Sunday, December 7, 2008

Minor League Free Agents: Where Teams Should Be Looking

Every year one player has the big question attached to him; where'd he come from? Here I'm going to try to answer that question. Every year along with Major League free agents, there are Minor League free agents. These players are sometimes good players and former highly touted prospect that for one reason or another didn't pan out or didn't parlay their minor league success into Major League success. These players deserve a second chance(and for some, a first chance). Most of these players' next stop, if they don't make the cut, is out of baseball, therefore they're motivated. More and more MLB teams have recently been giving these types of players(Ryan Ludwick) second chances to a great avail, this is the reason I don't understand why it's not being done more. So what I want to do now is run through a bunch of, what I believe to be, talented and possible MLB contributors on the cheap.
UPDATE: Most of these players have already been signed. Leading the pack have been Theo Epstein and now former GM, Jim Bowden.

SP's: Shane Komine-Is 28 years old, but has some potential and has okay stuff.
Roof: 5th Starter
Kevin Cameron-Also 28, has a lot to offer, I believe if he throws his fastball a little more he'd be excellent. Has a repertoire of a fastball, cutter, changeup, slider and another breaking ball.
Roof: Setup Man
Bobby Livingston-This former 4th rounder, is a lefty and is 26. That's appealing in it of itself. If given a chance Livingston could become a very good LOOGY(specialist).
Roof: good LOOGY
RP's: Brandon Medders-He was excellent in 05'-06' and all of the sudden dropped off in 2007. He has control issues.
Roof: Closer
Jose Capellan-The former highly touted prospect, is still just 27 and has plenty left. Has said to have hit 100 MPH several times and has a nasty sharp slider.
Roof: 3rd Starter/Closer
Roman Colon-This guy is the true definition of a chucker. He has little control but nasty stuff. A good pitching coach and life coach could help him resurrect his career.
Roof: Closer
C: Mat Tupman-A great defensive catcher who can also get on base. Also throws 95 MPH.
Roof: Defensive Minded Backstop
1B: Brad Eldred-Former 6th Rounder, is 6"5 270 with tons of power. At 28, plate discipline is what's standing between being him and being Adam Dunn.
Roof: Power Hitting 1B
2B: Brandon Fahey-At 27, Fahey's the kind of player that teammates love and opposing players hate. He's also great defensively.
Roof: The next David Eckstein
3B: Justin Huber-This Aussie used to be the Mets top prospect. At 26, he's still never reached his potential. A little work and he could be a solid utility player.
Roof: Super Utility with Good Hitting Skills(plays C, 1B, 2B, 3B, OF)
Joel Guzman-The former top Dodgers prospect has tons of potential and is only 24. He still hasn't adjusted to the Bigs but I still believe he's a special ballplayer.
Roof: All-Star
SS: Anderson Machado-Has soft hands, good range, quick feet and a cannon for an arm but has never put it together offensively in the minors.
Roof: Late Inning Defensive Replacement
Drew Meyer-The former first rounder, has solid numbers but never fully reached his potential as a power hitting SS.
Roof: Pinch Hitter
LF: Sean Barker-Has put up superb offensive numbers in the high minor leagues. If given a chance he may take it and run.
Roof: Starting LF
Chase Lambin-Terrific minor league numbers but strikes out way to much(24.5%). At age 30, if Chase can lower the K's he'd be good.
Roof: Platoon LF
Val Pascucci-This guy has tremendous power, draws lots of walks, strikes out a ton and plays poor defense. He has old player skills.
Roof: Starting 1B/LF
CF: Tommy Murphy-The former 3rd round pick was never given a real shot in the majors. He's a speed demon and plays a superb CF but has horrible plate discipline.
Roof: 4th Outfielder
Freddy Guzman-Don't really like this guy but he was a former top prospect and is projected by Marcel to be a league average CFer and therefore should be in the MLB.
Roof: League average CFer on a bad team
Chris Duffy-Duffy's a solid fielder and a below average hitter. He could still become an MLB average CFer.
Roof: MLB average CFer
RF: Paul McAnulty-The 27 year old is very patient and has tons of power. He doesn't make consistent contact and has never proved himself at the MLB level.
Roof: Platoon Corner Outfielder/Firstbasemen
George Lombard-Getting old and not performing isn't very useful but this all glove speedy outfielder could eventually find success at the bigs.
Roof: 4th Outfielder

As you can see from all the aforementioned players, there is plenty of talent under the surface that plenty of GM's never give a fair chances to show their worth(even though plenty are signed). This is a real shame because most of these players are getting too old to be starting an MLB career. The point that I'm trying to make has nothing to do with these players. These players are just this year's sample and most of them have already signed minor league contracts with other teams. This is fine, but how many of these players will actually get serious looks? Maybe one or two. If I was a GM I'd be able to build a slightly below average team(70-80 wins) with theses players alone, and that's better than the Pirates were. If teams like the Pirates would take a long hard look at these types of players, those teams wouldn't have to sign expensive free agent veterans to just fill holes until their prospects are ready, and instead could allocate the extra money into the draft and scouting.

What this does is: a) gives these players a chance to prove themselves, b) saves small market teams from spending on unimportant areas and c) depresses free agent prices because all the small market teams would be looking elsewhere for fill-ins(players that fill in until a team's top prospect is MLB ready). All this would be great for the game of baseball and would also save small market teams invaluable assets which could then be used for making that team a serious contender down the road(via scouting/drafting or adding the final piece through free agency/trade).