The Topps Double-A All-Star team is a mix of young talent and veterans. Michael Taylor of the Reading Phillies was a hot commodity at the trading deadline in 2009. As a fan of Taylor’s, I was glad to see him still in the Phillies organization. However with John Mayberry Jr. ahead of him, Domonic Brown right behind him, Anthony Gose right behind that, and three All-Star outfielders in the big leagues, it probably would be best for Taylor to get traded to have a better opportunity to make the majors. As the Eastern League Rookie of the Year, Taylor hit .333 with 15 homeruns and 65 RBIs before his promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The fan favorite was returned to Reading during the playoffs. Taylor is continuing his progress in the Mexican League this winter; in 19 games he is hitting .308 with 11 RBIs.
His teammate in both Reading and in Mexico this season, Neil Sellers was a force batting behind Taylor in the lineup while with Reading and played a great third base. Sellers was also an Eastern League All-Star while hitting .317 with 17 homeruns and 86 RBIs. In Mexico, Sellers was hitting .371 though he hasn’t played in a game since early November. With an opening at third base and the Phillies looking for a high-priced option, I would like to see the Phillies give Sellers a chance to win the third base job.
Another Eastern League All-Star, though from the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Brian Dopirak was added to the Toronto Blue Jays’ 40-man roster last week. Many fans want to see Lyle Overbay and his $8 million contract traded to open the door for Dopirak. The former top prospect of the Chicago Cubs hit .308 with 19 homeruns and 68 RBIs before being promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He is also playing winter ball in Venezuela and in 35 games, he is hitting .270 with 7 homeruns and 35 RBIs. Dopirak, who can play first base, the outfield, and DH, will get a long shot in spring training.
The final Eastern League All-Star to make the Topps Double-A All-Star team was the Trenton Thunder’s Eduardo Nunez. The shortstop was just added to the NY Yankees 40-man roster and is known mostly for his bat; he hit .322 with 9 homeruns and 55 RBIs. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, as he made 30+ errors in Trenton in 2009. The poor defense will not have him moving All-Star and Gold Glove winning Derek Jeter to a new position anytime soon. If Nunez continues to rack up the errors in 2010, look for the Yankees to possibly move him to a new position.
Tyler Flowers was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Chicago White Sox for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan before the 2009 season. Blocked by catcher Brian McCann in Atlanta, Flowers has a better opportunity to take over the catching duties in Chicago in 2011 or before. In the Southern League with Birmingham, Flowers hit .302 with 13 homeruns and 43 RBIs before moving up to Triple-A Charlotte and getting a cup of coffee with the White Sox in September.
Travis Wood led all Double-A pitchers with a 1.21 ERA and he was also 9-3. Named the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher, Wood allowed just 78 hits in 119 innings pitched while striking out 103. Wood was just added to the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster.
Daniel Descalso, a second baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals, spent the 2009 season in Springfield and then Triple-A Memphis, before joining the USA Baseball team for the World Cup and helped the US to a gold medal. In Springfield, he hit .322 with 8 homeruns and 51 RBIs. The Cardinals always seem to be looking for middle infielders and Descalso could be the guy to move Skip Schumaker back out to left field.
Desmond Jennings finished in the top five in average (316), stolen bases (37), triples (8), on-base percentage (.395), and slugging percentage (.486) in being named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player. The Montgomery Biscuits outfielder also had a .996 fielding percentage, before being promoted to Triple-A Durham in August, where he continued his offensive production and hit over .300 in 32 games. Jennings also does not strike out a lot (67 BB/ 67 K). The speedy outfielder could push the Tampa Bay Rays outfielders sometime in 2010, especially if BJ Upton continues to struggle.
Chris Carter was named the Texas League Player of the Year while hitting .337 with 24 homeruns and 101 RBIs. Carter could be the answer for Oakland in 2010 for a power hitting first baseman since his trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The downside to Carter is the strikeouts that he collects each year (133 total and 27 in winter ball in 17 games).
As a Southern League All-Star, Ezequiel Carrera of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx led the league in hitting at .337. The Seattle Mariners newly acquired speedy outfielder from the NY Mets at the end of 2008 also does not strike out much (59 BB/ 62 K). Carrera could get a shot in 2010 with the Mariners or at least a September call up.