An often overlooked portion of preparing for your fantasy baseball season is paying attention to the rookies and prospects that are potentially making their way into Major League lineups. They may not be impact players at the time of your fantasy baseball draft, but it’s still important to keep an eye on the progress of these prospects – they may take more important roles as the season wears on, giving you an edge if you’ve been paying attention all along. Here is a look at the top 5 rookies and prospects for the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates.
#1 Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie- Neil Walker, 3B
Neil Walker has yet to make his Major League debut, but will most likely receive a solid opportunity to compete for the 3B job against Andy LaRoche. Walker could bring a strong bat, but has struggled with consistency. LaRoche is likely to open the season as the starter, with Walker in AAA, but if LaRoche falters, look for Walker to get a chance to stake a claim on the position.
#2 Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie- Robinzon Diaz, C
The only reason Robinzon Diaz is at #2 instead of #1 on this list is the lack of power in his bat. He is all but guaranteed to be the #2 catcher for the Pirates this season, and has shown the ability to hit for a terrific average despite his lack of power. Diaz probably won’t see enough action to make a fantasy impact, but could be a solid producer if starter Ryan Doumit were to be injured.
#3 Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie- Donald Veal, LHP
The Pirates selected Donald Veal in the Rule 5 draft from the Chicago Cubs organization with the hopes that pitching coach Joe Kerrigan can help smooth out the hard-throwing lefty’s recent control problems. Veal will get an opportunity to compete for a bullpen spot – I would expect he’ll get quite a long look, given how difficult it can be to find a left-handed reliever with the kind of arm Veal has exhibited.
#4 Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie- Luis Cruz, SS/2B
Luis Cruz is most likely to start the season at AAA Indianapolis. He received a brief callup late last season, but would probably benefit more from everyday duty in the minors rather than riding the bench in Pittsburgh. Cruz has shown solid run production ability throughout his time in the minors, but could use to sharpen his fielding a bit before making the jump to the majors.
#5 Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie – Jeff Sues, RHP
Jeff Sues was named the Pittsburgh organization’s Minor League pitcher of the year in 2008, posting solid numbers at both high Class A and AA levels. Sues is likely to start the season at AA, most likely with a quick move up to AAA. I wouldn’t foresee Sues as a contributor in 2009, but he’s shown all the tools to be a solid contributor by 2010.
Stats courtesy www.mlb.com and www.baseball-reference.com