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In Some Depth: Redbird Rising?

Ryan Eisner

Ryan Eisner

Ryan has been writing for Rotowire since 2007. He currently writes about baseball and covers the White Sox.

Once again, we tour the depth charts from around the league. There's no theme this week, and hopefully all of the players are not as terrible as last week's edition.

Without any further ado...

Cardinals CF
Starter: Peter Bourjos
Next: Jon Jay
In the minors: Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras

It looked like the Cardinals pulled out a pretty good outfielder when they grabbed Peter Bourjos from the Angels in exchange for David Freese over the offseason. But maybe it was a bit much to expect Bourjos to jump right back into everyday duty after missing much of 2013 with injury. He only had eight hits in 50 April at-bats while ceding playing time to Jon Jay. But Randal Grichuk's demotion to the minors over the weekend portends well for Bourjos' playing time, as does the fact that his average is finally above the .200 mark. Bourjos still only has two stolen bases on the season, but a man with his wheels should quickly build on that number, assuming he can get on base consistently. If he can't get on base consistently, Oscar Taveras might be positioned to take over as the Cards' center fielder.

Braves 2B
Starter in name only: Dan Uggla
Next: Tyler Pastornicky, Ramiro Pena
In the minors: Tommy La Stella

The season is not even six weeks old, yet this is the second time I have featured the Braves' second base situation, and Dan Uggla's descent further into ineptitude, in In Some Depth. The curtain may finally be falling on Uggla's time as a regular second baseman. He did not start any of the three games in the team's recent series against the Cubs, and he has only started five of the club's last 12 contests. Neither Ramiro Pena nor Tyler Pastornicky have done much with the bat this season, but they present enough of an upgrade with the glove to take Uggla's power potential out of the lineup. All eyes are now on Tommy La Stella, who has a .379 OBP through 140 plate appearances at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Phillies 3B
Starter: Cody Asche
Next: Reid Brignac
In the minors: Maikel Franco

I focused last week on some of the weakest regulars in the league. Cody Asche and the rest of the Phillies' third base options did not make that list, but they may be in the next tier up. Asche busted out of one funk with a grand slam against the Blue Jays last week, but he has gone 2-for-16 since. His three home runs boost what would otherwise be a weak slash line, and two of those home runs were helped a bit by the short right field in Philly. Jayson Nix couldn't hack it in the Yankees' banged up infield, and apparently he will not cut it in the Phillies' either. The only other in-house option to play third is Reid Brignac, who arrived from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Brignac had a decent glove during his days with Tampa Bay, but he has only started four games at third base in his 296-game MLB career. Maikel Franco earned some looks from fantasy folks when he appeared on some preseason top-100 prospect lists, but his .638 OPS at Triple-A is not demanding an immediate callup.



Rangers 2B
Starter: Rougned Odor
Next: Luis Sardinas
Injured: Donnie Murphy, Jurickson Profar

Normally I would be all for going after the situation in which a team plugs in their top prospect when no other options are available. But I have my doubts about emptying the FAAB budget for Rougned Odor. Sure he is reportedly a mature hitter who slashed .325/.350/.481 over his final 77 at-bats at Double-A Frisco, but he's also a 20-year-old who has to adjust to life in the middle of a major league infield. He also isn't likely to play more than five games a week, with the also-fresh Luis Sardinas slated to receive spot duty at second. Sardinas could hang around when Profar returns from the DL in June, but it's conceivable both he and Odor get sent back to the minors.

Twins SS
In the mix: Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar
Next: Eduardo Nunez
In the minors: Pedro Florimon

Pedro Florimon got sent down to Triple-A Rochester after posting a -1 OPS+ for the Twins (ie: he was about 100 percent worse than the average player, after accounting for park, position, etc.). Eduardo Escobar was stealing Florimon's playing time prior to the demotion, but it has been the Danny Santana show at short since, thanks in part to an incredible 8-for-19 start. Santana is no Honus Wagner, but he did post an 83 percent contact rate last year for Double-A New Britain. It is not encouraging that he is still feeling the effects of a wrist surgery he had 18 months ago, but he should get the nod at short while the bat is hot. Eduardo Nunez has yet to play short since joining the Twins, but he may eventually slot here.

Rays C
Starter: Ryan Hanigan
Next: Jose Molina

Type "pitch framing" into your favorite Internet search engine, and you will find a bounty of articles extolling Jose Molina's ability to magically turn balls into strikes. Despite his poster boy status in pitch framing community, Molina has fallen behind Ryan Hanigan on the Rays' depth chart (Hanigan is also no slouch when it comes to moving the mitt). Hanigan has 25 starts to Molina's 13, and Molina has not started on back-to-back nights since mid-April. Molina appears to be David Price's personal catcher, but the scales have been tilting in Hanigan's favor on all other nights.

White Sox 3B
Starter: Conor Gillaspie
Next: Marcus Semien
Injured: Jeff Keppinger
In the minors: Matt Davidson

The Marcus Semien ride stops here. Semien took advantage of timely injuries to Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie to serve as an everyday infielder for the White Sox for the first month-plus of the season. However, Gillaspie returned late last week, and manager Robin Ventura had no issue with returning the starting third base job back to him. Gillaspie has hit third for the White Sox on occasion, but his .307 batting average should tumble as his .377 BABIP normalizes. Once the struggles do arrive, Semien should have a better shot at playing time (assuming he remains on the MLB roster). Meanwhile, Matt Davidson has a 41 percent strikeout rate through 117 plate appearances at Triple-A Charlotte, and he will not knock on the door until that rate drops by a meaningful amount.