Spring Training is drawing very near, so to whet the appetite for conjecture, what-ifs, and projections, we'll turn to Anthony Castrovince's evaluation of the outfield position on the official site, and specifically Shapiro's comments on Gutierrez and Snyder:
The Indians hope current outfield prospects Franklin Gutierrez and Brad Snyder have similarly smooth transitions to the big leagues, should the situation arise
this season. Both will begin the year at Triple-A Buffalo.
"They will both be guys that you'll see a lot of in Spring Training," Shapiro said. "That's one of the things we want to accomplish this spring. Guys who fit into our plan, we want to get a good look at. Our Triple-A club is largely going to be a prospect club. Two of those prospects are Franklin and Brad."
Gutierrez sharpened his game in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .341 with four home runs and 31 RBIs for the Caracas club during the regular season.
"Franklin's had an unbelievable winter," Shapiro said. "He's cut down on his strikeouts. He's got to stay healthy and develop a two-strike approach. The guy's an exciting young player, but there's still some question as to what he'd be up here."
The same question exists for Snyder. Although the Bellevue, Ohio, native batted a combined .279 with 31 doubles, 22 home runs and 82 RBIs between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron last season, he still has to prove himself defensively and at Triple-A. "He's definitely played the game the way we want it played," Shapiro said of Snyder. "He has the power, size and athleticism combo to be a corner outfielder at the Major League level. His approach fits with our approach, and he's a local kid. It's a pretty good match. But he's still got to go to the next level, which he really hasn't been to yet."
Personally, I'm of the belief that one of these two players will be a regular by August. Additionally, I think that either Garko or Marte will be getting regular AB's by that time as well. Whether that's a condemnation of Blake, Michaels, Boone, and Broussard or a testament to the talent that will be available in Buffalo, I'm not sure.
I just have the feeling that two of these players will force themselves into the situation, probably around the time an Indian hits the DL.
Things work themselves out as the season progresses.
Baseball's funny like that.
Some dates to remember:
February 16 - Pitchers & Catchers report
February 18 - First Workout
February 21 - Position Players report
February 23 - First Full Workout
It's the most wonderful time of the year...