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Early Roster Analysis — Hitters

Now that the Wingnuts’ 2010 training camp roster has been set (I think), it’s time to look at what kind of team manager Kevin Hooper will put on the field for his second season.

It will be a lot different than Hooper’s first team, that much we know. Last year’s Wingnuts were like an Independent-league version of an MLB team. There was an ex-major leaguer (Dustan Mohr) and several others who had reached high levels of affiliated ball. With Hooper’s connections as an ex-MLB’er himself, he could put together a team like that because he knew people. And he knew people who knew people.

So Hooper can do pretty much whatever he wants with his roster in any given season. Though I haven’t talked about it with him yet (training camp begins May 1), I’d venture to say that this team is more his style of team. Maybe not. But as a guy who was a tough out at the top of the order who also provided speed and defense, I’d say that this team at least better reflects Hooper’s personality. Instead of looking for mostly players with a lot of experience in affiliated ball, he went for players who have had success in the American Association. I like that approach. Less risky, but possibly not less rewarding.

So let’s get into names — the early lineup projection looks like this — I’ve linked to stats for each player:

Catcher – Jeff ChristyFirst base – Steve PearsonSecond base – Patrick BrooksShortstop – Josh HornThird base – Michael ThompsonLeft field – Ryan PattersonCenter field – Chris ColtonRight field – Kennard BibbsDesignated hitter – Mario Delgado

The more I look at this lineup, the more I like it. It’s not going to strike fear into a pitcher the way last year’s lineup did, but each of those players is a proven independent-league player. I guess that’s not the highest praise for a baseball player overall, but what more can you really ask for? Well, Christy and Brooks probably aren’t as proven as the rest — Christy because he has only played affiliated ball, and Brooks because he doesn’t have the at-bats. But if he wins the second base job, I think he’ll produce.

My best guess at a batting order would be this: rf Bibbs; ss Horn; 1b Pearson; dh Delgado; lf Patterson; 3b Thompson; cf Colton; c Christy; 2b Brooks.

Are there 20-homer guys on this team? No, unless Delgado, who didn’t play in 2009, finds the form of earlier in his career. But several guys could get to 10 homers, the top of the order has speed and there isn’t an easy out in the group. On a personal level, I’m happy that Colton has returned after spending a season in the Frontier League, where he hit 18 homers. Colton was one of my favorite guys when he played here in 2008, so I’m glad to have him back.

Here are links to the stats for other guys who will try to make the Opening Day roster. Some good bench options, including Eric Williams, a speed guy who had a ridiculous .547 on-base percentage in the less-competitive Continental League last year. If that can translate at all to a higher level, the Wingnuts have found a gem:

Catchers — Kent Wright, Jeff Giacomini

Infielder — Jonathan Dziomba

Outfielder — Eric Williams

There will probably only be room for two of those players, and one of them will be a backup catcher. That means it’s likely a competition between Williams and Dziomba for the final spot. I’ll keep an eye on that battle as camp begins at the beginning of next month.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow we’ll look at Wichita’s 2010 pitching staff. And be sure to follow me on Twitter.