Yonder Alonso has tried his hand in the outfield, but he's best suited for first base, where the Reds currently have 2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.
When the trade deadline rolls around this year, you're going to see plenty of rumors flying about the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers looking to add some pieces to their roster via trades.
And the teams who they're going to get those parts from (likely the Pirates, A's and Padres) are going to have one demand for them:
Big-league ready players.
In case you weren't aware, that "moniker" means guys who are likely playing at Triple-A, but who are young enough to have everyday player potential.
In year's past, that has fit players like Seattle 1B Justin Smoak (acquired from Texas for Cliff Lee), Kansas City RHP Jeremy Jeffress (acquired from Milwaukee for Zack Greinke) and Nationals C Wilson Ramos (acquired from Minnesota for Matt Capps).
This year, the moniker is bound to fit a whole bunch more players, including these likely characters...
One-hundred and thirty-one career home runs (and counting), and Brandon Allen still hasn't reached the big-leagues to stay.
The former fifth-round draft pick is on to his second organization after being dealt in 2009 from Chicago to Arizona for Tony Pena. How'd that one work out, Kenny Williams?
And despite a cup of coffee (32 games) a little more than a month after the trade, Allen has only been back in the big-leagues for 22 more contests. And while he hasn't performed terribly (five HR, 20 RBI in 139 ABs), he now has two things working against him.
One, he's playing in the Diamondbacks minor league system, which has super-slugger Paul Goldschmidt down at Double-A hitting .333 with 21 home runs and 59 RBI in just 68 games. It's only a matter of time before "Goldy" gets the promotion to Triple-A, or heck, even straight to Arizona. His presence just about solidifies the fact that Allen has no long term future with this club.
Two, the D-Backs are currently in a dead-heat with the San Francisco Giants for the division lead, something not too many people expected. And while their first-base play from Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady has left much to be desired, the formula has worked so far for Arizona. If they can remain in contention, they're likely to go for more pitching or seek out a veteran first baseman who can help with the stretch run.
In the end, however, they're going to turn over the position to Goldschmidt, making Allen expendable, and a likely trade target.
I would have gone with J.J. Hoover for this one, but he bombed out in his two Triple-A starts, returning to the comforts of Double-A.
Instead, I'm going with infielder Brandon Hicks, a guy who can do a little bit of everything, as he's proven this season, earning a recent call-up to the big-league roster.
The Braves had big plans for their third-round pick from the 2007 draft, but somewhere between Low-A and High-A, he forgot how to hit for average, and while the power is still there (45 HR in 348 games), his days of being a golden boy are long gone. I regret to inform you, Braves fans...he is not the man to replace Chipper Jones.
Hicks does still offer some value for Atlanta. If they continue to remain in the hunt, and they're looking to deal for some parts, Hicks could make an excellent add-on to a deal that would likely include one of their strong starting pitcher prospects such as Randall Delgado or Arodys Vizcaino.
Alright, enough with the Brandons.
Or maybe not. Just like how the White Sox had big plans for Brandon Allen, and the Braves even bigger ones for Hicks, the O's had grand expectations of how lefty Troy Patton would aid their cause of turning their club back into a contender.
I'm pretty sure they envisioned it differently, in a way that had Patton as a crucial member of the team's starting rotation, and not the Triple-A bullpen.
Unfortunately, that's the way the cookie crumbled for the lefty who was acquired from Houston in the Miguel Tejada deal. He had to undergo surgery shortly after joining the Orioles, and hasn't seem to found his footing ever since.
He has found a solid niche in the Norfolk bullpen, pitching to a 2.81 ERA in 25.2 innings, but in his limited time up in Baltimore, he has struggled greatly, adding fuel to the fire that is burning the rumor that he's not long for the Emerald City.
If the Orioles could, I'm sure they'd love to find a way to move him while he still has a little bit of prospect clout left.
It was just a few years ago that Mr. Anderson (Hugo Weaving style) was the cream of the crop in a very loaded Red Sox farm system.
That was before the ascension of Anthony Rizzo.
And the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez.
And the departure of Anthony Rizzo.
Why Anderson wasn't included in the deal that brought Gonzalez to Beantown is anybody's guess, but it seems like San Diego has caught on to what the rest of the baseball community has been seeing over the past few seasons. Anderson isn't what he used to be.
Yes, the hulking first baseman still has some of the best plate discipline in the minor leagues (45:55 BB:K this year), but his power never fully developed as the Red Sox brass had hoped, and he somehow lost the ability to hit for a decent average. Also, his defensive value is nowhere near what Rizzo or Gonzalez offers.
With his high OBP ways and his sub-par defensive value, Anderson seems like a better fit for Oakland...and there's no way he's making it in Boston.
Two catchers ranked in Baseball America's Top 30 for the Cubs this season, and neither was named Clevenger.
Despite his impressive showing this season for the Tennessee Smokies (.298, four HR, 21 RBI in 41 games), Clevenger has fallen by the way-side in Chicago, relegated to backup of the backup of the backup of the backup status, behind Welington Castillo and Robinson Chirinos.
And of course that Soto fellow up in the big leagues.
But while he has been surpassed by two players with greater ceilings, what can't be ignored is how much better of a catcher and hitter Clevenger is right now than both Castillo and Chirinos. Never once in full-season ball has he failed to hit below .290, and he's never struck out more than 51 times in a single season.
Clevenger should get a shot, and he deserves one, but his best interests probably aren't going to be served in Chicago.
Did I mention he hit .800 in six games during spring training this year?
Heck, send him to Baltimore; we'll take him.
Like Brandon Allen, Flowers has also has a previous trade history.
Back in 2008, Flowers was shipped from Atlanta to Chicago for Javier Vazquez, and the man doing the acquiring (Kenny Williams) was hoping that Flowers would blossom into the catcher-of-the-future that the Braves were banking on him becoming and one day take over for A.J. Pierzynski. Three years later, they're still waiting.
Instead, Flowers became another cautionary tale and proof that the players you think you're getting in a trade with the Braves almost never amount to anything.
Except for you, Elvis Andrus.
And you, Neftali Feliz.
After an awful trial run in the Majors back in 2009 that included an average of .188, Flowers has been pretty much good for nothing. He hit .220 last year in Triple-A and has bumped that number slightly to .225 this year.
The White Sox went out and got themselves some Flowers-insurance in 2009 first-round supplemental pick Josh Phegley and 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Blanke.
Doesn't seem like there's room for this Flower anymore.
I can't think of a prospect that has been in a worse position in the past decade.
Not only does he look awful in the outfield, but he can't even settle for playing his best position (first base), because his path to the majors there is blocked by some guy named Joey Votto. Maybe you've heard of him.
He won the National League MVP Award last season and is one of the finest young hitters in baseball.
Alonso has been rumored as trade-bait since about two months after he signed a professional contract, and with the Reds staring up at Milwaukee and St. Louis in the standings, this might finally be the year that they move him for some extra help somewhere on the roster.
Huff will be 27 years old this August, and while he has 38 big-league starts under his belt and is in no way, shape or form considered a "prospect" anymore, he still could have some value for a club fighting and scraping to stay atop the American League Central.
Don't get me wrong; Huff has been terrible in the big leagues.
In 2009, he somehow won 11 games on one of the worst teams in baseball with a 5.61 ERA and despite surrendering 16 home runs in just 128 innings.
In 15 starts last year, he improbably picked up a "L" in 11 of them, posting a 6.21 ERA and giving up 14 runs in only 79.2 innings!
You think maybe it's time for a move to the bullpen?
The Indians have a great stable of young starters (Zach McAllister, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz) down in the minors and a solid, but slightly over-achieving group (Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco) in the majors, but where they could always use more help is in the bullpen.
And since that can be said of just about every other team in baseball, it only makes sense that he might get his shot at being trade bait this season.
In case you haven't been paying attention, the Rockies not only have a talented (but also inconsistent) catcher at the big-league level in Chris Iannetta, but also have a guy waiting in the wings (of Double-A) to blow the whole thing up in Wilin Rosario.
Rosario could have been in Colorado by now if he hadn't been saddled with a setback in the form of a torn ACL, but make no mistake, HE is the team's long-term answer behind the plate, combining a great approach at the plate with solid defensive skills.
The Rockies also drafted one of the college crop's top catchers in this year's draft. Peter O'Brien has excellent power, and while he strikes out a lot, he would crush both Iannetta and Rosario in a home-run derby.
And then there's Pacheco, humming along in Triple-A hitting .272 with eight doubles and 22 RBI. If the season ended today, this would be the first year since 2008 that Pacheco would have finished with an average under .300, and his career line is mighty fine: .306/.379/.427.
Clearly he doesn't offer much power, but he does contribute something that not many catchers (healthy ones anways) do today: an ability to hit for a high average.
With Rosario and O'Brien behind him...not to mention Iannetta in front, it seems like Pacheco's best fit might be somewhere else.
I listed Dirks as an outfielder, but his title should read "Andy Dirks, LF."
And that big "LF" is the reason he might be looking for another organization. That is the same position that Brennan "Who Knew He Was For Real" Boesch happens to play. And if you've seen Boesch's stat-line, which looks a little something like this, you'll realize why:
.290/.350/.471, 9 HR, 36 RBI and two OF assists
Boesch has actually split time between right- and left-field this season, picking up the slack of Magglio Ordonez, who has only played in 29 contests.
Many wrote off Boesch after he struggled down the stretch last year, but thanks to his strong rebound to start the season, it looks like he's working his way into the Tigers long-term plans.
That doesn't leave too much room for Dirks.
The Marlins outfield situation is muddled enough without tossing Peterson's name in the hat.
They already have a mixture of Chris Coghlan, Scott Cousins (when not playing in San Fran) and Emilio Bonifacio manning center, while Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton lock down the corner spots.
That doesn't leave much room for a 25-year-old outfielder who is in the midst of his fifth pro season, even if he happens to be hitting .342 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs and 24 RBI in 54 games.
And especially when a solid chunk of your organization's top prospects (Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Isaac Galloway) happen to be in line for an outfield spot as well.
Move along, Bryan Peterson.
Last time I checked, the Astros had the worst record in Major League Baseball. They're pretty much assured a top-two pick in next year's draft, and despite the presence of veteran shortstop Tommy Manzella, they might be looking in the direction of a shortstop.
And did I mention that two of their top prospects, Jio Mier and Jonathan Villar, also happen to play the same position.
Both have a much higher ceiling than Manzella, who has actually put together a nice season for the Astros Triple-A affiliate, hitting .267 with 11 doubles, five triples and five home runs. He's driven in 35 runs and swiped seven bags, but has also struck out a ridiculous 71 times in just 236 at-bats.
The 'Stros currently have a serviceable guy in the big-leagues (Clint Barmes), so there's really no reason to hang on to Manzella, who has hit under .225 in 90 big-league appearances.
Giavotella's dance-card out of Kansas City was punched the day the team drafted Christian Colon.
Colon played shortstop in high-school and college, but profiles best at second base as a pro, and the Royals have already proclaimed that he's their guy long-term, leaving Giavotella out of luck.
And it's a shame really, because he's one of the top offensive second basemen in the minor leagues, hitting .318 with five home runs and 50 RBI this season for Triple-A Omaha, one year after hitting .322 with 35 doubles, nine home runs and 65 RBI down in Double-A.
He's currently on pace to shatter his career high in RBI, and he could give his doubles and batting average marks a run for their money as well.
Almost as important as the production when he swings is his production when he doesn't. Giavotella has a 26:38 BB:K ratio this year after posting a 61:67 number last year and a 66:54 mark the year before.
While he might get a shot to prove himself late this year, I don't see anyway that the Royals can find room for both players, and since they committed $2.75 million to Colon, it's likely Giavotella will be looking for employment elsewhere.
The Angels have a big-time glut of outfielders in their system, and most happen to fit the same profile: rangy, athletic guys who offer great defensive ability and excellent speed.
Unfortunately for Pettit, both Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout happen to have much more of just about everything, making the soon-to-be 26-year-old for the most part expendable.
Pettit has had a terrible season this year, by far the worst of his career. His average is down to a paltry .167 in 209 at-bats. This coming a year after he hit .321 with 18 steals in the same league for the same team. Pettit also had a strong showing in a big-league call-up, hitting .286 in 10 games.
If the Angels were wise, they'd do their best to see if they could get something for him while he still has some prospect clout left.
With the kind of numbers Trayvon Robinson is putting up at Triple-A this season, it's kind of hard to figure out why he's still abusing Pacific Coast League pitching instead of trying his hand up in Los Angeles.
Oh yeah...that Matt Kemp fellow. That's why.
Robinson has yet to turn 24, and he has already reached the point where he's dominating the highest level of the minors, bashing 15 home runs to go along with seven doubles and five triples. He's already driven in 44 runs, just 21 shy of a career-high, and has seven steals.
Did I mention this is his first attempt at Triple-A?
Last year, he swiped 38 bases and the year before, 47. This year, he's seemed to focus more on his power-stroke, and it's really paid off.
Unfortunately, no amount of power can force Kemp out of centerfield in L.A. And it's pretty hard to break into any other outfield spot. Just ask Jerry Sands.
For now, it looks like Robinson is stuck in Triple-A, unless the Dodgers can add him in to some sort of package.
The 22-year-old outfielder is one of the top position player prospects in the Brewers organization.
Sadly, that's not saying much, as Gindl is hitting .264 this season with seven home runs, 20 RBI and 50 strikeouts in less than 200 at-bats.
In case you hadn't noticed, the Brewers are all in this year. They sacrificed almost all the major talent in their farm system to acquire Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, and while those moves have both paid off big-time, they now lack the prospect wealth to acquire whoever might be needed to help down the stretch.
They better hope what they have is enough, or else Gindl could be moving on by the time the trade deadline rolls around.
Slama has actually seen time in Minnesota in each of the past two seasons, but with the team headed for a terrible season, they might view him as a guy who could be moved to a contender and net them a few interesting prospects.
It's not like Slama is a young guy. He's already 27 and has spent significant parts of the past three seasons in Triple-A where he has proven to be an excellent closer, saving 22 games.
If he hasn't earned a spot in the big-league bullpen by now, though, he's not very likely to stick around long-term.
A couple of years ago, Martinez was the darling of the Mets' system.
He was coming off a .292 season with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 2008, earning his way to Double-A before his 21st birthday.
Three years later, he's in the midst of his second season at Triple-A and no closer to locking down a spot on the big-league roster than he was then. Yeah, he's seen some time with the big-league club—45 games to be exact—but he has failed to impress, hitting below .200.
Even worse, he's been passed over in the team's "prospect hierarchy" by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cesar Puello and 2011 draftee Brandon Nimmo.
Sadly, it doesn't seem like Martinez is ever going to get the chance to fulfill his promise, at least not in a Mets uni.
Warren has arguably been the Yankees top minor league pitcher this year, posting a 5-2 record, a 3.33 ERA and a team-leading 81 innings in 13 starts.
Still, the Yankees are the Yankees.
Why try to build with guys like Warren, Banuelos and Betances when there are Freddy Garcias and Bartolo Colons still out there?
The Yankees fear (like they even know that word) should be that once Warren leaves town (most likely in a trade for a fourth or fifth outfielder), he'll develop into a beast like Zach McAllister did for the Indians.
For the first time since 2009, Taylor seems to have finally found his power stroke.
After needing 127 games last year to bash six home runs, he's already cranked out that same number in just 29 contests, and his average has climbed steadily back up to the .290 range.
Taylor is a massive specimen (6'5", 265 lbs) and was a part of the three-team trade that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia.
In his time in Oakland, he has been largely a disappointment, becoming more of a singles-hitter than the extra-base machine he was in Philly.
With Oakland still rebuilding and stocking their farm system with plenty of young, athletic (less large) outfielders, this could be the year that they try to move Taylor to a contender.
There are those that feel that the Phillies are done dealing starting pitching prospects under the assumption that the Halladay-Lee-Oswalt triumvirate will eventually expire, either due to age or contract quibbles.
And while you can't deny the fact that all three of them are in fact aging, like the rest of the human race, I don't think the Phillies have much to worry about. Down in the minors, they have a very promising set of young arms like Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, Brody Colvin and Jesse Biddle.
Toss in the fact that Cole Hamels is still pretty young, and I'd say they could afford to deal some MLB-ready pitching, most notably Vance Worley, a 23-year-old right-hander who has been amazing in the minors this year (4-2, 2.62 ERA, 47:12 K:BB ratio) and just as good in the Majors (2-1, 3.41 ERA, 22:12 K:BB ratio).
Come September, it's going to be Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels that lead this club, and they might even be able to survive with just those four in the playoffs.
That doesn't leave much use for Worley, so if they could package him to get a piece they might need around the trade deadline, they shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
The one fault of the Pirates, up until about two years ago, was their willingness to deal veteran players for mid-tier prospects.
They did it to acquire Daniel McCutchen, Gorkys Hernandez, Tim Alderson and Andrew Lambo.
And while they slowly built a great collection of fourth outfield types and AAAA starters, they didn't get any elite talent in return for all those losses.
Luckily, the Pirates have been pretty good at getting lucky with some players they themselves have drafted, like Neil Walker, Paul Maholm and Dan Moskos. They're hoping they hit on another with Hague, who is playing very well at Triple-A Indianapolis. He's hitting .307 with 13 doubles, five homers and 34 RBI.
Last year, Hague exploded onto the scene, hitting .295 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI for Double-A Altoona. That put him on the Pirates radar.
With Lyle Overbay's average hovering around .220, it's conceivable that the Pirates might give Hague a chance later this season. However, given their propensity to go with veterans over rookies, he could just as well find himself in another organization.
Once a highly-touted prospect in St. Louis, Todd has already been a member of three teams this year.
He began the year with the Indians after getting dealt to Cleveland in 2009 for Mark DeRosa. He made eight appearances for the Tribe's Triple-A affiliate. On May 6, he was picked up off waivers by the Yankees, who assigned him back to the International League, where he made two more appearances. Finally, 10 days later, the Cardinals claimed him from the Yankees, and he's pitched in the Pacific Coast League ever since.
And it seems like he's really enjoying a little familiarity. With Cleveland and New York, Todd posted an ERA over 10.00. Back in St. Louis, however, his ERA is down to 4.24, and he has 11 strikeouts in 12.2 innings spanning 12 outings.
Already an one-time trade member, Todd has been involved in three transactions, meaning he's about 75 percent more likely to be dealt again.
Poreda is another guy who has been dealt before.
He came to San Diego via Chicago, who included him with three other players in a deal that brought pitcher Jake Peavy to the Windy City.
Since his arrival in So-Cal, Poreda has worked on making the transition from starting to the bullpen. For the most part, it's been very successful, although this year, he seems to have hit a speed-bump in Triple-A.
His ERA currently sits around 7.00, and he has only two more strikeouts (38) than walks (36) in only 34 innings.
It might just be an off-year for Poreda, which bullpen guys have every so often, but it's more likely that he's not long for the Padres organization.
Gillaspie was actually the first member of the 2008 draft class to reach the majors, a perk for signing for slot as a first-round supplemental pick.
Since returning to the minors after eight games, he has steadily risen through the system. He's been good for a .285-.288 average everywhere he's been, showing a little pop, great plate discipline and average speed.
This year, in Triple-A for the first time and only a stone's throw away from reaching the majors again, Gillaspie has put together one of his finest starts to any season. He's hitting .288 with 15 doubles, four homers and 35 RBI. Against righties, he's been especially dangerous, hitting .305 with more walks (19) than strikeouts (18).
The Giants are currently in need of a third baseman, but once Pablo Sandoval returns, Gillaspie should be expendable.
Tuiasosopo sealed his fate with a couple of rough big-league cameos that resulted in a combined .176 career average through 71 games, spanning three seasons.
This year, he's back in Triple-A, for the fourth time, and it seems as if the routine is finally wearing on him. He's hitting a career-low .236 with 70 strikeouts in 250 at-bats.
He does have seven homers and 44 RBI, and has showed a willingness to take a walk (43 in 64 games), but his overall play isn't going to be getting him back to the show anytime soon. At 25 years old, Tuiasosopo might be running out of chances in Seattle, making him a strong candidate to get dealt if the Mariners find themselves in contention near the end of the summer.
The Rays could probably pick just about any pitcher in their farm system, trade him and still have the best pitching depth in the minors.
It only makes sense that they would try to deal with the overcrowding at the top of their system, making room for the higher-ceiling prospects like Matt Moore while also using a piece like Torres to shore up their bullpen or lineup for a stretch-run.
Torres got off to a really hot start in April, posting a 1.83 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 19.2 innings, but has cooled as of late. He now has a 4.06 ERA and 42 walks in just 68.2 innings, but he also has 72 strikeouts.
Torres is a talented prospect who could probably pitch out of the back-end of the rotation of just about any team in the majors, but in Tampa's system, he's stuck in Triple-A.
Someday the Rays are finally going to have to make a move with some of their starting pitchers, and Torres' ceiling is low enough that they could gamble with him.
Texas looked like the runaway winner of the American League West early in the season, but with the Mariners gaining ground on them fast, they're likely to make a move to shore up a few holes.
Like the Yankees, they could use some extra arms in the bullpen and would also do well to add some extra outfield talent. God only knows how long Josh Hamilton will stay healthy this time, and while Nelson Cruz has 15 home runs, he's taking the Mark Reynolds approach (59 K in 51 G) to get there.
The Rangers greatest strength is their minor league pitching depth. They have a wealth of talented starters, and an incredibly impressive one in Ramirez, another talented arm from Texas who could be packaged and moved around the deadline if the Rangers are looking for some final pieces to complete their squad.
It seems like a pretty safe bet to assume that the Rangers will be in the playoff picture, meaning they can start building their roster. I doubt Ramirez, who has only 56.2 innings above Double-A, will be a part of their big-league plans, but he could certainly be a part of a package to bring a big-bat or maybe a solid starter to Arlington.
The Rangers have a ton of talented pitchers in their farm system, so a few guys like Robbie Erlin or Ramirez could be expendable.
It still burns me that the Orioles didn't fight harder to keep Loewen after he announced he was going to switch to hitting after suffering his second major elbow injury in two seasons. Part of it has to do with the fact that I genuinely liked him, and the rest of it has to do with the fact that the team shelled out $3.2 million to get him to sign, and it would have been nice to get a potential first baseman out of the deal.
It's not like he was going to give us any wins.
Loewen took up Toronto on their offer to let him start his career as a hitter in full-season ball, and he hasn't looked back, climbing all the way to Triple-A in just three seasons. This year, he's hit his stride, hitting .316 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI. He's only three homers shy of setting a new career-high, and despite his big strikeout numbers (73 in 250 at-bats), he's managed to maintain a respectable OBP of .378.
He's also put his hair-growing ability to some good use and manufactured one of the best, not to mention scariest, facial hair collections around.
Sadly, this might be as far as Loewen's feel-good story goes. The Blue Jays have a couple of guys capable of playing first base in the Majors, and at 6'6" and 235 pounds, he's not exactly quick enough to handle an outfield spot full-time.
The few seasons after Marrero was drafted out of high school by the Nationals in the 2006 draft were very promising.
He hit .309 with 16 RBI in 22 games in his Gulf Coast League debut before splitting time between Low and High-A ball in 2007, crushing 23 home runs and driving in 88 runs while maintaining a solid .275 average.
Then the injuries hit.
He missed almost half of the 2008 season with a random smattering of ailments, and when he returned to the field, it took him some time to find his swing again.
He had a solid campaign (.294, 18 HR, 82 RBI) in Double-A last season as a 21-year-old, showing poise beyond his years, and is in the midst of following that up with a strong campaign in his first attempt at Triple-A.
In 66 games, he's hitting .282 with eight home runs and 34 RBI. He's on pace for numbers similar to last year, and if he keeps it up, he could be looking at a late-season call-up to Washington.
Even if he plays well, though, the Nats are almost certainly going to be looking for an upgrade at first base in 2012, and with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder potentially on the market, Marrero might never get his shot.