Saturday, October 16, 2010

2010 Positional Review: Third Base

There's an interesting mix at this position, one which has been weak for some time now in recent Jays history. The Jays have not developed a reasonably good 3B from their own system in almost 20 years (since the advent of Ed Sprague). none of these guys might be that guy either, but there's at least some interesting and comment worthy things going on.

1. Brad Emaus (25) - More and more I hear stuff from Jeff Blair that turns out not to be the case and which makes me skeptical of other stuff he reports that doesn't seem to make sense. One such item is that the Jays are not very high on Emaus. I find that pretty difficult to accept. If he were a butcher defensively, we'd be well aware of it by now (One can easily think of several current Jays minor leaguers for whom it's well known they need work with the glove) and he is obviously not a slouch at the plate.
Emaus struggled for a couple of very bad months in the first half of 2009, and in the rest of his career he's done nothing but find his way on base. A .380 OBP in Dunedin in 2008, and a combined .397 at two stops in 2010 both attest to his skills in that regard. He posted 31 walks against 18 strikeouts in AA before being promoted and he walked 50 more times in AAA. He's not a burner but he's an efficient base stealer (13 in 15 attempts in 2010), he's not a slugger but he's got reasonable power (seems likely to hit 32-40 doubles and 12-15 homers in the majors). He's also apparently a serviceable 2B as well as playing 3B (reports are scarce as to how good he is at one relative to the other).
At a bare minimum he's Jeff Keppinger with more power. Don't be surprised if he's one of those guys who comes in below the radar (like Casey McGehee) who pretty much forces his team to give him a role.

2. Kevin Ahrens (22) - All but written off by outside observers by mid-season, Ahrens revived his prospect status a bit in the second half. One must admit that the sample size in play here is very limited, but given the results, and the notable specific change in approach (the team decided to end his switch-hitting days) and his pedigree, I'm willing to believe in him at least one more off-season. He'll be playing again in Dunedin (after spending most of 2010 in Lansing) and, as I noted last week regarding his good friend Justin Jackson, this is actually just about the time a 22 year old drafted out of high school OUGHT to be playing his first full year in Hi-A ball. That said, he doesn't really have any more time to spare, he needs to put himself on the map in 2011 or his opportunities will be seriously limited.

3. Kellen Sweeney (19) - Sweeney (the younger brother of Oakland's Ryan) signed late after being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft and the results are such a small sample as to be indicative of nothing. Sweeney is said to be a good runner, a good defender and have a good hitting eye with projectable power. Baseball America rated him one of the 20 best prospects in the GCL which is pretty high praise given how little he actually got to play in 2010. My guess is there's a reasonable possibility the Jays will give him a chance to play in Lansing before the 2011 season is over.

4. Chris Hawkins (19) - one month older than Sweeney, and drafted one round behind him, Hawkins joined Sweeney on that BA top 20 list. Hawkins signed earlier than his draft-mate and got almost 3 times as many games in the GCL. The major difference in their production is that each drew 15 walks - Sweeney in 16 games and Hawkins in 46. Based on that, my guess is that the former is somewhat more advanced than the latter, and will be the one playing at the higher level when opening day arrives.

5. Mark Sobolewski (24) - Returning to Lansing to open the season after a less-than-mediocre season there in 2009, Sobo contributed impressive results for 40+ games before being promoted to Dunedin (skipping over the younger - and struggling at that point - Ahrens). while in Hi-A he was not bad, but not great. within the context of the normal offensive level of the league, it wasn't a BAD performance, but for a player his age he needs to draw noticeably more walks if he's going to really get any attention. Ideally, he needs to make the AA team in the spring to avoid a conflict for playing time in Dunedin.

Also pay attention to Gabriel Cenas, a 17 year old (as of today, in fact) Venezuelan signed the same day the Blue Jays signed Adonis Cardona. the team gave him $700,000 which is pretty impressive but only 1/4 what Cardona got (and Cardona was considered a middle-first-round talent) so make your calculations accordingly. In any case, he's surely 5-6 years away.
Another player people will ask questions about if he's not listed is Shawn Bowman who spent the year with the Jays' AA New Hampshire squad. While Bowman did exhibit impressive power in may and June, he tailed off considerably as the summer wore on and, overlooked by most, he's gonna be a minor league free agent (If I have my information correct).

1 comment:

mathesond said...

With regard to Emaus, I wonder if his age is a factor in Blair's opeinion of how he is viewed by the organization