MLB
August 26, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Position Battles – Rising Prospects

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Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

Domonic Brown:  Since peaking on Baseball America’s and many other prospect lists he stopped hitting home runs and stealing bases.  He managed only four steals in ten tries while at Triple-A.  His 50% ground ball rate in Philadelphia is consistent with recent minor league performance.  He has a .343 OBP thanks to a strong 0.69 BB/K ratio.  He is performing like a solid regular but not a fantasy difference maker.

Matt LaPorta:  Manny Acta went on the record stating that LaPorta will “get plenty of at-bats.”  He had a good offensive year in Columbus but success in the International League does little to boost the stock of a 27-year-old.  He had a 0.54 BB/K in Triple-A but only a 0.26 with Cleveland last year.  His .157 major league ISO also needs to rise if he hopes to land a starting job.  September is very important for his career outlook.

Ryan Lavarnway:  After smoking eighteen home runs in 61 games at Pawtucket in 2011 he hit eight in 83 games this year.  On the positive side, his OBP stayed in the same range and he cut his strikeout rate to 16.9%.  His lower major league BB/K and ISO are typical of young hitters in an adjustment phase.  He will play with David Ortiz ailing, but even considering recent departures he is not guaranteed a regular spot in 2013.

Johnny Giavotella:  He assumed the second base job on August 18 when a thumb injury knocked Chris Getz out of action.  He hit .323/.404/.472 in Triple-A but his production in Kansas City is lacking.  He made 187 plate appearances in 2011 but does not seem improved from that opportunity.  He has not attempted a steal in 27 games either. The Royals seem to have soured on him, for no apparent reason, and they have other options behind him in the minors, so his days as a Royal may be numbered.

Trayvon Robinson:  Seattle’s center field job is his; he started sixteen of twenty August games.  His production with the Mariners is roughly equal to that in the minors, 93 to 91 being an insignificant difference in wRC+.  His 26 home runs in 2011 were an illusion courtesy of hitter-friendly Albuquerque, he is more of a base stealer than a power threat.  Given a full year, twenty to twenty-five SB is reasonable.  The switch-hitter has a 48 wRC+ against southpaws so it is easy to identify his weak side.  He also swings at more than 50% of pitches.  Few hitters survive with an approach that aggressive.

Donovan Solano:  He is pleasantly surprising in his first major league exposure.  He has a 0.57 BB/K and more steals with Miami than he had in the minors.  His 26.6% line drive rate is siding a .352 BABIP.  In the Yahoo format he already qualifies at 2B, SS, 3B, and OF.

Brett Jackson:  In limited action (68 PA) his batted ball profile fits that of a power hitter.  His fly ball rate is 40% and a quarter of them have found the bleachers.  Contact issues are the elephant in the room.  His strikeout rate is 45.6%, contact rate is 68.6%, and swinging strike rate is 13.0%.  It has been a problem ever since he reached Triple-A.

Yasmani Grandal:  Nick Hundley is on the DL with a bruised knee and will probably share time when he returns.  In 108 PA Grandal is hitting .271/.343/.500, good for a 135 wRC+.  He is dramatically more effective away from San Diego and just 2-19 since coming off his own injury.  With an overall line this strong he is the favorite to own the position next year.

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