The 2009 minor league free agent list is littered with former top prospects and number one picks. Some of these names should sound familiar; Josh Barfield, , Chad Cordero, Eric Duncan, Clint Everts, Ryan Harvey, Dallas McPherson, Greg Miller and several notable others are all free agents this year. As Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs pointed out, even former top catching prospect Ben Davis is back, this time as a knuckleball pitcher.
I will be keeping my eye on several players in particular, which I have listed below alphabetically.
Adams was a first round pick of the Blue Jays back in 2002. In parts of seven minor league seasons the middle infielder has hit .277/.354/.401. He also has over a full season’s worth of major league plate appearances with 993 and has posted a measly .302 wOBA, although in he has been plagued by a low BABIP of .268. His defense is slightly below average at shortstop and he will likely never develop into an everyday player but there is still time for him to emerge as a valuable utility man.
Burke has his fair share of major league experience, although as his career .301 wOBA, he hasn’t had much success. His value comes as a fielder where he is above average and can play second base or in the outfield. He is at least a replacement level player, a cheap utility player. He will turn 30 in March and I’m sure some time will be willing to give him a shot.
Capuano has logged 771.2 innings in the majors and holds a career FIP of 4.49. He was named an all-star in 2006 but missed all of 2008 after having his second Tommy John surgery. He threw only nine innings in rehab assignments last season. I have not heard much regarding his recovery and, at this point, he could be damaged goods, but he is a low risk-high reward type of singing if he can prove he still has some miles left in his elbow.
Lubanski was the fifth overall pick by the Royals in 2003. His minor league career has been plagued by strikeouts (24 percent strikeout rate) although he has also shown a decent walk rate (9.1 percent). He has demonstrated some power over his career (.188 ISO) and he will turn just 25 in March.
Macias has spent the past seven seasons in the Padres organization earning several brief cameos with the major league club. He does not have great power but he is a disciplined hitter (10.9 percent walk rate) and he plays solid defense in the outfield. He will turn 27 this March.
Sanchez was once a promising prospect with the Tigers organization until he underwent Tommy John surgery missing all of 2007. He has played the last two seasons with the Yankees and has seemed to regain most of his stuff back. He struck out 36 hitters in 35.2 innings. He is still young at just 26 years of age and has potential to be an effective reliever if he can stay of the DL.
Threets was originally drafted by the Giants but spent last season with the Dodgers. He has had brief stints in the majors but injury problems have plagued him in the past. Once heralded as a flame-throwing lefty, he has settled in the mid-90s and his command is significantly improved. He is extremely tough on left-handed batters (opposing lefties have hit just .205 off him since 2005) and he induces plenty of groundballs (61.9 percent in 2009). He has the making of a left-handed specialist if he can manage to stay healthy and maintain command of his pitches.