What kind of a twisted mixed up universe is it when both Kevin Millwood and the apparently resurrected Andy Pettitte toss shutouts (ok, not complete game for Pettitte, but pretty good none-the-less) and where Orlando Hudson and Adam Lind are designated for assignment?
Well, the answer might be out there among this week's potential free agent gems, starting with the St. Louis first baseman of the future, Matt Adams. The 23-year old was also a 23rd round pick of the Cards during the 2009 June Draft. An unlikely looking sparkplug of a hitter, the stats suggest Adams is 6'3", 230 pounds, but when I saw him at the fall league last November, he looked both shorter and heavier. However, the dude can seriously rake.
Over 336 minor league games, Adams is hitting .318-73-268, with 91 doubles, and a solid enough .366 OBP (102 walks to 236 whiffs) and this year at Triple-A Memphis, was raking to the tune of .340-9-27 with ten doubles and a .978 OPS. Adams was summoned to play the Show to spell the ailing cards with Lance Berkman, Jon Jay, and Allen Craig all down, and he should get a chance to expound upon the pair of hits he had already collected at press time. You want to pick him up in a lean NL format, and consider him in mixed and ultra setups as well.
I was high on former Angel Alexi Amarista last year when his former team brought the now 23-year old Venezuelian up, but Amarista struggled with a .154-0-5 over 23 games. I liked Amarista based upon the .312-21-245 numbers, with 117 doubles, 35 tripes, and 120 swipes, although based upon the infielder's struggles last year, I did not pay that much attention when Alexi was swapped for fine reliever Ernesto Frieri. With the release of Hudson, Amarista is getting a shot and again, in a deep NL format, he is worth some attention for his reasonable on-base (163 walks to 234 strikeouts) and speed skills.
Minnesota is having a pretty dismal time of it this year, but maybe there are a few silver linings for the future out there, starting with shortstop Brian Dozier. A 25-year old, plucked in the 8th round of the 2009 draft, Dozier also have a pretty nice minor league resume, with .305-15-141 totals over 345 games. Dozier does not have a lot of pop (.416 SLG) but does have moderate speed with 45 swipes, and very good on-base numbers with a .379 OBP (151 walks to 168 strikeouts). Dozier has come out of the blocks hitting .286-2-7 over his first 13 games and as long as he is making contact like that, he will play and that makes him a nice gamble if you are thin up the middle.
San Francisco, hurting as much as anyone else in the infield with both Freddy Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval wounded, and their recent attempt at plugging that void with Conor Gillaspie failed (.150-0-2) so the Giants sent Gillaspie back to Fresno and called up former first rounder from 2007, Charlie Culberson. At 23, Culberson does not boast as solid a resume as his newbie mates above, having hit .263-37-130 in the minors, and though he was hitting .284-5-24 at Triple-A Fresno this year, that was in the Pacific Coast League: a hitter's haven. Neither has Culberson played much third since 2009, when he was the starter at the hot corner in Augusta. But, my biggest concern is the 461 strikeouts to 132 walks which suggest Culberson is not ready for big league pitching.
Another National League injury has felled the Reds Scott Rolen, and for now it appears that Todd Frazier will get first shot at that slot. Drafted in the 37th round by the Rockies in 2004, Frazier opted for playing at Rutgers first, and was then selected as a first rounder by the Reds in 2007. Over six seasons in the Reds system, Frazier was .280-75-300, including 136 doubles, with 205 walks to 437 strikeouts, good for a .353 OBP. Last year, over 41 games Frazier showed even better pop, going .232-6-15, and this year he has upped the ante, with .275-3-6 totals over 20 games, and an improved OBP in the majors to .327 over the .289 last year. I like Frazier on a team that can indeed score runs.
With Nolan Reimold hurting, Baltimore brought forth their second round selection from 2008, Xavier Avery. At just 22, Avery has five minor league seasons under his belt with .266-18-151 totals, although the 260 runs and 125 swipes he accumulated suggests more in the way of table setting than pop. Unfortunately Avery also has just a .328 OBP as a minor leaguer, with 155 walks to 477 strikeouts. However, prior to his call-up this year, Avery did improve that number significantly, with 20 walks to 29 whiffs, good for a .378 on-base total to go along with .273-5-16 totals. This is a dramatic improvement, and makes Avery worth watching as well, though his shot at garnering too many at-bats this year in the majors is somewhat slim at this point. Still, watch and see if the improved minor league numbers hold, for if they do, the outfielder might have made a major jump.
Looking at some arms, the Phillies brought forth their first round pick in 2007 Joe Savery. Actually, Savery was first picked by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2004 draft, but chose to spend some collegiate time at Rice instead. Savery actually has a so-so minor league line, with 33-31, 4.06 totals over 497 innings. With 536 hits allowed along with 208 walks to just 354 strikeouts, suggest the lefty is hittable. Of interest though, Savery can keep the ball down as his 37 dingers allowed suggests. Still, for now the southpaw will be working out of the pen, and thus far has been ok (0-0, 3.60 over 10 innings) but, Savery could earn a spot start, and with success at that, obviously things change.
Tampa plugged Alex Cobb into the slot opened when Jeff Niemann was injured, and the fourth rounder from 2006 responded well with his first start, earning a win over Atlanta Saturday, hurling seven fine innings with six whiffs. Last year Cobb was 3-2, 3.42 over nine starts and 52.2 innings (1.329 WHIP). In the minors, Cobb was 35-28, 3.07 over 107 starts, with a solid 1.21 ratio (582.2 innings, 541 hits, 169 walks, and 516 hits). On a strong team, Cobb is as safe a bet as you might find for a young pitcher, although Matt Moore owners must note that there is a difference between that killer minor league success, and translating the numbers to the show. In fact, all the guys this week need to remember that.
By the way, in finishing, the Giants signed Brad Penny to a deal over the weekend, after a fleeting and failed stint in Japan (0-1. 10.80 over one start and 3.1 innings). Though the 34-year olds 2011 numbers with the Tigers were less than stellar (11-11, 5.30 over 181.2 innings), Penny did have good success with the Giants to finish off 2009 (4-1, 2.95 over six starts and 41.2 innings). Keep an eye out: at least he is not a rookie!