“Knocking On The Door”part 5- American League West
Depth is a critical component of every successful baseball organization. Having players available in the Minor Leagues to cover poor performance or injury is part of the lifeblood of each club.
Many of the players listed in the series may play only a game or two. They may fill in for a week at a certain position or make one start on the mound or have one performance from the pen. Their contributions are critical. The teams that are best prepared for adversity can weather the storm and proceed without much trepidation.
Today I take a look at the American League West. Some teams have greater organizational depth than others. Graduations last season and the use of prospects in a flurry of major trades this year have had an impact upon every division.
A J Reed-1B-age 22- He may need more development time and may not make an impact this year, but Reed is a left-handed hitter with some power and an ability to drive in runs. Based upon what I’ve seen in the Arizona Fall League and elsewhere, Reed is getting close to the point of graduation. He can become very relevant.
Matt Duffy-1B/3B-age 27-Older and more advanced than Reed, Duffy may be able to make the club as a right-handed hitter off the bench.
Colin Moran-3B-age 23- I admit I’ve never been a big fan of the former Marlin. He has been invited to Spring Training and has a chance to play at some point this year.
Tony Kemp-2B-age 24- Kemp is 5-foot-6, not unlike the man blocking his path, Jose Altuve. Kemp is not Altuve. He is a marginal defender, a line-drive hitter and he can accept a walk. He has speed and can get on base. He may need more development.
Tyler Heineman-C-age 24- It would be a long-shot for him to get his chance, but he may be in line as a backup behind Jason Castro and Max Stassi. He’s a switch-hitter.
Joe Sciafani-2B/3B-age 25- The non-rostered Sciafani is a switch-hitter with an invitation to Spring Training. He provides organizational depth.
Nolan Fontana-2B/3B/SS-age 24- The switch-hitting Fontana is on the 40-man roster and will be able to get a look in Spring Training.
Andrew Aplin-OF-age 24- Aplin hits left-handed and has played at Triple-A. He may be among those that are recalled at some point if an outfield bat is needed in season.
Juan Minaya-RHRP-age 25- Minaya has seven years of experience but has not made the big league club. He will likely be on call if needed for the pen.
Chris Devanski-RHSP-age 25- Devanski has been invited to Spring Training and could see big league action if he’s needed at some point.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
note: RHRP Deolis Guerra is a Rule 5 selection from Pittsburgh. He has used his rookie eligibility. He is no longer a prospect.
Ji-Man Choi-!B-age 24- He came from Baltimore as a Rule 5 selection. He’ll get every chance to stick with the club as switch-hitting 1B and pinch-hitting depth.
Jett Bandy-C-age 25- He is a right-handed hitter with a 25-man roster spot. However, Carlos Perez and Geovany Soto are ahead of him on the depth chart.
Alex Yarborough-2B-age 24- He’s a switch-hitting infielder who is not currently on the 40-man roster. However, circumstances could dictate a shot for him at some point.
Kaleb Cowart-3B/SS.LF-age 23- He’s certainly still young enough to get it going, but Cowart has been very underwhelming so far. I see more of that continuing. He hit better at Triple-A last year so there is still hope for the former first rounder.
Rafael Ortega-OF-age 24- A left-handed hitter, Ortega has a spot on the 40-man and will be in Spring Training. He came over from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nick Buss-OF-age 29- Buss hits left-handed and has been invited to Spring-Training.
He has been with the Dodgers, the A’s and the Dbacks. It’s time got for him to rev up the engine.
Nate Smith-LHSP-age 24- Smith offers a left-handed arm to the organization. He could show up at some point in the season. Not on the 40-man, he has not been invited to Spring Training as of this writing.
Kyle McGowan-RHSP-age 24- See Smith. They are in the same situation and came from the same 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Matt Olson-1B-age 21- A left-handed hitter with power, Olson may make his debut this year. I’ve seen what he can do with the bat, and it can be impressive. He has to gain more pitch recognition and add some patience, but he has a bright future.
Sean Manaea-LHSP-age 23- The big lefty has a chance to be a fixture in the team’s rotation. I see him as a late season call-up with a complete repertoire. He has had health issues and has to prove he can stay healthy and repeat his delivery .
Renato Nunez-3B/1B-age 21- Like Manaea, I got to see lots of Nunez in this past Arizona Fall League. He has a powerful bat and can really add some much needed pop to the club from the right side of the plate. I like his chances later this year.
Joey Wendle-2B-age 25-Wendle came from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss deal. He’s a scrappy player who needs a chance. He can hit. Line drives and gap doubles in his big home park should be in his future. He’s a left-handed hitter, and that helps.
Chad Pinder-2B/SS- age 23- He’s a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. I see him more of a 2017 grad, but it’s very possible the infield situation with the A’s could lead to them needing him this year. He’s a right-handed hitter. I saw him in the AFL.
Rangel Ravelo-1B-age 23- He’s on the 40-man roster and was originally in the White Sox organization. He provides depth at first base as a right-handed hitter.
J B Wendelken-RHRP-age 26- He could offer organizational bullpen depth. He came over in a trade with the White Sox.
D J Peterson-3B/1B-age 24- He may need another full year of development. The Peterson I saw again in the Arizona Fall League did not impress. He’s a former first rounder and much was expected. There is time for him to find a louder bat.
Boog Powell-OF-age 23- No relationship to THE Boog Powell, this Powell is a left-handed hitting CF with a nice swing, a complete game, some real speed and a chance to help off the bench as a 4th or 5th outfielder during the season. Plays good defense.
Mayckol Guaipe-RHRP-age 25- He will serve as right-handed pitching depth. He’s on the 40-man roster and will been seen during Spring Training.
Jonathan Aro-RHRP-age 25- Like Guaipe, Aro can use his spot on the 40-man to show the club his stuff during Spring Training. He came over from the Red Sox.
Steven Lerud-C-age 31- He was a free agent signing from the Nationals. Because he hits left-handed, he could have some value if a need arises at the catching position.
Joey Gallo-3B/OF-age 22- This will be a tough call for the club. There is no doubt about his light tower power. There is great doubt about his ability to play defense. Still very young, I think he will benefit by an entire year of Minor League play. But fans will clamor for his booming bat. The left-handed hitter can be a game-changer. If he arrives at all, I think it will be late in the season. This debate could be intense.
Nomar Mazara-OF-age 20- Another bright light in the Rangers system, Mazara will benefit by another year in the Minors. However, I think we’ll see him in September. He can be a middle-of-the-order impact bat. He could claim LF for years to come.
Lewis Brinson-CF-age 21- I actually saw Brinson come to life and improve dramatically in the Arizona Fall League. He reminds me of OF Chris Young with a more consistent bat. He plays excellent defense, has speed, and has pop in his bat. I think he’s close.
Tony Barnette-RHRP-age 32- Barnette was with the Diamondbacks organization, went to Japan and has now returned. I think he has a shot to make it to the Rangers pen.
Drew Robinson-INF-age 23- A left-handed hitter, Robinson can serve in a utility role at some point in the season because of his versatility. He’s a non-roster invitee.
Patrick Kivlehan-3B/OF-age 26- Kivlehan may be called upon at some time during the season as a a right-handed hitter with some versatility. He came over from Seattle.
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That’s it. I’m done.