Using this preview: Some players will be spotlighted and there will be some knee-jerk rankings of each teams lineup, rotation and bullpen. Team previews, born from a desire to design a better cheat sheet, will start with the American League East and finish in the National League West. More previews here.
National League East
- Stud: Brian McCann, C– I’m not saying you should draft him — top line catchers are just too darned expensive — but he’s the best, question-free hitter the Bravos have.
- Bust: Derek Lowe, SP — Struggled for a while to come up with someone for this category, and not sure if Lowe’s the choice. He makes the list because he’s moving from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park. He’s also not a strikeout pitcher, so maybe several of those balls in play end up escaping for hits or going out of the park. He’s always been consistent though, and never an awful pick.
- Sleeper: Jeff Francoeur, OF — Well, he finally cut down on his strikeouts a little… And look what it did to his numbers. Let him swing away and he’ll get you a decent batting average, homers and some other numbers to go with his strikeouts.
- Prospect to watch: Tommy Hanson, SP — He’s their top prospect and everybody and their brother says he is. He’s got a golden arm and could find himself in Atlanta sometime this season.
- Wild Card: Kenshin Kawakami, SP — Another Japanese import that has vaulted deep into a Major League pitching staff. He’s currently listed at the No. 4 spot in the rotation. If he plays up to that level he’ll be a great steal late in drafts after the Braves other guys — Lowe, Javier Vazquez, who’s going to be a stud, and Jair Jurrjens — have been picked.
- Starter you may not know but should: Josh Anderson, OF — The current starting centerfielder, Anderson shouldn’t be confused with White Sox former blue-chip prospect Brian Anderson or Braves teammate Garrett Anderson. Josh Anderson has hit .315 in 204 career at-bats with 31 runs, 10 doubles, 23 RBIs and 11 steals. If he gets starter ABs he could be an Ichiro-lite, and he’s not being drafted, like, anywhere.
C– Chipper Jones is still producing after all of his former Braves stars of the 90s have faded away, McCann is a stud and Garrett Anderson is a consistent lock for his career numbers. If the other guys — like Francoeur, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar — pan out, this grade will be low. Some good hitters and several with upside here.
B — Again, this grade resides in the closed glove being held by Kawakami. If he tosses a lot of gopher balls, B is too high, if he’s lights out it’ll be right on.
C — Mike Gonzalez is a better than strikeout per inning guy and has saved 44 of 49 opportunities and has a 2.62 ERA. There are no other established closers, but Rafael Soriano is proven and Blaine Boyer and Manny Acosta have some talent. The fact they’ve got the following guys in the pen makes them a C and a half:
|Somebody get Ridgway some Funyuns, and would somebody get him a hat that fits.||Boone Logan, the man with two last names, and one ridiculous tuft of facial hair.|
|Jeff Ridgway||Boone Logan|