Michael Aubrey | Baltimore | 1B
True Talent: .247/.298/.385
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, .247 BA, 0.0 SB
We hopped into our Wayback Machine to dig up the goods on Michael Aubrey. Back to the days when he was considered a “can’t miss” prospect … back to the days when he was healthy! He was the 11th pick in the 2003 draft, ahead of notables such as Aaron Hill, Carlos Quentin, and Chad Billingsley. He started his pro career in full-season Single-A ball the same year, making such a mockery of the Sally League that he started his first full season of pro ball in High-A in 2004. He also destroyed that level, earning a quick promotion to Double-A. That’s when the injuries began. He missed about 360 games between the second half of 2004 and 2007. He missed time again in 2008 but finally made it to Triple-A. In 2009, he was hitting .290/.323/.436 before his call-up, and he even managed to play in 101 games. Though slow, he’s a good defender and Trembley likes him. He’s going to play the rest of this year and might be a good deep sleeper pick in AL-only leagues for next year—there’s no telling when “hidden” talent will re-emerge on a guy who’s missed so much time.
Fausto Carmona | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 5.5 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 6.89 ERA
True Talent: 5.4 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 4.90 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.82 ERA
Time for another round of, “How Desperate Are YOU?” The Indians expected to contend but quickly saw their season fall apart, and expected No. 2 starter Fausto Carmona‘s a big part of the reason why. He’s not throwing 95 mph any more, but his fastball still averages about 93 mph this year. And he’s inducing 54.2% grounders. But that’s about it for any good news … his control has deserted him entirely, and there’s no reason to think it will come back this season, if ever. He’s walked 5.4 batters/9 IP, and when he’s thrown strikes, he’s allowed a career-high 18.6% LD%, and just a 2.8% infield fly%, indicating that batters are teeing off. Anyway, TT projects him to have a sub-5.00 ERA, and getting to pitch at home against the O’s could help him tonight. But, really, picking him up is a last-ditch effort to get someone who was once good, and is assured of getting his starts.
Brett Gardner | New York | OF
True Talent: .261/.340/.361
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 0 RBI, .264 BA, 0.4 SB
Two months ago, we anticipated that Gardner’s OBP would stay above the TT level (which was .341 at the time), and it has. Expect him to see a LOT of playing time as the Yankees make sure that their starting outfielders are as healthy and rested as possible for the playoffs. The Yankees will face some good catchers (KC and TB), but Gardner is fast enough to steal anyway, and could make a difference in that category.
Alex Gonzalez | Boston | SS
True Talent: .248/.300/.391
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, .255 BA, 0.1 SB
Gonzalez has hit .321/.333/.607 in 60 PA at Fenway this year, and Boston plays 6 of 9 at home, with the other three being at New York. For his career, he’s shown no preference for facing LH or RH pitching, but everyone’s shown a preference for Cleveland’s pitching this season, and the Indians and Blue Jays are the two home series. Don’t expect miracles, but he’ll play every day, and could hit a couple more HR.
Mark Hendrickson | Baltimore | SP/RP
YTD: 5.3 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.37 ERA
True Talent: 5.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.60 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 7 K, 4.92 ERA
Moved into the rotation to replace Matusz, Hendrickson can be expected to start for the rest of this year, as the team faces Cleveland, TB, and Toronto. His True Talent projection looks promising, but only pick him up in a pinch (and hope for the best!), as he’s been much better in relief due to his L/R splits (.268/.311/.397 against as RP, .317/.378/.596 as an SP; tOPS+ splits of 75/113 vsL/R).
Daniel Hudson | Chicago | SP
YTD: 6.8 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.38 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: 6.2 IP, 0.5 Wins
Daniel Hudson “blew up” the True Talent projections, his minor-league stats were so awesome this year (147.1 IP, 105 H, 166:34 K:BB, just five HR at four levels). Entering the 2008 college season, Hudson was all the buzz, expected to be a high-round pick, but he had an off year, and slipped to the White Sox in the fifth round. You could say he’s rebounded nicely in ’09. He reaches 94 pretty effortlessly now, and his slider should become devastating, as it was in the minors. He’s typical in terms of GB% and FB%, and should be considered a prime Rookie of the Year candidate for 2010, even if the Sox delay his call-up two months to avoid arbitration, which is a possibility.
Ryan Raburn | Detroit | OF
True Talent: .264/.331/.456
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .266 BA, 0.2 SB
Lost in the shuffle of the Detroit outfield has been former utilityman Ryan Raburn, who has blasted 14 HR and stolen five bases in about half a season’s worth of PA. He’s used in a pinch sometimes but has appeared in all but three Tigers games in September. A nice source of homers in AL-only leagues, and he’s good enough to play against LHP in any format, if you have daily moves.
Matt Thornton | Chicago | RP
YTD: 10.7 K/9, 4.5 K/BB, 2.65 ERA
True Talent: 9.5 K/9, 3.2 K/BB, 3.19 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a Saves, 3.25 ERA
Matt Thornton is the White Sox closer, and he should be great at it. There’s even some talk that Jenks won’t be brought back in 2010, though it’s premature for that. Thornton is arguably the best lefty reliever in the game now and one of the hardest-throwing—clocking in with an average fastball velocity well over 95 mph. He should be immediately considered a top closer down the stretch, even with the typical caveats about the last three outs being harder to get. Trading Joe Borchard for this guy was highway robbery by Kenny Williams.