Monday, February 23, 2009

AL '09 Rookie Preview - AL East

Who will be this year's Evan Longoria or Alexi Ramirez? While there may not be a player of Longoria's stature or someone who comes out of nowhere like Ramirez, there are plenty of good first year players to compete for this year's rookie of the year honors.

We start out today by taking a look at the rookies in the AL East.

AL East


With All-Stars and/or veterans at nearly every position, you won't see a rookie make an impact in the Bronx, outside of the bullpen, this season. And even then it would probably only be in a long man role. Al Aceves, Anthony Claggett, or Mark Melancon could be that guy, but none will be in the rookie of the year running.

Red Sox

Like the Yankees, Boston has put together a veteran team, with a sprinkle of younger players. But none of the youngsters are rookie eligible. Japanese import Junichi Taweze could have an impact in the Red Sox search for middle bullpen men.


You already got a glimpse of the favorite for the AL ROY in last year's post-season. David Price showed baseball fans what Rays fans have been drooling over since they selected him as the first overall pickout of Vanderbilt in the 2007 amateur draft.

Big, left-handed, and throws hard; that all spells intimidation. Price dominated Double-A hitters before struggling at the Triple-A level. However, a recall to the majors didn't prove to be a problem. Price posted a 1.98 ERA in 14 appearances (all but one of which were out of the pen) and then won one game while saving another in the ALCS. Price then threw 3.1 innings in the World Series to bolster his resume and confidence.

Blue Jays

Outfielder Travis Snider is one of the top prospects in baseball and a bona fide ROY candidate. He hit .301-2-13 in a 24 game call up late in the season. The just-turned 21-yr old is only three years out of high school, but he's quickly moved up the organization's depth chart.

Snider had a fabulous year at 'A' ball in 2007, belting 16 home runs and driving in 93 runs, while batting .338 and posting a .902 OPS. He built off of it last season, playing just 17 games (4 HR, 7 RBI) at high 'A' before a promotion to Double-A. While his batting average dipped (.262) and he had the usual young hitter's strikeout problem (116 K's in 362 ABs), he earned a promotion to Triple-A with 17 HRs, 67 RBI, and an .818 OPS in 98 games.

The Blue Jays came calling after Snider hit .344 at Syracuse with 2 HR and 17 RBI in just 18 games. That gave him a combined minor league season of 23 HR and 84 RBI.

With the departure of A.J. Burnett, 22-yr old Brett Cecil has a chance to join the Blue Jays starting rotation. Like Snider, Cecil played at three levels last season, spending most of his time at Double-A New Hampshire. 129 strikeouts in 118.2 innings pitched opened GM J.P. Riccardi's eyes and Cecil has a legitimate chance to go north with the Jays if he can prove himself this spring (He won't have to wait long; he's got the starting assignment for Toronto's first spring training against the Yankees on Wednesday.)

Cecil was a closer and full-time reliever at the University of Maryland, but has made more than a smooth transition to starter. But just like a young hitter has a tendency to strike out, young pitchers tend to walk hitters. That wasn't the case for Cecil at Single- and Double-A, but he issued 16 free passes in just 30.2 innings for Syracuse.


Everyone in the Orioles organization as well as their fans is awaiting the arrival of catcher Matt Wieters, last season's minor league player of the year. Not since Joe Mauer has a catcher brought such expectation to the game. That's what will happen though when you hit 27 home runs, between 'A' and 'AA', and post a 1.054 OPS.

Wieters is likely to start the season in Triple-A, but is expected to be called up by the All-Star break. Wieters only has one year of pro ball under his belt, but he destroyed college pitching for three years while at Georgia Tech. Wieters has gotten good marks for calling games and handling pitchers. He's quickly become a team leader and is great with the fans. This guy is just what the Orioles organization has needed for a long time.

Ranking the AL East ROY Prospects

1. David Price
2. Matt Wieters
3. Travis Snider
4. Brett Cecil

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