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In Some Depth: This Bird Is Ready to Fly

Ryan Eisner

Ryan Eisner

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

It's finally the first week of June. That means teams are finally less timid about service time clocks and ready to start bringing up coveted prospects from the minors (it also means it's my birthday). Our first wave arrives this week, and the depth chart implications are discussed below (along with some other non-prospect-related action).

Without any further ado...

Cardinals RF
Starter: Oscar Taveras
Next: Jon Jay
In the infield for now: Allen Craig, Randal Grichuk

It seems like keeper league owners have been pining for Oscar Taveras to join the Cardinals' outfield ever since it was clear he was over last season's ankle ailment. Taveras made his MLB debut over the weekend after spending the past 16 months as a top-two prospect and proving himself as one of the more mature, accomplished hitters in the minor leagues. He gets this opportunity thanks to Allen Craig moving to the infield for a DL'd Matt Adams. Now that Taveras is up, he should stay up and enjoy an everyday spot in the middle of the Cardinals' lineup. This could be bad news for Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos once Craig is forced back to the outfield.

Astros 1B
Starter: Jonathan Singleton
Next: Chris Carter, Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss

After Taveras, the second-most anticipated prospect hitter has probably been Jonathan Singleton (or maybe third-most, after the Pirates' Gregory Polanco, but I digress). Singleton struggled a bit in 2013 after returning from a lengthy recreational drug-related suspension, but he was killing it to the tune of 24 extra-base hits and 42 walks through his first 195 at-bats of 2014. The Astros' willingness to sign Singleton to a long-term deal before he takes on major league at-bats signals they are not overly concerned about the behaviors that led to last season's suspension. More importantly, it means Singleton will be guaranteed the Astros' starting first base gig from Day 1. Marc Krauss and Jesus Guzman had served as the team's primary first basemen to this point. One of the two looks bound for a reserve corner role, while the other may not be long for the roster. Additionally, Chris Carter should clog the club's DH slot on a more consistent basis.

Braves 2B
Starter: Tommy La Stella
Next: Ramiro Pena, Tyler Pastornicky
Sad: Dan Uggla

Well it looks like the Braves are finally living in a post-Dan Uggla world. Tommy La Stella joined the Braves last week after OBP'ing .384 for Triple-A Gwinnett, and Uggla has not been seen in the starting lineup since. Uggla was already a frequent healthy scratch from the Braves' lineup, and he should be seen even more infrequently now that La Stella is in town. La Stella has been the anti-Uggla throughout his minor league career. He hardly strikes out (a nine percent K-rate), but he does not leave the yard frequently (just 21 home runs in 288 games). If La Stella struggles at the major league level, the Braves may be tempted to turn the position back over to a platoon of Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky.



Mets OF
Starters: Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Bobby Abreu
Next: Matt den Dekker, Eric Campbell
On the DL: Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares

The Cardinals, Astros, and Braves may be youth-ifying their squads with fresh recalls, but the Mets appear to be going in the opposite direction. Two players on the wrong side of 35 (Curtis Granderson and Bobby Abreu) are now manning the corners, while Eric Young Jr. and Juan Lagares are on the DL. Chris Young has fallen from regular action, but he seems like a logical fit to play center field for the immediate future with Young and Lagares out. The latter Young has four home runs and four steals on the season, but he has a sub-.300 OBP for the second consecutive season and has the worst OPS of his career (.643). Abreu has had an excellent first 50 at-bats (.897 OPS), and he has gone 9-for-21 over the past week while receiving a regular dose of playing time in left. He probably won't be able to serve that role in the long term given his age. Eric Campbell seems like a logical choice to get more reps in the corner if either Abreu or Granderson get hurt.

Jays CF
Starter: Anthony Gose
Next: Kevin Pillar
On the DL: Colby Rasmus

Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar have given the Blue Jays' lineup a speedy element to complement their middle-of-the-order mashers. The two have only combined for two steals (both from Gose) while filling in at center for the DL'd Colby Rasmus, but they add a different element on the basepaths than the rest of the Jays' order. Rasmus had nine home runs before hitting the disabled list, but he also had a 33 percent strikeout rate. Hence, there is some thought that he may not land his regular role once he returns, especially with Gose playing solid defense in center. The more likely scenario would probably be a platoon of sorts between Gose and Rasmus, assuming Gose is still hitting (something he has failed to do in previous MLB stints) when Rasmus returns.

Yankees 2B
Starter: Brian Roberts
Next: Kelly Johnson, Yangervis Solarte, Brendan Ryan

Brian Roberts is still healthy? His 161 at-bats through Sunday are a bit of a surprise given his struggles with staying on the field the past few seasons in Baltimore. Unfortunately, he is still a 36-year-old middle infielder with a poor track record of remaining healthy. It should surprise no one if he spends a spell or two on the disabled list at some point this season. His inevitable absence would allow one of the team's two third basemen (Yangervis Solarte or Kelly Johnson) to slide over to the other side of the infield.

Royals 3B
Starter: Mike Moustakas
Next: Pedro Ciriaco, Jimmy Paredes
On the DL: Danny Valencia

The Royals are going back to the Mike Moustakas well just 10 days after they demoted him to Triple-A Omaha. Of course, he had a very good 10 days at Omaha (.355/.412/.548 in 31 at-bats) and the Royals had to place would-be replacement Danny Valencia on the DL with soreness in his hand. His offensive outburst at Omaha was likely a nice confidence booster, but that does not necessarily mean he has corrected the flaws that contributed to his pre-demotion struggles. Still, as long as he is not the roster, the Royals would be foolish to start the likes of Pedro Ciriaco or Jimmy Paredes over him with any regularity.