One of the most exciting parts to Billy Eppler’s offseason has been his willingness to fill out the depth chart with fringe major leaguers. These are the guys that certainly have the talent to be major leaguers, but there’s just a thing or two holding them back. It makes them all likely destined to spend another year in AAA, but it also opens up the possibility for a late-career breakout. Let’s check in and see who Eppler traded us fans with this winter.
IF Colin Walsh – Strengths: Switch hitter. Great plate discipline, pretty decent pop. Can play anywhere on the infield and corner outfield. Weaknesses: Not the greatest hitter for average. Contact issues. Not a good defender anywhere. Lottery: A starting 2B/3B that gets on base 37% of the time. Current Value: Not only a utility infielder, but one that can get on base. Offers alternative to Kaleb Cowart.
IF Jose Miguel Fernandez – Strengths: Great plate discipline, good contact hitter, strong pull-power, can spray hits to all fields. Can play 1B, 2B and 3B. Strong record of success in Cuba. Just a strong offensive weapon. Weaknesses: 30 years old, not a great defender, and simply “ok” speed. Lottery: Starting infielder that hits .300 with 15 HR’s. Current Value: Legitimate offensive depth behind Ian Kindler at 2B and Luis Valbuena at 1B.
1B Chris Carter – Strengths: POWER! So much of it. Not bad at taking a walk and working the count either. Sufficient defensive first baseman. He’s a former HR King as well. Weaknesses: Hitting the ball. Atrocious contact rates. Defensively limited to first base. Will not hit for average. Lottery: .230/.330 and 40 HR’s. Current Value: If he’s hitting the ball, Luis Valbuena becomes expendable.
OF Jabari Blash – Strengths: POWER! Just an absolute physical specimen. He has the chance be a very good power hitter in the major leagues. Solid defensive corner outfielder. Has logged time with the Padres and the general belief is that he’s only an adjustment or two away from breaking out. Weaknesses: Contact issues. Likely will never hit for average. Despite size and athleticism, not a great runner. Lottery: Starting corner outfielder that hits .260 and 30 HR’s. Current Value: Depth with upside.
OF Rymer Liriano – Strengths: He can hit for average, power and is a good baserunner. A solid all around game. Good defender in the corners and an adequate defender in centerfield. Still relatively young, entering his age 26 season. Former top 100 prospect. Weaknesses: Has not been able to put it together the major leagues to this point. Had a poor season in AAA last year with the White Sox. Lottery: .280 15 HR 20 SB corner outfielder. Current Value: The same as Blash. Depth with some upside to it.
LHP John Lamb (technically acquired a year ago, but was recovering from back surgery last season). Strengths – Left handed, firm, mid-90’s fastball and a great curve. Can pitch in a starting or relief role. Great golden locks! Former Top 100 prospect. Weaknesses: Back injuries are pretty serious. Lamb doesn’t miss bats as much as he did before. He looks a little like a drug dealer. Lottery: Mid-rotation left handed starter or an effective lefty specialist in the bullpen. Current Value: Lamb is the first line of defense in the event that Jose Alvarez can’t figure it out in the bullpen.
LHP Ian Krol – Strengths: Good mid-90’s fastball, left handed. Has had major league success before. Solid beard. Weaknesses: Success in the major leagues happened two years ago. Last year was pretty rough. Looks like he may have bought some pot from John Lamb. Lottery: A very effective middle reliever. Current Value: Insurance for Jose Alvarez.
RHP Luke Bard – Strengths: Good mid-90’s fastball and excellent slider. Great command of his pitches. Lots of success in high minors last year. Former first round pick. MLB bloodlines. Weaknesses: Spotty injury history throughout the minors. He’s a Rule 5 pick, so the Angels either have to keep him or lose him. Can’t be optioned to AAA. Lottery: Could be a legitimate closer option, or can prove his health and be stretched back out into a starter later on. Current Value: One of many intriguing relief options.