Five Players To Watch

A couple weeks ago, I noted five players to watch for June - Reggie Ambercrombie, Mike Aviles, Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits and Jordan Schafer - and asked which would have the most value this month.  With eight days to go, Aviles has clearly been the best with a 344/369/656 slash stat line this month.

Here are five more players to watch for 2008 and 2009.

C Max Ramirez Texas Rangers:  With a hamstring injury sending starting catcher Gerald Laird to the D.L., the Rangers awarded one of their best hitting propsects with a call to the majors.  After a 363/457/662 slash stat line, Max Ramirez immediately becomes one of the best #2 catchers in AL-Only formats based on the hope he gets catcher-eligibility for 2009.

2B Jeff Baker Colorado Rockies: I was this close to cutting Baker from my NL-Only team when he was nuclear in June to the tune of 5 HRs, a SB and a slashstat line of 409/438/864.  He is already 2B-eligible for 2009 so taking a flyer on him in keeper leagues doesn't carry the risk he won't be eligible at a more offensively-shallow position.  (Unlike Max Ramirez who carries the risk of not appearing in enough games at catcher like Jeff Clement did in 2007.)

2B/OF Eric Patterson Chicago Cubs:  The Cubs recalled Patterson when Carlos Zambrano went on the D.L.  Normally, I would have written Patterson off as a non-entity on Lou Piniella's veteran-focused Cubs team, but Sweet Lou said something interesting the last time Patterson was returned to AAA.  He said Patterson deserved to be playing.  This led me to put him back on a Player-To-Watch list.

A 25-year-old 2B slugging .519 in AAA has nothing left to prove.  If anything, the Cubs need to showcase Eric Patterson for potential trades.  With playing time, I can see Patterson providing Kelly Johnson-like production.

2B Travis Denker San Francisco Giants:  I have had Denker in the back of mind ever since he was rated the 4th best propsect in baseball by Dave Luciani of Baseball Notebook.  With Ray Durham eventually giving way to a younger player, Denker has to be watched.  He has the pop and on-base skills to contribute on a rebuilding team.

From Baseball Notebook's 2005 Top 100 Propsects:

He's almost certainly the least known of the top listed prospects. A late selection (round 21) of the Dodgers in the 2003 draft, I've often heard Denker compared to Marcus Giles, probably because they're both small guys with good power upside. He produces an incredible amount of power for someone so small and his walk rates, when considered in combination with age, are extraordinarily good. He's up to six years away from being an impact player in the big leagues but years from now, I suspect people will be looking back at him as a player that was unfairly ignored because he was small by baseball standards.

LHP David Price Tampa Bay Rays:  After scaring fantasy drafters with an Spring Training elbow injury, Price has returned with a vengence to dominate High A to the tune of 37 Ks in 34.2 innings with seven walks and a 1.82 ERA.  Now that he is in Double-A, he becomes the next great propsect that fantasy leaguers preserve their #1 waiver priority for.

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