12/14/21 : Center Field
Presumably there will be a “lockout ends” date and when that occurs the 2022 roster build will continue. Center Field is certainly one of the positions to be addressed. Internal candidates on the 40 man roster include Matt Vierling, Simon Muzziotti, Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak. Defensively Muzziotti, in my opinion, has an edge on the other three players - offensively Vierling is coming off the most productive season and has shown an ability to hit the ball hard consistently. I don’t discount Haseley or Moniak as viable options either, both have shown flashes in the minor leagues to be productive players. Another internal option might be Scott Kingery who is coming off a shoulder injury, he was in line for the job last spring before various set backs. I believe Johan Rojas will be in major league spring training camp, he has baseball tools that can allow him to become a special player. Johan is just 21 years of age and hasn’t played above A ball to date but he’s Rule 5 eligible after the 2022 season - this summer is a key one, there’s at the least a double A assignment at some point. Defensively he’s capable of playing very well in the major leagues right now.
If the club decides to look externally via trade here are a few names that perhaps you haven’t heard - minor leaguers or young major leaguers from other organizations that are also perhaps on the verge of becoming big league regulars.
Brandon Marsh - LA Angels - the 23 year old played in 70 games for the Angels in 2021 taking over the center field position after Mike Trout was placed on the disabled list. Marsh posted a .254 batting average and .317 OBP in 260 plate appearances. He had a solid month of August hitting .309. Defensively he displayed great speed and coverage in center field - nicknamed the “Caveman” for his long beard he seems ready to assume an everyday role but with Trout coming back to claim his spot Marsh is seemingly the odd man out.
Leody Taveras - Rangers - he’s also 23 years old yet has already accumulated 319 plate appearances in the major leagues in 82 games ( 2021 & 2022 ). Taveras has struggled offensively posting a .188 batting average and .249 OBP thus far. Scouting reports from the minor leagues indicate he’s a very good defender in center field with a plus plus arm. Taveras is a switch hitter and has shown a propensity for high level bat speed - it just hasn’t come to fruition in numbers yet but the ability is seemingly there.
Taylor Trammel - Mariners - 24 years old - has played in 51 MLB games ( 178 PA’s ) and has posted a .160 batting average and .256 OBP. He has great speed and has shown defensive ability to cover a lot of ground. The former first round draft choice of the Reds in 2016 ( supplemental round ) has been traded twice already ( Reds to Padres and Padres to Mariners ) - he’s had glowing scouting projections from some but has yet to produce consistent numbers to reflect the plus power and bat to ball skills that have shown in flashes.
Kyle Lewis - Mariners - 26 years old - won the 2020 AL rookie of the year award but was limited to 36 games ( 147 PA’s ) in 2021 due to knee injuries, he had surgery in June but is expected to be ready for 2022 spring training. He’s shown the ability to drive the baseball, great raw power. Defensively while he’s not a standout he’s more than capable of being an everyday center fielder - will make most plays.
Jarred Kelenic - Mariners - 22 years old - made his big league debut in 2021 - 93 games - 377 plate appearances - .181 batting average and .265 OBP. He’s noted as an above average defender with strong route skills and strong arm. Offensively he’s rated very highly for power, bat to ball skills and speed - projected by many as a middle of the order type. He was the Mets # 1 pick in the 2018 draft and was acquired by Seattle in the Robinson Cano trade. Seems to have big upside but lacks experience - only 30 games at the AAA level to date.
Estevan Florial - Yankees - 24 years old - has played in only 12 big league games going 7 for 23. He’s an outstanding defender with great ball hawking skills and a very strong arm. Has suffered thru injuries which have hampered his development. Great tools, we’ve seen him play a bit both with Somerset and Scranton against our teams. If the tools can be unlocked can be a very good player.
Riley Greene - Tigers - 21 years old - was Tigers # 1 draft choice in the 2019 draft - played at the AA/AAA level in 2021 and hit .301 with a .387 OBP in 124 games ( 40 at AAA ) with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs. He was scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League but suffered a concussion in his last game of the season at Toledo and was held out as a precaution. He’s got an outstanding arm and above average speed which should enable him to play defensively in center field. His calling card however is his offense, plus bat to ball skills, hard contact and balance from the left side of the plate. Still very young but seems ready for the challenge of big league baseball. Would be difficult to pry him away from the Tigers.
Brennen Davis - Cubs - 22 years old - played at three levels in 2021 hitting .260 with a .375 OBP overall in 99 games ( 350 AB’s ) including 15 games ( 56 AB’s ) at AAA Iowa. Has shown both quickness and arm strength to play any of the three outfield positions - heady player. Has plus speed and has shown the ability to drive the ball as a right handed hitter. Was the Cubs 2nd round draft choice in the 2018 draft. Seems ready to debut in the show in 2022.
Vidal Brujan - Rays - 23 years old - primarily a second baseman he was given a great deal of time in the outfield this past season at AAA Durham. In 103 games at Durham he hit .262 with a .345 OBP in 389 AB’s with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. He’s got outstanding speed and is a plus plus base stealer, also has shown the ability to drive the ball consistently. He’s been a very good infielder at both second base and shortstop - with the added action in the outfield he now compares to Ketel Marte in his defensive versatility.
Alek Thomas - Diamondbacks - 21 years old - hit .313 with a .394 OBP at the AA/AAA level in 2021 in 106 games - 435 AB’s - 34 games at AAA - 149 AB’s - .369 average and .434 OBP. Was Arizona’s 2nd round draft selection in the 2018 draft. He’s a smart player who is more of a line drive hitter than power bat but still projects to hit 12-15 taters per season in the show. Reportedly has a below average arm but plus speed, should enable him to stick in center field given baseball instincts.
Just some “on the verge” options inclusive of our own internal possibilities. When and if baseball resumes the off season 🤷♂️.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️