Friday, June 18, 2010

wait til next year

I'm no Chicago Cubs fan, but I kinda like 'em anyway. So in the spirit of that team whose favorite year is always next year, let's mark the conclusion of the 2010 baseball season with a look forward instead of backwards.

First, for reference, your nominal 2010 lineup:

1B John Hicks
2B Keith Werman
3B Steven Proscia
SS Tyler Cannon
LF Phil Gosselin
CF Jarrett Parker
RF Dan Grovatt
C Franco Valdes
DH John Barr

SP Danny Hultzen
SP Robert Morey
SP Cody Winiarski
SP Branden Kline

This year the Hoos were (in the spirit of the World Cup here) highly fancied as a contender since basically the entire lineup returned. Not so this year. Valdes and Cannon are seniors (and Cannon has already signed with Cleveland) and the Hoos also lose Neal Davis out of the bullpen. Worse, the MLB draft pretty much cratered most of the rest of the starting lineup. The list of draftees:

Jarrett Parker, 2nd round (74th overall) to the Giants
Phil Gosselin, 5th round (164th overall) to the Braves
Robert Morey, 5th round (167th overall) to the Marlins
Kevin Arico, 10th round (307th overall) to the Reds
Dan Grovatt, 11th round (327th overall) to the Pirates
Tyler Cannon, 12th round (360th overall) to the Indians
Tyler Wilson, 35th round (1057th overall) to the Reds
Kenny Swab, 35th round (1064th overall) to the Braves
Neal Davis, 36th round (1101st overall) to the Phillies

Big gap there. And above that line are three big bats and our Saturday starter. That's leave-early territory, especially Parker, Gosselin, and Morey. It might not be a total shock if Arico or Grovatt stuck around hoping for a big season; Arico, however, is currently the nation's saves leader (and will stay that way unless Arizona State and their 14-save closer wins the CWS in a fashion that causes all their fans to die of heart attack). Another season will not improve his stock - he's gone. Grovatt had a better season in 2009; it's possible he stays and tries to repeat his '09 numbers for a higher slot, but probably not.

The other players with decisions to make are Wilson and Swab. Wilson didn't get picked high because he's a reliever. College starters become relievers in the bigs, but it doesn't go the other way round. He probably won't get picked much higher than that if he sticks around, so don't be too shocked to see him take his chances while he's got an ounce of leverage.

Swab, on the other hand, looks like a lock to stay. Cannon was drafted in the 41st round last year, didn't go, and parlayed his senior season into a 12th round pick. Swab can go the same route; with Valdes graduating, a starting job awaits, be it 1B or catcher. (My money's on 1B with Hicks catching.)

The draft was relatively kind to our incoming freshman class. Justin Nicolino went in the 2nd round by the Blue Jays, may the salt of a thousand oceans cover their fields. Nicolino now plans to go pro. Tyler Skulina was taken in the 1300-somethingth slot, which is not going to cause him to skip college.

So that leaves this:

1B Kenny Swab?
2B Keith Werman
3B Steven Proscia
SS ??
LF ??
CF ??
RF Dan Grovatt
C John Hicks?
DH John Barr

SP Danny Hultzen
SP Branden Kline
SP Cody Winiarski

The weekend rotation should settle out nicely; likewise, the weekday starters shouldn't be hard to find. Will Roberts will probably be the top candidate for that job. Tyler Skulina could get some innings that way as well, as he tries to do as Kline did this year and pitch his way into the rotation. More of a mystery will be that outfield, and shortstop. Brian O'Connor will be looking for ways to get the bats of Reed Gragnani and Stephen Bruno in the lineup, and Bruno's played a little shortstop this year. He could slot there - all 5'9" of him - and give us the shortest middle infield in history. Gragnani did more DHing than anything this year and could be tougher to find a slot for, but expect him to be in the weekend starting lineup regardless.

Defensive considerations will come into play as well. Gosselin and Parker played error-free ball all year - that's indispensible, especially in center. Whatever happens to those two positions next year, it probably won't be an improvement over that.

The bullpen will be really interesting to watch. The closer is probably gone and Tyler Wilson might be too, but there are a ton of candidates that folks were eager to see and didn't get their fill of. Chad O'Connor, Scott Silverstein, Justin's a longish list of promising and mostly unproven arms. We'll see them get their shakes next season.

The players themselves aren't done playing baseball. You can't figure out next year's contributions without seeing how they'll do in their summer leagues. Here's the list, as comprehensive as I can figure:

Cape Cod:

Will Roberts - Bourne Braves
John Hicks - Harwich Mariners
Steven Proscia - Harwich Mariners
Tyler Wilson - Hyannis Harbor Hawks
Danny Hultzen - Hyannis Harbor Hawks

New England:

Chris Taylor - Newport Gulls
Branden Kline - Newport Gulls


Jared King - Waynesboro Generals
Colin Harrington - Waynesboro Generals

Coastal Plain:

David Coleman - Peninsula Pilots
Shane Halley - Peninsula Pilots
Chad O'Connor - Peninsula Pilots

Cal Ripken:

Rob Amaro - Youse's Orioles (get off me - the apostrophe is supposed to be there)

New York:

Aaron Stull - Oneonta Outlaws
Whit Mayberry - Oneonta Outlaws

That Tyler Wilson is signed up to play summer league ball isn't necessarily indicative of his plans as far as the minors go, but one can hope. Anyway, there you have it. Next year's early outlook probably doesn't involve 50 wins or 1 seed in the ACC tournament, but there's no reason this team shouldn't be in contention anyway. The achievable goal is to host another regional.

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