Another week, another In Some Depth. This is the week I finally had to tell my version of Microsoft Word to add "d'Arnaud" and "Bogaerts" to its SpellCheck dictionary. The influx of young talent continues to alter depth charts for both teams contending for 2013, and teams who will probably not contend until 2015.
Without any further ado...
Red Sox SS and 3B
Starter: Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks
Next: Xander Bogaerts
Remember back in March when your auction invariably saw sub-Triple-A talents like Billy Hamilton, Xander Bogaerts and Oscar Taveras. Several months later, Bogaerts finally received the call from the Red Sox early Monday morning. Many speculated earlier in the month that the Red Sox would give Bogearts the Manny Machado treatment by shifting the minor league shortstop to third base to address a major league need. However, Will Middlebrooks has not been terrible since the Red Sox brought him back from Triple-A on August 10. It is only an eight-game sample, but he has a hit in each of those eight games and carried a .548 OBP. That certainly is not sustainable, but it would also be difficult to bench that in favor of a player without a single major league at-bat (Bogaerts). Instead, Bogaerts will most likely serve as the team's primary reserve at both third and short. The team lacks a true utility guy since they demoted Brock Holt to Triple-A to accommodate Bogaerts, so Bogaerts could see a handful of starts per week when either Middlebrooks or starting shortstop Stephen Drew need a rest. Bogaerts could additionally see starts at short against left-handed starting pitching. Drew may have a healthy .276/.360/.449 slash line since the break, but he still carries a not-so-healthy .195 batting average split against left-handed pitchers. Conversely, Bogaerts has a .407 OBP against lefties this season, albeit in Double- and Triple-A.
Starter: Curtis Granderson
Next: Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Reynolds, Vernon Wells
Injured: Travis Hafner
Alex Rodriguez was projected to occupy an everyday DH role this season, but he has been able to play third base for 10 of his 12 games thus far in 2013. That has allowed the Yankees to use the slot as a dumping ground for their sudden surplus of outfielders. After being forced to trot out the likes of Zoilo Almonte, Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch into the outfield earlier this season, the Yankees now have too many men to occupy the outfield now that Curtis Granderson is finally back from the disabled list and Alfonso Soriano is hitting like it's 2004. The available DH slot has allowed manager Joe Girardi to start Soriano, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki on the field on a nightly basis, while keeping the perhaps less-than-100-percent (?) Curtis Granderson at the DH position most nights. Travis Hafner has yet to pick up a bat since he hit the disabled list in late July, and Mark Reynolds has started once since deciding to don pinstripes late last week.
Starter: Martin Prado
Next: Matt Davidson
Martin Prado entered the season with the reputation of being something of a defensive jigsaw (a grinder, if you will), but he has played 67 percent of his innings this season at third base, and he has started there for 65 percent of the Diamondbacks' games. His bat has also come around. After hitting .217 in April and .209 in June, Prado owns a .373 average through 15 August games, and his cumulative OPS+ is at a slightly-above-average 103. That means there isn't a whole lot of room for playing time for the freshly-recalled Matt Davidson. Davidson was a consistent hitter in the minors, posting OPS's of .830 or better each of the last three seasons, but manager Kirk Gibson said he will continue to hit behind Prado for as long as the Diamondbacks are in contention for a playoff spot. Entering Monday, they sat 7.5 games back of the NL West leading Dodgers, but they were five games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card slot. Their remaining 40 games are against opponents with a combined winning percentage under .500, so they could be in the thick of that Wild Card race into September. That means limited at-bats for Davidson unless and outfield injury pulls Prado away. Davidson may also see some time backing up Paul Goldschmidt at first. That is not that exciting when you consider Goldschmidt has missed one game all season.
In the Mix: Khris Davis, Logan Schafer
Next: Sean Halton
Last week here at In Some Depth, it was Caleb Gindl seeing the majority of playing time in left for the Brewers, this time, it's Khris Davis. The Brewers surprisingly optioned Gindl to Triple-A Nashville at the beginning of last week to make room on the roster for Aramis Ramirez. At the same time, Carlos Gomez hit the shelf with a knee injury, which opened up left for Davis. Davis has gone 6-for-11 with two home runs in the first four games of his tenure in left, which may make it difficult for the Brewers to shift Logan Schafer back there once Gomez returns. Unlike many other minor league mashers, Davis has shown decent plate discipline coming up through the Brewers' system, tallying a .392 OBP and a 12.7 percent walk rate through 1,700+ plate appearances. He could see the majority of at-bats here down the stretch, with Logan Schafer coming off the bench against tough right-handed pitchers or when the Brewers throw out flyball pitchers like Tyler Thornburg and Marco Estrada.
Starter: Jose Tabata
Next: Garrett Jones, Josh Harrison
It looks like Jose Tabata has won a war of attrition in Pittsburgh. A quick glance at the depth chart reveals only he and frequent infielders Garrett Jones and Josh Harrison occupy the once-crowded right field. Tabata has helped his cause by slashing .333/.404/.571 in August, a month in which he has more walks (five) than strikeouts (four). Outside Tabata's recent warm bat, former right fielders Alex Presley and Andrew Lambo both currently call Triple-A Indianapolis home, diminishing the number of options available to threaten Tabata's starts. Lambo has 31 home runs between Double- and Triple-A this season, but he only managed one hit in four games with the Pirates. Both men should be back in the majors when rosters expand in September, but Tabata could have a near-monopoly on right field starts by then if he continues to hit.
Cardinals 2B and 3B
Starters: Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter
Next: David Freese, Daniel Descalso
How quickly we forget about David Freese and his 2011 postseason. Then again, it is not that hard to forget about a corner infielder with a .380 slugging percentage. The Cardinals called up top infield prospect Kolten Wong this past week, and while they refrained to anoint him the starting second baseman, it was quite telling that he started two of three games against the Cubs while Freese sat so Matt Carpenter could play third. Wong has yet to notch a hit through eight major league plate appearances, but he was a good contact hitter in the minors who rarely struck out (he had 13 percent K-rate at Triple-A Memphis this season), so the hits should fall eventually. Carpenter, who entered play Monday leading the NL in hits (149), runs (91) and doubles (41), should not be too fazed by bouncing between second and third. He has an .850 OPS while playing third this season (versus .857 at second), and he spent much of his MLB career bouncing around the infield.
In the mix: Travis d'Arnaud, John Buck
The Mets used John Buck's placement on the paternity list to recall Travis d'Arnaud – the man who was the centerpiece of last offseason's R.A. Dickey trade. Some of the luster may have faded from d'Arnaud's prospect star after he broke his foot in mid-April, but he hit .304/.415/.536 across three minor league levels since returning from the foot injury in late July. It appears the Mets seem intent on keeping d'Arnaud around once Buck returns from his freshly-expanded family, and they would not do so unless they were set on giving him playing time. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports d'Arnaud will likely see four or five starts per week, and that number could grow in September as he moves further from his foot injury and the Mets focus more on 2014. Current No. 2 catcher Anthony Recker should not be long for the roster
Starter: L.J. Hoes
Next: Brandon Barnes, Marc Krauss
Ludacris/Nate Dogg jokes aside, L.J. Hoes has done pretty well since the Orioles traded him to the Astros for Bud Norris. Exclude his 0-for-5 Astro debut (which was the same day he changed uniforms), and he has slashed .365/.386/.545 with six extra-base hits in 55 at-bats for his new club. He demonstrated good on-base ability in the minors, as his .372 OBP at Double- and Triple-A in 2012 was bested by a .406 at Triple-A in 2013. While Hoes' power will likely subside, he will likely hit/get on base at a sufficient pace to crowd out Marc Krauss' playing time. George Springer and his 1.023 OPS in the minors should be in Houston at some point this season, but Hoes could co-exist in an outfield with the team's most MLB-ready prospect.
White Sox RF
Starter: Avisail Garcia
Next: Jordan Danks
Avisail Garcia, who the White Sox netted in the Jake Peavy trade, has been the White Sox's everyday right fielder since they traded Alex Rios to Texas. He has looked good in his first 10-ish days on the job, getting on base in 35 percent of his 40 plate appearances and notching four extra-base hits. He could hit a few home runs out of U.S. Cellular Field the rest of the way, but it is worth remembering he is the second-youngest player in the AL (he is three weeks older than Manny Machado). Playing time should be plentiful down the stretch, as the team has few good options in right. Even when rosters expand in September, the incoming outfielders should be more of the "organizational filler" variety than players set to audition for a role in 2014.