MLB Rumors: Hisashi Iwakuma and 10 Under-the-Radar Names Who Could Impact 2011
Every year after following all of the offseason trades, baseball fans and managers are always on the lookout for specific individuals who will wind up being impact players.
They could be prospects, rookies or even a player who has been seemingly on the slide the last couple of years but turn it around thanks to some new digs and a new approach in mechanics.
I'd like to take a look at some players who I feel could make an impact in 2011. As always, if there is a player who you think should be mentioned, leave a comment below, and perhaps why you feel they could be an impact player in 2011.
Morrison was another name in a long list of players that the Chicago White Sox were interested in, but inevitably never really followed through with talks regarding Morrison.
What’s more is that the Marlins believe if they retain Morrison, they can pencil him into the outfield and are confident he’ll get the job done.
Morison is a .292 hitter with exceptional power and the ability to be a legitimate base-stealing threat (something the Marlins desperately need with the exodus of Uggla and Maybin).
Speaking of Maybin, the San Diego Padres finally pulled the right trigger in acquiring Maybin from the Marlins, and his potential effect on the team could be huge.
The Padres were devoid of another quality power hitter with good fielding skills and potential as a base stealer, but have filled that hole with a very inexpensive option.
Between the minors and his stint with the Marlins he is a cumulative .306 hitter, and has the ability to be an X-factor in the Padres' quest for the postseason in 2011 after barely missing out this year.
One of the early big names making waves, Iwakuma is a highly sought-after pitcher said to be looking for a $15- to $20-million dollar contract.
Iwakuma has three years under his belt in Japan, a three-to-one K/BB ratio and exceptional command across the plate.
The Oakland Athletics won the rights to bid on him first. Both Seattle and Texas were reported to have also been interested, but nothing has really surfaced other than John Hickey of AOL FanHouse confirming that the Mariners scouted Iwakuma, but decided to pass.
Paul Janish will be retained by the Reds, and he will also be given a chance at competing for the everyday shortstop position in Cincy this year.
Last year, Janish hit .260 with a pedestrian five homers and 25 RBI in only 82 games—but when he was on, he was on.
The Reds showed glaring issues at shortstop towards the end of the season, and if Janish can be what the organization thinks he can be, the Reds immediately become that much more threatening in 2011.
There’s been a rumor building in the offseason regarding Dayan Viciedo and his chances of playing first base if the White Sox cannot retain Paul Konerko.
And while Viciedo has a quality bat (.308/.321/.519 last year with the White Sox with five HR and 13 RBI in 106 PA), the potential impact with this particular player could actually be negative.
Dayan Viciedo is considered not up to par with the hot corner, nor is he considered a top-notch defenseman, and trying to fill the shoes of Paul Konerko takes both offense and defense of the highest caliber.
If Dayan Viciedo can’t get the job done in spring training, perhaps Brent Morel can.
The Cardinals want to put a ton of emphasis on shortstop this year in regards to their defense, which took a severe hit with Skip Schumaker fielding the position.
Brendan Ryan, on the other hand, is one of the best defensive shortstops but doesn’t quite have the bat of Schumaker.
So what will they do?
The Cardinals are believed to try and deal either Schumaker or Ryan. But considering Ryan’s youth, he could wind up being the better candidate.
A rumor is a possible go at Arizona’s Stephen Drew, which means the Diamondbacks could win out on the deal and acquire a much-needed defenseman.
Kouzmanoff is in an interesting situation thanks largely to the A’s claiming Edwin Encarnacion off of waivers earlier this week.
Kouzmanoff has always been an average hitter (.258 lifetime) and a better-than-average third baseman, but he has also only played with the A’s and Padres as well as a short stint with Cleveland.
Kouzmanoff has also been a clutch player for the A’s, and with Encarnacion, Kouzmanoff—as a non-tender candidate—seems to be the odd man out.
He’ll come at a relatively cheap price, and perhaps a DH role is where he’ll best serve an interested team.
Not very many people know about the Blue Jays acquiring Rajai Davis from the A’s, and not very many people know what Davis brings to the table.
Last year, the Blue Jays didn’t always have that crucial run situation, thanks largely to being down in base running and not having a ton of runners in scoring position opportunities.
One way you fix that is by bringing in a fast base stealer who can also play small ball and hit.
Davis stole 50 bases in 61 tries last year and hit .284/.320/.377. He is a huge upgrade for the Blue Jays in the outfield, an upgrade they desperately needed.
Another of the Japanese darlings expected to attempt to find a home in the Americas is Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the power-hitting shortstop.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka is a career .287/.361/.427 hitter with 30 home runs, 130 RBI and 71 pilfered bases in his last three years.
There are a ton of teams looking for an upgrade at shortstop who they can hold onto in the future.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka has both aspects as a player, and is bound to be an impact player in 2011.
The Clemson standout is best known for taking a bat shard to the chest, cutting his 2010 debut short, but scouts all over also know Colvin as a multi-tooled hitter and fielder who can play outfield (his natural position) as well as first base.
Colvin has a much better shot at winning the job at first, and the 6’3’’, 210-pounder has enough defensive prowess to earn the everyday role, but what the Cubs are concerned with is his plate discipline.
From 2006 to 2008, his walk percentage as a minor leaguer was an average 4.68 percent, suggesting he will have to hit for a higher average if he is to make a dent in the Cubs offense.
As a major league player, he hit a seemingly pedestrian .254, but knocked in 20 homers and 56 RBI in only 394 plate appearances.
His 2010 OPS was an admirable .816 with only 30 walks, but he struck out an alarming 100 times, suggesting the eye isn’t quite there yet.
In the end though, Colvin has all the right tools to be the next great impact player of 2011 and the next impact Cubs player, if he can just get his swing perfected a little more.