27 October 2009
After starting Orlando Hudson in 2008 and Felipe Lopez in 2009, the Diamondbacks will be looking for another 2B in 2010. Although a free agent is certainly possible, there are three internal candidates for the job - Tony Abreu, Ryan Roberts, and Rusty Ryal (sorry Augie Ojeda). After the Lopez trade, both Roberts and Ryal hit surprisingly well for the D'Backs, while Abreu had an outstanding offensive season in AAA for the Dodgers. Let's take a closer look at the three.
Stats: Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage, HR, RBI, R, SB/CS, BB/K
Ryan Roberts (28)
2009: (AZ) 351 PA - 279/367/416, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 41 R, 7/3 SB, 40 BB/55K
2008 (AAA): 300/388/464, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 71 R, 15/3 SB, 67 BB/78K
2007 (AAA): 249/355/409, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 46 R, 1/2 SB, 55 BB/85K
Roberts is a useful player to have on a roster, because he can play virtually anywhere in the infield or outfield. In 2008, he even caught twice for AAA Syracuse. He had been primarily a utility player, but at the age of 28, Roberts became the primary 2B after the Lopez trade, and continued to show good contact, walk rate, and gap power. He may have had the inside track for the starting job in 2010 until the last month of the season, when he faded to .232/.300/.329 after September 1st. Even if he's not the starter, Roberts' versatility should keep him on the major league roster in 2010.
Rusty Ryal (26)
2009: (AZ) 68 PA - 271/353/593, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R, 0/0 SB, 6 BB/21 K
2009 (AAA): 290/347/527, 17 HR, 70 RBI, 65 R, 5/3 SB, 33 BB/94 K
2008 (AA): 274/334/443, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 65 R, 4/3 SB, 35 BB/96 K
2007 (A/AA): 277/331/462, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 64 R, 6/7 SB, 24 BB/89K
Ryal showed good power in AAA in 2008, and continued in the Majors with 11 extra base hits after his call up. On the down side, Ryal's been striking out three times for every walk, and his batting average is a little low for the PCL. Ryal's 2009 AAA stats translate to only .227/.283/.429 in the majors. Defensively he has questionable range and an average arm at best. He's planning to play the outfield in Winter Ball this year to increase his versatility. He'll be 27 next year, and hits lefties well, but looks to be a utility player at best.
Tony Abreu (24)
2009 (AAA): 353/385/615, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 47 R, 3/3 SB, 13 BB/49K
2008 Missed due to injury
2007 (AAA): 355/399/517, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 48 R, 5/0 SB, 14 BB/34 K
2007 (LA): 178 PA - 271/309/404, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 19 R, 0/0 SB, 7 BB/21K
Of the three candidates, Tony Abreu is the youngest, and has the best minor league track record. Abreu came to the D'Backs in the Jon Garland trade. He has missed a lot of time over the last few years with a variety of injuries (hip, groin, hernia surgery) but when he has played, he has hit. His AAA line in Albuquerque translates to .282/.315/.518 in the majors, and his batting stroke should work well in Arizona. The walk rate is a little low, and he's not really a base stealing threat, but offensively, he should hit for a good batting average with decent power. Defensively, Abreu should be above-average, with a strong arm and good range. In addition to 2B, he also played 7 games at SS last year and has played extensively at 3B in both the majors and AAA.
Most likely, spring training results will play a factor in determining the starting 2B for the D'Backs in 2010. But of the three candidates, Tony Abreu is the youngest, the best defender, and has the better minor league hitting resume. He should be the starter in 2010.