll turn into. He's still only 22 so there's time.

Jordan Schafer, Atl: .204/.313/.287 2 HR, 2 SB
A home run in his first major league at bat on opening day had Braves fans excited about their center fielder of the future. The team knew he couldn't hit left-handers and even batted him eighth in an effort to give him the best chance to succeed. It didn't work. Even his defense was subpar. Many wondered if there was an injury he was trying to hide so as not to lose his spot on the roster. After he was demoted in late May, he admitted to having a bum wrist that bothered him since the first week of the season. He's been on the DL pretty much ever since. I expect major platoon splits with Schafer along the lines of Curtis Granderson's with a few 20-20 seasons. I'm still a believer!

Austin Jackson, NYY: .300/.354/.405 4 HR, 24 SB (AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barr)
The one guy on this list that didn't get to make his major league debut. He still hasn't taken the giant leap forward scouts had anticipated years ago. He's still very fast but lacks much power. At best he turns into Brett Butler (and that's pretty good). At worst Brett Gardner. It's most likely he ends up somewhere in between like Jose Cardenal.

Michael Saunders, Sea: .227/.267/.273 0 HR, 4 SB
With Seattle moonlighting as a contender, the team did not want to risk calling up a prospect who was an unknown commodity. When Endy Chavez got injured the door was open and Saunders has been up since. He hasn't done anything to excite management but you can expect him to start 2010 in the outfield. I don't foresee him becoming an All-Star but whose to say if it all comes together he won't turn into Jim Edmonds? The tools are there it's just a question of whether or not he puts them together.
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