Saturday, March 31, 2012

Potential Opening Day Starters for the AL

By Corey R. Cunningham

Cleveland Indians 3B Opening Day spot should belong to Lonnie Chisenhall. Lonnie played in 66 games for the Tribe in 2011. He hit .255 with 7 HR, 22 RBI, 27 R, and 1 SB. Chisenhall was picked 29th overall in the 2008 draft by the Indians, and flew through the minor leagues. In a full season at AA Akron in 2010 Chisenhall hit .278, 17 HR, 84 RBI.

Cleveland Indians 2B Jason Kipnis will have the right side of the 2nd base bag to himself. Kipnis does have power, and I believe he can hit 20-25 HR during this prime. If Asdrubal Cabrera stays in Cleveland, they will have a nice double play duo. Kipnis played in just 36 games in 2011 for the tribe, but did manage some nice offensive production. In 136 AB he had 7 HR, 19 RBI, 24 R and 5 SB, while hitting .272.

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, earned big payday recently and will need to prove himself for earning his contract. Perez spent his first 3 seasons of the minor leagues in rookie ball. He doesn’t have much pop to his bat, but he does hit for contact, and the Royals like to hit for contact, and there prospects now are coming around bringing power to the contact city. Perez batted .306, 64 RBI, 123 H, .762 OPS, and 45 K in 402 AB during the 3 seasons of rookie ball.  In 2010 Perez was promoted to High-A Wilmington, he caught in 85 of the 99 games he played in. Perez once again put up solid contact numbers, and just a tad bit of power hitting 7 HR. He had one complete season of High-A Wilmington where his numbers looked like this: .290 BA, 106 H, 365 AB, 22 EBH, 18 BB, 38 K, and OPS of .732.In 2011 Perez split time between AA Northwest Arkansas, and AAA Omaha, although ¾ of his games were in AA. Perez caught in 88 out of 91 games during his AA and AAA stint. Perez put up solid numbers while in AA, .283 BA, 81 H, 286 AB, 9 HR, 14 EBH, .756 OPS. This was one of his better seasons with the limited number of ABs he received, and I believe this may have been when the Royals realized they needed to lock Perez up to a long term contract. Though Perez has more of a defensive upside to him, rather than offensive, he will still be targeted during draft day, however, not in the minor league drafts, as he has MLB experience. Perez played in 39 MLB games, with a line of .331 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 20 R. Although he has no speed he will certainly score runs in the lineup that is coming very alive.

Oakland A’s will more than likely have two SP on their opening day roster of RHP Brad Peacock, and RHP Jarrod Parker. Peacock was drafted in the 41st round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft. His most notable years in the minor leagues were this past year, while splitting between AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse. In a combined year he went 15-3, with a 2.39 ERA. Brad had a total of 177/K with a K/9 ratio of 10.9, pitching in a total of 146 IP. Making two starting appearances and one relieving appearances in 2011 with the Nationals he had an overall record of 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 4/K, and 6/BB. In 12 IP, he allowed 7/H, however in his two starts he pitched five innings plus, allowing only 3/H, however, in his 1.1 IP of relief he allowed 4/H, with 1 ER allowed, with earning the BS.

Jarrod was drafted 9th overall in 2007 by the Arizona Diamondbacks before getting traded to Oakland this off season for Cahill. In his first full season in 2008 Parker went 12-5, striking out 117 batters in just 117 IP. Out of 113 Hits Parker allowed in 08’, he managed to just give up 8 HR. Before undergoing surgery in 09’ he managed to pitch a combined 20 games for High-A and AA. His totals for the 2009 season were 5-6, with a 3.14 ERA. Parker allowed 94 hits in 97 IP, and striking out 95. In 2011 Parker was brought up to the MLB and pitched for the Diamondbacks including the playoffs. He made a total of 6 innings pitched of work, with a 0.00 ERA. He gave up 6 total hits, allowing 1 ER, 2 BB and 1 K. This was just the start for Parker and perhaps a trade show for the Diamondbacks. If parker can live up to his potential, the A’s made and even swap, or perhaps upgraded from Cahill. If Parker makes the MLB starting rotation roster, I am not sure what to project for his shoulder issues. However, I will project full season stats for Parker as a starter: 10-10 4.50 ERA, 101 K

Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero will see sometime behind the plate, however, more than likely will get used as the DH for majority of the season. In 2009 Montero split the season between Tampa and Trenton, combining for 379 plate appearances. He combined for a total of 117 hits, 70 RBI, 26 extra base hits, while batting .337. In 2010 Montero was promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He batter for a .289 BA, 131 hits, with 37 of those being extra base hits, hitting 21 HR and batting in 75 RBI. He continued to stay in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011 averaging the same numbers with a line of, .288 BA, 121 H, 20 extra base hits and 18 HR. Montero played 14 games fewer in 11’ than in 10’.  I would prefer to see Montero bat cleanup behind Justin Smoak.

It should be noted that Perez underwent minor surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He is expected out 12-14 weeks. Peacock was sent back down to AAA earlier this week but should be the first call up to Oakland’s rotation.

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