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In Some Depth: The Kid Is Alright

Ryan Eisner

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

So there was a fairly significant trade over the weekend, and two other trades of somewhat less repute. I did not discuss any of the three key players in last week's trade market column. But I did mention the Diamondbacks and Cubs as likely sellers, so there is a very minor victory.

This week, we return to our normal tour of the league's depth charts.

Without any further ado...

Astros SS

Starter: Marwin Gonzalez
Next: Enrique Hernandez
In the minors (and now hurt): Jonathan Villar

Marwin Gonzalez had been sapping Jonathan Villar's playing time against right-handed starting pitching for much of June, and his annexation became complete when the Astros optioned Villar to Triple-A Oklahoma City at the end of the month. Gonzalez has been nothing special (he has a 109 OPS+ through 128 plate appearances), but Villar had been exceptionally bad. Villar stole 14 bases at a 78 percent clip, but he could hardly get on base and struck out at a 28 percent clip. He pieced together a solid first week back at OKC, but he did not play Sunday after he exited Saturday's game with a rolled ankle. Enrique Hernandez should replace Gonzalez against left-handed starting pitching, but he is not due for much playing time outside of that.

White Sox DH

Starter: Adam Dunn
Next: Paul Konerko, Jose Abreu

Designated hitter situations generally do not garner much attention in In Some Depth, either because the spot is a dumping ground for an extraneous player in a platoon or the team has a dedicated guy who plays there every day. The White Sox employed the latter method with Adam Dunn for much of the current season, but they have pulled the plug on him against left-handed starting pitchers. Dunn has not served as the team's DH against a lefty since April 20, ceding those games to Paul Konerko or Jose Abreu (with Konerko at first). The limited exposure to lefties has boosted Dunn's numbers, but it means his fantasy owners need to be vigilant about the week's opposing pitchers. Dunn is also in a contract year, and he could be targeted by a contender in need of a left-handed power bat off the bench. If he does depart, it will be interesting to see if the Sox allow Konerko to DH every day, or if they cycle between him and guys like Dayan Viciedo.

Braves C

Starter: Christian Bethancourt
Next: Gerald Laird
On the DL: Evan Gattis

Christian Bethancourt has leapfrogged Gerald Laird since taking the DL'd Evan Gattis' roster spot a week ago. Bethancourt had a good first week in the big leagues, but he is a receiver first, a thrower second, and a batter third. He has a lifetime .300 OBP in the minors, and his 12 home runs in 2013 were out of line with his production to that point (and his production to this point of 2014). Gattis is due back some time after the All-Star break, but the Braves have yet to formulate any sort of firm timeline. They might also take it easy on him to avoid further aggravation. He is their best hitter by OPS+ (his 145 barely edges Freddie Freeman's 144), so they could use him in the lineup, be it behind the plate, at third, or in the outfield. Ryan Doumit is still on the roster, but he has not been behind the plate since April 10.

Nationals 2B

Starter: Anthony Rendon
Next: Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen

A full outfield in Washington has pushed Ryan Zimmerman back to third base and Anthony Rendon back to second. Espinosa is still on the bench and was supposed to start against left-handed starting pitchers, but he sat against two lefties last week. Espinosa hit .211/.278/.341 with 88 strikeouts and a below-average glove in his 61 games as the team's starter, so it is likely not that difficult to keep him on the bench. Rendon's bat does not appear to be affected much by the return to his home position, as he slashed .292/.346/.500 in his first 24 at-bats back.

Cubs 2B

Starter: Darwin Barney
Next: Luis Valbuena, Emilio Bonifacio
In the minors: Arismendy Alcantara

The Cubs are now ridiculously deep in middle infield prospects after their trade over the weekend with the A's, and one has to be on the way based on the sheer fact that the Cubs are running out of places to play these guys in the minors. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Arismendy Alcantara's name has come up a lot lately thanks to his .892 OPS in his first shot at Triple-A Iowa, including a .348/.399/.541 line since the start of June. There are talks about moving him to the outfield, but it would not be unreasonable to expect him to stick at the keystone given the season Darwin Barney is experiencing. Barney's bat was once palatable, but he has a 65 OPS+ over the past three seasons, and his glove has been a bit blockier this year than in years past. He, along with fellow sometimes-second basemen Luis Valbuena and Emilio Bonifacio, could be gone by the end of the month.

Diamondbacks LF

Starter: David Peralta
Next: Cody Ross, Roger Kieschnick, Nick Evans, Martin Prado

Rookie David Peralta is the latest breakout outfielder in Arizona, and he has taken over in a crowded left field situation. He has a 119 OPS+ through his first 100+ MLB at-bats, and he has proven capable of playing all three outfield positions. Not bad for a guy who had been playing in independent ball until 2013 and had all of 442 at-bats in MLB-affiliated ball before his June 1 call-up. There is no reason for the Diamondbacks to not play him as much as possible moving forward. Cody Ross is owed a hefty sum over the next season and a half, but the Diamondbacks have not been afraid to use him sparingly.

A's 1B

Starters: Nate Freiman, Brandon Moss
Next: Alberto Callaspo, Stephen Vogt
On the DL: Kyle Blanks

Freiman earned a spot on the A's roster when Josh Reddick (knee) went on the disabled list in the final days of June, and he has seen a fair share of playing time at first base with Brandon Moss frequently moving to right field to cover for the aforementioned Reddick. Freiman has started five of the A's eight games since he re-joined the club on June 29, and the trend should continue with Moss and Stephen Vogt frequently needed on other parts of the field. Kyle Blanks (calf) only made a dozen starts for the A's before heading to the DL for an extended period of time. Freiman is probably best well known for being one of the tallest position players in baseball, and he was slugging nearly .500 at Triple-A Sacramento before he got the call.

Yankees 3B

Starters: Zelous Wheeler, Kelly Johnson
Next: Brendan Ryan
In the minors: Yangervis Solarte

The feel-good story of Yangervis Solarte came to an end this past week when the Yankees optioned him to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre after Wednesday's game. Zelous Wheeler arrived in his place. Wheeler was last mentioned in In Some Depth in June 2011. He has since been jettisoned by two organizations before making his debut as a 27-year-old rookie last week. He showed little power and little speed in the minors, but he did get on base at a .366 clip over 3,371 career minor league plate appearances. The Yankees clearly have their eyes on the playoffs, as evidenced by their acquisition of Brandon McCarthy over the weekend, and it should not be a surprise if they decide to add new blood to the mix here. Also, Kelly Johnson has been far from good this season, with an 84 OPS+ through 65 games.