2010 impact rookies: Desmond Jennings

Beginning today I will be looking at various prospects who may be counted on to contribute in the major leagues next season.

First on my list is Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings. Jennings will turn 23 at the end of the month and is a phenomenal athlete. He originally signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Alabama before being selected in the 10th round of the 2006 draft. Jennings has plenty of speed to burn and has an 82 percent stolen base success rate over his minor league career.

Jennings projects as a plus defender in center field with good range and an above-average arm. He has shown the ability to hit for average (.305 lifetime average) and with his plate discipline (11.13 career walk percentage) he could develop into a productive leadoff hitter. Jennings makes consistent solid contact and has continually cut down his strikeout numbers. This season he walked as many times as he struck out (67) between Double-A and Triple-A. He possesses an incredibly quick bat although this doesn’t show in his power numbers. In 2009 however, Jennings posted a career best .169 ISO and belted 31 doubles, 10 triples, and 11 home runs all of which were career highs for him.

The knock on Jennings is that he is injury prone. In 2007 he had season ending knee surgery in August. Then in 2008 he was limited to just 24 games after aggravating his back and then undergoing shoulder surgery that would once again cost him the season. His inability to stay healthy had caused his stock to slide, but he rebounded with a strong, and perhaps more importantly, healthy 2009 campaign.

It will be interesting to see what Tampa Bay does this off-season. B.J. Upton is coming off a terrible year and is eligible for arbitration this season. Carl Crawford is also heading into the final year of his deal. The Rays could be looking to move one or both to free up salary and this would cut a clear path for Jennings to start. If Tampa is seriously considering moving either player, and reports indicate that they are, then they must believe that Desmond Jennings is ready to start in 2010.

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  1. DonCoburleone said...

    “If Tampa is seriously considering moving either player, and reports indicate that they are,then they must believe that Desmond Jennings is ready to start in 2010.”

    I was with you up until this last sentence. If Tampa had Yankee money or even Braves money they wouldn’t even be considering trading Upton or Crawford.  Whether they believe Jennings is ready to start in 2010 is about 5% of the equation, money is 95%.

  2. DonCoburleone said...

    Oh and do you think that maybe in the future when you do these you could put down a projection for the player for 2010?  Maybe like a “if he gets the starting job in April, I predict _____”. Or even a best case and worst case projection, i like those the best…

  3. Alex Pedicini said...

    I agree that money is a huge factor here but I still think Tampa would be hesitant to rush Jennings into the majors if they felt he wasn’t ready.

    I like your idea of adding a projection, I will add that in my future posts. Thanks

  4. Jim Kelly said...

    Statistically how do you think he’d match up (compare) with Rockies’ Dexter Fowler over their first 3 years as full time ML outfielders? Thanks.

  5. Alex Pedicini said...

    Fowler has a very similar skill set to Jennings so I think the comparison is appropriate.

    Fowler posted a .266/.363/.406 mark his rookie season and Jennings should hit for a similar mark. I think over the long haul we will see Fowler hit for more power, although Jennings should steal more bases and will likely be a better defender.

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