Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AL '09 Rookie Preview - AL West

It's hump day, which means it's the first Spring Training game for the Yankees. Unfortunately it's neither on radio nor TV (not sure about MLBTV). It also means we continue our look at the American League rookie of the year candidates, this time focusing on the AL West.


Another team filled with the veterans, the Angels don't have too many openings on their roster. But they have been a team that isn't afraid to give a youngster a chance (just look at how they turned K-Rod loose on the AL).

Kendry Morales and Brandon Wood no longer have rookie status, but have a shot to win the corner infield spots. The number 5 spot in the rotation is the only area that a rookie has a real shot of staking a claim to. Nick Adenhart was up for a cup of coffee last season and looked over matched, but he'll get a chance this spring to be in the rotation. He struggled at Triple-A as well in '08, but put up solid numbers in the past, and at just 22 years of age, is still considered a prized prospect.


The team traded away outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, first baseman Daric Barton is injured at the moment, brought in veterans Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday, and although Billy Beane will always play kids, there are just no openings in the lineup this season.

That could change though if a starting pitcher struggles, and left-hander Brett Anderson (ranked as the 7th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America) continues to emerge. For now, Anderson will start the season at Triple-A Sacramento after going 11-5 last season with 118 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched.


Texas moved Michael Young to third base in order to give the starting shortstop job to Elvis Andrus. The 20-yr old has been in the organization since he was 16 years old and has never played above Double-A. But the numbers he put up in 118 games - .295 average, 65 RBI, and 53 steals - for the Frisco Rough Riders, caught the organization's attention. They also brought in veteran Omar Vizquel to tutor him.

Andrus will have a legitimate shot to win the AL Rookie of the Year. He won't be alone though. With the departure of Gerald Laird, Taylor Teagarden will battle Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the starting catching position.

Teagarden wow the Rangers front office last season, when he hit 6 home runs and drove in 17 runs in just 47 at-bats. (Can you imagine if Teagarden, Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis, and Nelson Cruz all lived up to their power potential?).


The Mariners are another team loaded with veterans (and looking very mediocre). They're also a team that doesn't have any rookies ready to step in to a starting position on the near horizon.

Ranking the AL Central ROY Prospects

1. Elvis Andrus
2. Taylor Teagarden
3. Brett Anderson
4. Nick Adenhart

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