By Mike DietrichÂ
Hello and welcome to the second part of players to watch in Spring Training.Â Today we will cover the American League.
New York Yankees
They have most positions filled up and you want to stay away from that ugly platoon at 1st base but I would keep an eye on Igawa to see if his soft tossing is effective.Â Also watchÂ for Jeff Karstens and Darell Rasner for when Pavano goes on the D.L
Boston Red Sox
Dustin Pedoria is the perfect Money Ball player based on his minor league stats so keep an eye on him as well as the undecided closer spot.Â The Red Sox would love for Craig Hansen to win this job and not one of the retreads (Pineiro, Taverez, Donnelly)
Toronto Blue Jays
Greg Zaun is a catcher who will not kill you as a backup and in the rotation John Thomson won 14 games a couple of years ago and could be worth a look.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The closer position is wide open but I see Seth McClung getting the majority of the work.Â Also keep an eye on Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes two very highly rated successful minor league hitters.Â What do they have to lose?
Nick Markakis is the breakout star here.Â He will bat 3rd in a pretty good lineup. Daniel Cabrera has maybe the best stuff but no head.Â This could be the year Leo Mazzone gets him on track.
This team will be the same as last years but with the addition of a motivated Gary Sheffield.Â Todd Jones is now 38 and I can see Joel Zumaya moving into the closer role midway through the year.Â He is worth finding a spot in your pitching staff.
Chicago White Sox
The CF spot is up for grabs.Â Brian Anderson has all the tools but Darrin Erstad has the experience.Â Juan Uribe could also have some issues.Â So long as there are no farmers in camp hopfeully he will be okay.
Trot Nixon looks to be the everyday RF and has always produced in Boston.Â If he is the full time player he should hit 30 Hrâ€™s if healthy.Â Buyer be lucky with a closer here, Joe Borowski who had a decent year in the NL last year but he is Joe Borowski.Â Rafael Betancourt is the sleeper in that bullpen.
Jason Kubel is the favorite at DH and has been a promising prospect for a couple of years, time to step up.Â Matt Garza is the pitcher to watch, he has proven all he can in the minors and has the electric stuff to backup Johan.
Kansas City Royals
The best rookie live in Kansas City in 3b Alex Gordon.Â He has been labeled a canâ€™t miss but the Royals have been quite unlucky with young players.Â Octavio Dotel has been a good closer but watch how much he pitches and not the results.Â He could be a steal at the end of a draft.
Nelson Cruz is the favorite at RF but you have to take a look at Sammy Sosa, he looked done last year but you never know.Â Most SP go to Texas to die but Brandon McCarthy is ready to break out and could break the trend.
Jose Guillen had major surgery at the end of the year so maybe this is the spot where Jeremy Reed breaks out into a star.Â On the pitching front Miguel Batista is the perfect end of draft guy moving into a pitchers park and could get 15 wins.
The signing of Shannon Stewart may push Dan Johnson to the bench but that would be a mistake.Â Johnson could be the power hitter that this lineup needs, If he has a job, he is a guy to watch.Â Rich Harden has the talent but Mark Prioritis.Â If he is healthy, he is worth a flyer.
Los Angeles Angels
Howie Kendrick is a possible ROY and Casey Kotchman is another who is a big time hitter in the minors.Â Juan Rivera is out until mid-season.Â Jared Weaver is hurt already so make sure he is pitching by the end of Spring Training.
Thanks for reading!Â We will come back next week with a look at the top rookies in each league.