Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Big Show Update Part 1: Close to the Show

It's the day after Opening Day and now that the Major League Rosters are filled, the Minor Leagues are coming into focus. For some former Auburn players it's a tough go, as they are struggling to find a team. Others are fitting in nicely and trying to secure roster spots.

THE MAJORS

Only three players will start their season in the bigs. However, there are a couple who are just on the cusp of getting called up.

 

GABE GROSS

POSITION: RF
AT AUBURN: 99-01
PREVIOUSLY: Tampa Bay Rays
CURRENTLY: Tampa Bay Rays


NOTES: Nothing much to report. War Damn Gabe is currently platooning and seeing the most action as Tampa Bay's everyday rightfielder. However, the better Gabe Kapler gets the less and less we'll see of Gabe Gross. He's filling a void right now in the absence of BJ Upton and faces challenges from Kapler, as well as Matt Joyce for the Rays 3rd OF spot.

 

 

 TIM HUDSON

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POSITION: RHP
AT AUBURN: 96-97
PREVIOUSLY: Atlanta Braves
CURRENTLY: Atlanta Braves

NOTES: Huddy is hurt. 60 Day DL. Currently recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Once he gets healthy, be might see some bullpen work to build back his arm. Other than that 2009 is pretty much a wash for the Phenix City native.

 

DAVID ROSS

POSITION: C
AT AUBURN: 96-97
PREVIOUSLY: Cincinnati Reds
CURRENTLY: Atlanta Braves

NOTES: Ross was signed to a 2 year, 3 Mil deal for the Braves after bouncing around from the Reds and Red Sox last year. ATL had hoped the Ross would solve their back up catcher problem, and alleviate them from using the two-headed monster system they used last year. He’ll start the 09 season on the 15 Day DL and the Braves will use Clint Sammons as his replacement. To be honest, it’s not an ideal situation for D-Ross. He’ll only have a limited role for the Braves and play when Brian McCann is hurt or needs a breather and in some limited pinch hitting roles. However, if Sammons steps up then Ross could be sent down to AAA Gwinett.

AAA 

 

 CLETE THOMAS

POSITION: CF
AT AUBURN: 03-05
PREVIOUSLY: Toledo (AAA)/Detroit (MLB)
CURRENTLY: Toledo (AAA)

Notes: Clete made his debut with Detroit last year and managed to see action in 40 games in his first call-up. He managed to steal 31 bases and definitely put on an impressive showing. How much time he’ll see in the Majors this year is up for debate. The Tigers have some depth in the outfield and already have a young guy who can fill most holes (Josh Anderson); so Clete’s best bet is for the Tigers to unload some of their big money guys (Like Granderson or Mag. Ordonez) and hope for a call up. He might be better served with a full year on the farm where he can try to improve his power (what little he has) or his all around hitting skills.

 

 

 JUSTIN CHRISTIAN

POSITION: LF
AT AUBURN: 2001
PREVIOUSLY: New York Yankees
CURRENTLY: Norfolk Tides (AAA)

NOTES:  Christian had an interesting off season. After being released by the Yankees (his contract was non-tenured) he was looking around a place to call home. Luckily, The Orioles came calling and brought him on as a Non-Roster Invitee. He made the team and got into a battle for the Left Field, which he ultimately lost to Felix Pie. However, one O’s blogger doesn’t think we’ve seen the last of him:

Justin Christian—Christian may be the most intriguing on the five.

After being non-tendered by the New York Yankees, the O’s decided to give the 28-year-old outfielder a shot.

Just some quick stats on him from last season: In 40 at-bats for the “Bronx Bombers” he hit for a .250 average and was seven for eight in stolen base attempts.

The average fan would say that Christian will start off at Triple-A Norfolk, but from the way he’s playing this spring, it looks like he has other plans.

According to MASN.com's Roch Kubatko, Christian is "hitting everything hard."

In an interview after the game against St. Louis, O's Manager Dave Trembley had this to say about Justin:

"I know what kind of person he is. His pedigree is very good. Great makeup," Trembley said. "He told me he was going to be my sleeper. I went to him the other day because Pie wasn't here and I said, 'Hey, if I extend you to play the whole game, would that be asking too much of you?' And he said no, he played in Mexico this winter. He told me the more at-bats I can get him, the better. And he can play second base as well. He was originally an infielder. But he's a very good defensive outfielder." (quote courtesy of MASN.com)

For now, it looks like he will begin the year at Triple-A; however, he is making a case to play on the pro squad.  He might end up becoming the "sleeper" that he says he could be.

So the battles on for Christian, who faces both age and young depth from his parent club. However he’s at least turning some heads.

 

  TUG HULETT

POSITION: 2B
AT AUBURN: 02-04
PREVIOUSLY: Seattle Mariners
CURRENTLY: Omaha Royals (AAA)

NOTES: Tug made his debut with the Mariner’s last year and they were expecting big things. However, a collapse by the club down the stretch had them looking elsewhere. He was released by the team and later claimed on waivers by the Royals.

He does have some competition at 2B, but Hulett can play any infield position and would be looked on as a power addition if the Royals start to compete. The good news is that he still is on the KC Royals 40 Man Roster, so a call up can be quick and easy.

 

 

 

 

STEVEN REGISTER

POSITION: RHP
AT AUBURN: 02-04
PREVIOUSLY: Colorado Sky Sox (AAA)
CURRENTLY: Colorado Sky Sox (AAA)

NOTES: Although Register will start the season with AAA Colorado, he’s listed on the Rockies 40 Man roster so, barring a few injuries or flameouts, he could be in the bullpen for the Rockies. He came close to becoming a Met after the Rockies put him on Waivers, but the boys from Queen’s couldn’t find a spot for him and sent the former Rule 5 Pick back to Colorado. Though, some writers think he will be a part of this year’s bullpen, he has been officially reassigned so he’ll need a call up to get a shot. He should start the season as the Sky Sox Closer, and if he catches fire (like he did last year when he went 16-19 in Save Chances), he could be called up sooner than later, seeing how Colorado’s current closer, Huston Street, is shaky at best.

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