>Crawdads may finding themselves taking one step back before they take two steps forward. They allowed a number of free agents, such as Evan Oquist and Ken Small go to make room for some of the younger pitchers coming up. With youth usually comes inconsistency. So below is the Crawdads season in review for number 8.
1B – One of the premiere players in the league, Felipe Tarasco started as a left fielder but moved to first base for defensive reasons. He won the gold glove at the position in season 7 and was voted MVP for the All Star game and just missed out on the MVP of the seaons. He finished with .306, 53, 134 and at 29 years of age is in the prime of his career. Since making the majors in season 3, his lowest homerun total is 44.
2B – Last year was Grover Grimsley’s rookie year and he struggled, finishing with numbers of .234, 19, 50 with 50 stolen bases. For a .336 minor league hitter he should only improve. Grover will again be batting leadoff.
SS – There are not many shortstops who can hit for the power of Freddy Kwon (78), have success versus righthanded pitching (94) and field his position well (88,83,96,86). He does have problems making contact (31/121 K’s) but at 25 he only has room for improvement. His numbers would be acceptable for 29 other teams at the SS position (.245, 27, 82) .
3B – Will be a platoon with Wayne Ryan, who has light tower power (98/33 HRs) and veteran Richard Carson, who is on the downside of his career. The Crawdads have 4 players in AA or higher who are ready to take over this position in the long term.
C – Greg Wright has the offensive numbers (.295, 1, 33) while Rafael Samuel has the defensive prowess, but provides some offensive wallop (.265, 13, 32). Considering that Rafael only played against lefthanders, and not all of them, those HR numbers are impressive. Gregg Wright hopes to improve on his offensive numbers (.316 career average) if he wants to stay in the starting lineup.
LF – There is no one on the team with a grittier, tough as nails personality as Edgar Lecuona. He finished at .270, 36, 103, which is comprable to the numbers he put up last year, which was his first complete year for the Crawdads.
CF – The Crawdads are going to give Wascar Tabaka one more year in AAA before handing him the position, so until then it will be a platoon of Nolan Steele (.277, 23, 76) and Aaron Prinz, who will get his first taste of major league action. Aaron is a career .296 hitter in the minor leagues, but provides excellent speed at the top of the order.
RF – Gary Quinn is another rookie waiting to make a name for himself. Only Wayne Ryan can hit the ball farther. Gary hit 4 homeruns in 56 at bats in his September callup last year.
SP – Livan Flores can pitch with the best of them, winning a Cy Young in season 4. He eats up innings like no other pitcher (223 to 261 innings in his 7 seasons) and is the anchor of the staff. He finished 17-7, with a 3.50 ERA in his best season since season 4. Rookie Albert Nunez hope to be Livan light. He’s averaged close to 200 innings in his 4 minor league seasons and has a career ERA of 3.74. Horacio Lugo made the AAA All Star team last year and in his brief call up with the Crawdads finished 3-1, 3.54 in his 8 starts. The starting staff is rounded out by Ramon Kim (10-6, 4.53) and Terrence Buchanan (4-8, 4.77).
RP – The Crawdads really have not found a stopper, but Socks Bryant saves games (31, 138 for his career) but he also blows saves. His 89 appearances led the Crawdads, but his 4.34 has to be reduced to be an effective stopper. Arthur Bonham (3-11, 10 saves, 5.05) made the All Star team in seasons 5 and 6, but fell out of favor with the manager after one too many explosive innings. The bullpen is rounded out by Wally Delesandro (4.34, 42 gms), Buddy Minor (must improve on that 5.93 ERA), rookie Clay Rhodes (0.00 ERA in 7 appearances) and veteran Artie Roberts (3.10 in 62 appearances)
So scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem for this bunch. Getting pitching, without having to rush a minor league prospect is the goal.
Top prospects in the minors that are surefire major leaguers include:
Felix Bailes (LHP)
Estaban Marquez (RHP)
Barry Philipps (RHP)
Wascar Tabaka (CF)
Chad Webster (SS)
Terry Brooks (3B)
Mariano Gutierrez (closer)
Clarence Hunter (RF)
Olmedo Lee (LHP)
Miguel Liriano (set-up)
Jason Newfield (RHP)
Spike Scali (LHP)
Jamey Carter (1B)
Nigel Kim (RHP)
Lou LaRoche (LHP)
Clayton Pierce (SS)
Dweezil Steenstra (2B)
Joel Lieber (RF)