2009 Rule 5 Draft Preview: Outfielders

So far I’ve reviewed some catchers and middle infielders in the upcoming 2009 Rule 5 draft.  Next up we have a few outfielders who are eligible for the draft that the Pirates may want to take a look at.

The Pirates are pretty secure in their outfield situation, both in the short term, and long term.  In the short term they’ve got Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge in the majors, and Jose Tabata in the wings for the third spot, possibly in the majors by June 2010.  Gorkys Hernandez also provides a prospect option at the upper levels in case one of the previous options doesn’t work out.  Long term, the Pirates have some interesting prospects in the lower levels, such as Starling Marte, Robbie Grossman, and Evan Chambers.

The Pirates may have bigger needs than another outfield prospect, but it never hurts to add an extra guy to the mix. It’s also easier to carry an extra outfielder on the roster, making it possible that the Pirates could keep the player they select for the entire season.  Everyone wants to find the next Johan Santana or Josh Hamilton, but adding a productive bench player would also be considered a victory.  Here are a few guys who could survive on the bench the entire season, with the potential to be something more for the Pirates in the future.

John Shelby, CF, CWS

Shelby entered the 2009 season as the tenth best prospect in the Chicago White Sox farm system, according to Baseball America.  He made the jump from high-A to AA at the age of 23, and struggled in that jump.  Shelby hit for a .295/.331/.510 line in 447 at-bats in high-A in 2008, with 15 homers and 33 stolen bases.  He hit for a .243/.323/.402 line in 428 AA at-bats, with 10 homers and 30 steals.

The numbers shouldn’t be taken too seriously though.  The Southern League is one of the biggest pitcher friendly leagues in the upper levels of the minors, and Birmingham, where Shelby played, is a big pitcher’s park.  Shelby has plus speed and some good power for a center fielder.  He had 33 steals in 2008, despite hamstring issues.  He could add more speed, but needs to improve his on-base percentage and cut back on the strikeouts to be totally effective.

Shelby also has played second base and shortstop in his career, along with the corner outfield positions, potentially making it easier for him to stick on a major league roster all season.

Carlos Peguero, LF, SEA

Peguero was the 11th best prospect in the Seattle Mariners’ farm system at the start of the 2009 season.  Despite hitting for a .299/.317/.480 line with 12 homers in 371 at-bats in high-A in 2008, Peguero repeated the level in the 2009 season.  Peguero hit for a .271/.335/.560 line in 491 at-bats in high-A during the 2009 season, with an impressive 31 homers.  The 31 homers came in the hitter friendly California League, although Peguero does project as a future power hitter.

There are three drawbacks with Peguero.  First, he has some atrocious plate patience, with an astonishing 172 strikeouts in 491 at-bats this year.  He also is a corner outfielder with an average arm and poor range, which normally makes him a left fielder, but doesn’t work well with PNC Park’s big left field.  Then there’s the obvious fact that he hasn’t played above high-A.  Still, Peguero has a lot of power potential, thanks to his 6′ 5″, 210 pound frame, and turns 23 next year, making him young enough to see that power develop.  The Pirates don’t exactly have an abundance of power hitters, making Peguero an interesting gamble.

Rene Tosoni, OF, MIN

Tosoni, who turned 23 in July, may be a victim of the outfield depth that exists in Minnesota’s farm system.  He entered the 2009 season as the 18th best prospect in the system, but that was only good enough to make him the sixth best outfield prospect in the system, a list that doesn’t include major league talent like Denard Span.  Tosoni put up a .300/.408/.414 line in 140 high-A at-bats in 2008.  He followed that up with a .271/.360/.454 line in 425 at-bats in AA this season, with 15 homers.

His numbers aren’t spectacular, but at the same time are good enough to give him a shot at jumping to the majors, especially with his high on-base percentage leading to an OPS over .800.  Tosoni has good control of the strike zone, with a short swing that allows him to hit for average, and the ability to hit to all fields.  Tosoni can play center field, with an above-average arm, but projects more as a corner outfielder in the future.  He doesn’t have the raw power needed for the position, which means he could end up being a fourth outfielder in the future.  He’s not my favorite on this list, but he’s an interesting short term option for the bench.

UPDATE: There is some controversy over whether or not Tosoni is eligible.

Danny Dorn, OF/1B, CIN

Dorn, whose father is named Roger and used to play third base for the Indians (unconfirmed), entered the 2009 season in AAA as the number 23 prospect in a talented Cincinnati farm system.  Dorn, who turned 25 in July, hit for a .275/.337/.457 line with 14 homers in 357 at-bats in the International League this year, after hitting for a .277/.367/.539 line in 336 AA at-bats last year, with 21 homers.

Dorn really struggles against left handers, hitting for a .189 average and a .602 OPS in 2009 versus southpaws, compared to a .299 average and an .867 OPS against right handers.  He plays both corner outfield positions, along with first base, but is poor defensively.  He has great power, with a homer every  21 at-bats.  He would be an interesting platoon option with a player who excels against left handers, or a strong bat off the bench.  He kind of reminds me of the left handed version of Steve Pearce.  A Pearce/Dorn platoon could work out at first base or right field if the Pirates don’t sign a free agent, and don’t give the first base job to Jeff Clement.

Check back tomorrow when I will review some left handed pitching options in the 2009 Rule 5 draft…

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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