Jordan Schafer (OF-ATL) – Schafer was 0-for-3 Sunday, leaving him just 5-for-36 for the month of May. Sure, everybody slumps, but he’s also struck out 19 times in those 36 at-bats and 42 times in 31 games this season. In fact, Schafer is on pace to top 200 strikeouts on the season. He is drawing walks at a 17.4% clip (BB/PA), but he’s going to have to make contact on a more frequent basis, and soon, to stick on the Braves roster. Small sample size obviously, but the one game Schafer led off, he was 2-for-5 with a double, though it’s hard to see Bobby Cox moving a .225 hitter to leadoff at this point regardless of his .363 OBP. There really isn’t an obvious backup CF on the roster, though the .363-hitting Omar Infante could be a candidate to take over, or perhaps the Braves try Jeff Francoeur in center. It would be a stretch, but perhaps the Braves at some point consider promoting the .339-hitting Gorkys Hernandez from Double-A. Hernandez isn’t ready either, but he’d be worth adding for the 40-+ SB potential alone.
Adam Rosales (3B-CIN) – With Edwin Encarnacion on the DL, Rosales is getting a chance to impress Dusty Baker, and he certainly did Sunday, going 1-for-3 with a walk and his first home run in the big leagues. Rosales is batting .256/.348/.333 in 39 at-bats, with the HR being extra base hit #1. Impressively, he’s managed to draw five walks to four strikeouts already, though that may be a negative for Dusty Baker, who does not like his batters clogging up the basepaths. Rosales has a so-so minor league track record - .291/.365/.494 in over 1,600 at-bats, including a 0.47 EYE and 29.4 HR/PA. Average-at-best numbers for a corner infielder. I don’t have any reports on Rosales’ defense, but he’s still errorless and stacked up against Encarnacion, that’s a huge plus. Perhaps the Reds consider Rosales at 3B and Encarnacion in left field given Baker’s dissatisfaction with Chris Dickerson, but the Reds will have some time to make that decision given Encarnacion’s likely ETA of early June at best.
Xavier Paul (OF-LAD) – In case you’re wondering who this guy is who “replaced” Manny on the 25-man roster, let me introduce you to Xavier Paul. Paul is a fourth round pick of the Dodgers out of high school back in 2003. He’s ascended through the system steadily since then, having a mini-breakout in Triple-A last year - .316/.378/.463 with nine home runs and 17 stolen bases. Nine HRs in the PCL isn’t much to brag about, but this guy is no Juan Pierre. He does have a bit of pop, and he can play defense. Scouts grade Paul’s arm as a 70 on the 80 scouting scale and that qualifies as “plus-plus”. Two problems here though – he’s projected as a borderline starter / 4th OF type and Pierre is batting .426 right now. Translation: at-bats will likely be scarce even with Manny sidelined. Paul warrants a speculative NL-only pickup, but as for starting options, you probably have better. Paul was hitting .344 in 96 Triple-A at-bats when he got the call. The future? He could start for many teams, but I just don’t see that happening in a Dodger uniform. He’s got a good chance at opening 2010 as the team’s #4 OF, getting around 200 at-bats, but he’ll probably need a trade to be a 500 at-bat guy. Thing is, he’s probably good enough to start for say, 10 teams right now.
Seth Smith (OF-COL) – With Ryan Spilborghs just 3-for-23 recently, Smith was given another start Sunday and delivered a single, double, stolen base, and walk in four plate appearances. Smith his now batting .310/.459/.534. With Brad Hawpe going nowhere and the Rockies committed to Dexter Fowler at another OF slot, it’s basically Smith and Spilborghs sharing time right now, with the rookie Fowler getting the occasional night off as well. Smith though clearly deserves playing over Spilborghs, though there is some concern that Smith makes the Rockies a bit too LH-heavy. Why not give him a shot against lefties though? He’s had just three at-bats against them this year (HR, four BB). For now, figure he’s in against most right-handers and out against the vast majority (if not all) of left-handers. For the record, Smith was a .313/.379/.506 hitter in the minors and considering over a third of his approximately 2,000 at-bats were in the PCL, a .506 SLG isn’t all that impressive for a corner OF. He can hit, but can he hit for enough power consistently to stick as a starter? Not sure there yet.
Juan Pierre (OF-LAD) – Pierre continues to be a more than adequate fill-in for the suspended Manny Ramirez with three more hits on Sunday plus a walk, stolen base, and three runs scored. Most notably, Pierre hit leadoff, with Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson following him. We’re not sure quite yet if this going to be a trend with Manny out, but considering Sunday’s results, it may very well be. Pierre is red hot right now, batting .426/.481/.511 (don’t see Juan with a .500+ SLG too often), and he’s also batting .444 with two walks in May. Consider Pierre a full-timer until Manny returns, relegating prospect Xavier Paul to the spot start and pinch hit role. Pierre will have to keep this up to garner significant at-bats when Manny returns on July 3, as one would think/hope that Pierre wouldn’t cut into the playing time of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers’ top two hitters who aren’t suspended.