The 2009 baseball season is right around the corner!
Okay, so no it's not. But I can dream can't I? Especially when my team is in 2nd to last place?
Oh well, I'm going to look ahead anyway because I've seen some good things from some young players this year and I'm already salivating from the thought that I can get these guys late in my draft next year. (Or even off the waiver wire!)
C - Jeff Clement, Seattle Mariners
Hard to believe that a guy hitting .178 would be a sleeper for 2008 but simply put, he's the best option. Matt Wieters (Baltimore Orioles) probably won't be a regular at the start of next season, Ryan Doumit is already a top 5 catcher, and JR Towles has played even worse than Clement.
It's more likely that his gaudy AAA numbers will start to show up by next season than it is that he'll be a career .178 hitter with a HR every 25 at bats. Remember, nobody hit more home runs in a high school career than this guy. Nobody.
1B - Chris Davis, Texas Rangers
Mark who? The trade at least year's deadline sending Mark Teixeira to Atlanta for a bounty of prospects looks even better for the Rangers considering they got Chris Davis already solidified at the first base position, and looking very much like he could be an All-Star as soon as 2009.
Through 33 games and 122 at-bats, Davis already has 11 HR, 22 RBI, 27 R, and 9 doubles. That's a home run every 11.09 at bats. In a 162-game season those numbers project out to 54 dingers, 108 RBI, 132 runs scored, and 44 doubles. Teixeira's career high in home runs? 43.
2B - Ian Stewart, Colorado Rockies
Unsure what role, if any, Stewart could have with the Rockies next season, but as it stands he is with the big league club and does have 2B eligibility. With the way he is playing, you'd think the Rockies would find a place for him by next year. Which means you should too.
In his last 15 games, Stewart is hitting .392 with a .500 on-base percentage, has 15 RBI and scored 10 times. Over a full season he could easily hit above .300 with over 100 RBI and over 100 runs scored, which for a second baseman means he's at the elite-level.
3B - Andy LaRoche, Pittsburgh Pirates
What I thought would be a loaded position, really wasn't.
Evan Longoria is already established. Chase Headley is in a pitcher's park and has not been impressive. Mike Moustakas (Royals) Josh Vitters (Cubs) and Mat Gamel (Brewers) may not be ready by next year. And who knows what to make of Brandon Wood (Angels)?
LaRoche at least should get the opportunity to play every day and could benefit from the change of scenery. The lineup is really young, be also really talented.
SS - Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals
Why isn't this guy one of the hottest topics in the baseball world right now? If he played for the Red Sox or Yankees, trust me, he would be.
But I'll be like the rest of the world and not talk about him. I'll just project out his numbers through 52 games for a 162-game season.
105 runs, 221 hits, 59 doubles, 22 HR, 96 RBI, 10 SB, .340 BA.
That's borderline first round talent that you'll probably get in round 12 at the earliest.
OF - Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
No, his rookie season has not been great. After a banner debut, there has been a lot left to be desired and he now sits with a below average OPS of .749 after 60 big league games.
But that's only good news for the owner that probably is going to get him a few rounds later than he should.
Bruce will most likely be batting third or cleanup for the Reds next season and last time I checked, that's a hitters park.
It's only a matter of time before this baby-faced kid is smashing homers and driving in runs like the other kid that just got traded out of Cincinnati.
OF - Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Honestly, I was never that impressed with Jones when he was in the Seattle system and thought he was overrated.
But after watching his development with the Orioles this season, I think I'll have to eat crow.
By next year with his first full season under his belt, I think that Jones could easiy score 100 runs hitting in front of Nick Markakis, and possibly drive in 70-80 runs with 10-15 stolen bases and 15-20 HR.
Those aren't numbers you write home about but they will make him a steal in the last few rounds of the draft.
OF - Colby Rasmus, St Louis Cardinals
Call this my "Carlos Quentin Pick of 2009"
The Cardinals are loaded in the outfield, not only in the big leagues where they have no glaring weaknesses and all of their players are young, but even their minor league system has quite a few good to great prospects.
Rasmus has proven everything he needs to with the AAA Memphis Redbirds and is going to Beijing to prove himself some more.
So I believe the Cards will either move Rasmus for a front-line starter or make room for him with the big league club.
He's already available in the Yahoo game now, but you can probably get this guy with the last pick in your draft next year and expect considerable returns.
DH - Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
No more if's and's or Butler's with this Royal. 2009 will be his year.
He may be the DH, but Butler also currently qualifies for 1B and OF positions. He has been hot since his most recent callup and I believe next year will drive in over 120 runs.
He'll definitely be overlooked in next year's drafts.
SP - David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
He's simply the best.
Let me break it down for you. In his 14 minor league starts this year, split between 'single A advanced' and 'double A', Price is 10-0 with a 1.97 ERA and .99 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 86 innings against just 19 walks.
Those people who have refused to use their waiver priority until the beginning of September when Price will almost certainly get called up will not be disappointed they did so.
He's the top prospect in baseball right now and most likely the favorite for next years Rookie of the Year award.
SP - Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
His numbers have not been great but Cueto has better stuff than Edinson Volquez and has still shown flashes of brilliance.
His strikeout numbers could very well develop into making him the K king of 2009 because he has nasty stuff.
Usually, with strikeout pitchers, the ERA and WHIP numbers start to go down because simply the hitters aren't putting the ball in play.
I think that will happen for Cueto and he could be next years Tim Lincecum.
SP - Brandon Morrow, Seattle Mariners
Another guy that could be the next Tim Lincecum is one of the pitcher's drafted ahead of him.
Morrow was very good last year as a pitcher in the big leagues less than a year after he was drafted.
He has been downright nasty this year and at times unhittable putting together long strings of innings in which he maybe allowed a runner to reach base once every 4 appearances.
Next year Morrow will transition to starter and probably be valued about where Adam Wainwright was valued when he made the offseason transition to starter but Morrow is even more talented than Wainwright.
I expect his win totals to be in the low ten range, but should put up an ERA in the mid-three's with a strikeout ratio above 8 per 9 innings. Those are very good numbers, especially for a late-rounder.