This week we continue our look at the Impact Prospects for 2013 with an examination of the first base candidates.
While Jonathan Singleton’s suspension for marijuana use is disappointing and will delay his ascension to the Majors, I would not let it deter you at all from selecting the Astros' future first-sacker. The lefty really tapped into his power potential in 2012 with 21 dingers while continuing to show an advanced approach at the plate. And it was all done as a 20-year-old in Double-A. When the suspension is served, he’ll begin at Triple-A and could be up mid to late season depending on his progress and the production from Houston’s first base stop gaps.
The Pirates are entering 2013 with a possible platoon of on-base challenged Garrett Jones and 2012 disappointment Gaby Sanchez. While this platoon could end up being quite productive for the Buccos, journeyman Clint Robinson should not be ignored. The soon-to-be 28-year-old has mid-teens to twenty HR per season power and an advanced plate approach that should allow him to get on base and hit in the .270 to .280 range. The issue is opportunity. The most likely scenario has Robinson spending most of 2013 in Triple-A as roster filler.
Todd Helton is still the Rockies’ first baseman. However, the 39-year-old managed just 283 plate appearances in 2012 and is clearly in the twilight of his career. While Tyler Colvin might get the first opportunity to replace and/or platoon with Helton, Ryan Wheeler may be the name to watch. A third baseman, Wheeler’s path to the Majors will be through 1B given Nolan Arenado is also a Rockie. Wheeler is not a future star but could be a regular given modest plate discipline, a left-handed bat with consistent contact-making skills, and high-teens to low-twenties homer potential.
The Marlins may be without Logan Morrison to begin the season. Enter journeyman Joe Mahoney. The former Oriole is no great offensive force but may be a passable fill-in for NL-only leaguers. The lefty makes consistent contact but is not a huge threat in the power game, possessing only low to mid-teens home run potential.
Corey Hart could miss the first 3 to 4 months of the season. This provides an opportunity not only for Mat Gamel, who will get first crack at playing first base for the Brewers, but potentially for Hunter Morris too. Should Gamel be unable to rise to the challenge, the job could fall to the 24-year-old. A left-handed hitter, Morris is coming off of a 28-HR performance in Double-A where he batted .303/.356/.563. However, Morris is a rather aggressive hitter who may be overmatched against MLB pitching, lefties in particular. Still, he has some interesting potential as a platoon player or average regular.
Matt Adams has a MLB ready bat but no place to play. The 24-year-old has mid to upper twenties home run power and a good track record for making contact that could help him develop into at least a .260s hitter, if not better, in the Majors. Defensively, Adams is best suited for first base, where he is currently blocked by Allen Craig. An injury may have to happen for opportunity to occur.
Darin Ruf enjoyed a breakout season that included 41 homers between Double-A and the Majors in 2012. The 26-year-old has legitimate 20+ home run potential and a disciplined, hard-contact approach. The problem is positional. Ruf is a below average defender everywhere he plays, but has at least seen some time in left field and could push for playing time there should Domonic Brown fail to lay down a strong claim.
Chris McGuiness was selected by the Indians from the Rangers’ organization in the Rule-5 draft and must be kept on the MLB roster for the 2013 season or be offered back to the Rangers. The Indians do indeed have an opening at DH and McGuiness will receive an opportunity to lay claim to it. The 24-year-old has legitimate 20+ HR power and a well-disciplined approach that let him hit 23 homers in Double-A in 2012. He profiles as a .260s hitter at the MLB level.
The Astros snagged Nate Freiman from the Padres in the Rule-5 draft and are an organization in need of offense, especially with the suspension of Jonathan Singleton. A former 8th round pick, Freiman brings good contact making skills and 20+ HR potential. He could be a .270s or better hitter at the MLB level. He’ll compete against Brett Wallace and Carlos Pena for playing time but could end up the odd man out.
Possible MLB Phase/Auction Selections:
Joe Mahoney, Chris McGuiness, Nate Freiman
Possible Minor League Draft Phase Selections:
Jonathan Singleton, Darin Ruf, Ryan Wheeler, Matt Adams, Hunter Morris
Possible In-Season Pick-Ups: