I've covered a few of the pitchers I think will rise to the forefront in '09 (there's a few more I'll probably post about later), so let's move on to the hitters and see what we come up with.
- Josh Reddick -- I've posted about Reddick before so I won't go into too much detail right now, but Reddick has some impressive power potential and strikes out a lot less than most people think. He didn't perform all that well during the his time in Winter League this year, hitting just .198, but he also hit 5 home runs in just 98 at-bats. He compares very well to guys like Justin Morneau, Ryan Braun, and Matt Williams, and has the potential to hit between .280-.300 and post 30-40 home runs in his prime on a regular basis. When I first looked into his numbers, I was concerned that he hit just .214 at AA in 2008, but his BABIP during that time was just .221, down from a career average of about .340. I expect his '09 stats to bounce back up once his BABIP fluctuates back towards his average. Besides his offensive stats, Reddick is an above average outfielder, with the capacity to steal 15-20 bases a year. I think that if the Red Sox let him do his thing with the bat and give him a chance to shine in the field, he could be a very talented player.
- Max Ramirez/Taylor Teagarden -- Between Ramirez and Teagarden, one or both of them is going to have a big year in 2009. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still considered the favorite to win the starting job for Texas, but there's still a good chance he gets traded and the Rangers go with Teagarden instead (which I think is the best move). That would leave Ramirez in AAA for one year, after which the Rangers could trade him or Teagarden for some pitching. Both hitters could put up some great offensive numbers while playing very well defensively in the majors, and no matter which one the Rangers ultimately settle on, they're both going to be very good.
- Brandon Laird -- This is going to be my wild card pick for 2009. Laird has only played at A ball thus far in his career, and he has a huge roadblock in his way that goes by the name of Mark Teixeira. As the little brother of catcher Gerald Laird, I think Brandon understands that if he wants to play in the big leagues, he's going to have to prove himself and find a position where he fits in with the rest of the Yankees plans. That probably means a move to the outfield, and a lot of work on his defense. However, Laird can hit the cover off the ball, and if he keeps at it, he might find his way to the majors in a few years.
- Yonder Alonso -- I'm not sure if a top 10 pick can really be considered a sleeper, but Alonso has been a bit overlooked in my mind. Sure, Pedro Alvarez, Buster Posey, and Justin Smoak will all be solid hitters, but I think Alonso may prove to be the cream of the crop. Great patience, power to all fields, and a chance to play in Cincinnatti could all culminate in big numbers down the road.
- Chris Carter (both of them) -- There are 2 Chris Carters out there that could have big years in '09 - Chris Carter of the Red Sox and Chris Carter of the Oakland A's. The Boston Chris Carter is going to have to leapfrog some incumbent starters, but due to age and injury, I think there's a good chance he could very well find his way into a quasi-fulltime position in a few months. At this point, I'd give him an .850 OPS and 20-25 home runs in 600 plate appearances (but I think 350-400 plate appearances are more likely, so maybe just 15 home runs). The Oakland Chris Carter has got some power in his stroke, but he also strikes out a lot and that could become a problem. The one thing I really like about the Oakland Carter is that his stats thus far compare very well to Chris Davis, except that Carter walks a bit more.