This continues our unsexy section of the Top 41 – the MLB Spare Parts category. These guys could carve out big league roles, but they will never be average (or above) Major League regulars.
Why Ranked Here: As we’ve written in this space every year for going on three years running “when he’s healthy, Lutz can really hit. But he’s often not healthy.” Lutz has some strength in his swing and he’s disciplined. He’s not really a bat speed guy, and will strike out more in the big leagues against the world’s best fastballs to the point where it should really take a bit out of his batting average. Still, he could be a useful bench bat with a little pop.
The issue for Lutz is that he provides very little value when he’s not in the batter’s box. He’s a below average runner, who plays a below average third base. He’s played a grand total of 38 games at first base in his minor league career so he is far from natural there.
Lutz has never played the outfield as a professional and would likely be a liability defensively were he to play leftfield.
2012: A standard Lutz season: an injury (this time a broken hammate bone), a nice offensive line in AAA and lookee here, a MLB debut.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A useful bench piece. His minor league numbers are better than “pinch-hitter extraordinaire” Willie Harris‘s were.
Debbie Downer Says: Teams often won’t/can’t carry a 1B/3B righty bench bat in the era of 12 and 13-man pitching staffs.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas (where he should be up big numbers)
MLB Arrival: He’ll be back in 2013.
#22 – LHP Darin Gorski
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210 lbs
Acquired: 7th rd ’09 (Kutztown U)
Born: 10/6/87 (Mt. Joy, Pa)
2012 Rank: 13 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Gorski drops nine spots because he was an average pitcher in AA. In a League that allowed 4.3 runs per game, Gorski allowed 4.4. He works with a below average fastball. When I saw him early in spring training he was mostly 86-88. Even if that goes to 87-89, as the weather warms, it will not change the math of the pitcher/batter confrontation very much.
As I wrote earlier this spring: “His changeup at 79 mph remains his best weapon. He has good armspeed with the offering and a little sink.”
Gorski’s breaking ball is now a curveball at about 74 mph. It’s shorter and tighter than when he was in a-ball, which is a good thing. Even so, it’s clearly his third pitch. If he is to succeed, it’s as a fastball/changeup southpaw. I do not think the breaking ball is good enough yet that it makes sense to put Gorski in the pen. Besides, the Mets might need a few extra starting pitchers along the way and Gorski is depth in that valuable category.
2012: How close to Eastern League average was Gorski? The EL as a whole fanned 7.3 batter per nine, and walked 3.3. Gorski: 7.6 and 3.2 respectively.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Backend starter
Debbie Downer Says: Up and down, AAA journeyman.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas.
#23 – OF Matt den Dekker
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205 lbs
Acquired: 5th rd 2010 (Florida)
Born: 8/10/87 (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
2012 Rank: 18 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Den Dekker slips five spots from a year ago because he “hit” .220/.256/.373 with strikeouts in 28% of his plate appearances in AAA in the second half of 2012 in the season in which he turned 25. That’s not going to play in AAA and it certainly means he is not ready to play in the big leagues. Now, he will miss the first half of 2013 with a broken wrist.
Den Dekker can really go get it in centerfield. There’s little question about that. He’s not a burner, but he gets excellent jumps, covers ground well, and is fearless. His arm is below average, but plays in center.
At the plate, lefties and good breaking balls give him fits.
2012: Den Dekker crushed AA Eastern League pitching, but more experienced AAA pitchers ate him up.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A 4th outfielder.
Debbie Downer Says: A AAA veteran.
Projected 2013 Start: Las Vegas (late)
MLB Arrival: 2013 (maybe)