The start to the final week of 2010 brought the disturbing news that FIU’s Garrett Wittels had been charged with the rape of two 17-year old girls while on vacation in the Bahamas. Wittels, who currently holds the second-longest hitting streak in NCAA history at 56 games, is headed into his senior season and has a chance to make history- he is two games shy of tying Robin Ventura’s record of 58 games. It is too early to know, or speculate for that matter, what type of impact the allegations will have on Wittels’ eligibility.
With Carl Crawford long departed, the Tampa Bay Rays are hoping that rookie Desmond Jenningswill fill the void in left field. Jennings, who has comparable speed but less pop than his predecessor, will have Spring Training to prove to the Rays that he is the man for the job. If not, Matt Joyce should have no problem manning the position. Realistically, the Rays want Jennings to be their left fielder, so I’d expect a platoon scenario…at least until one of their two youngsters shows some consistency.
Phil Wood of MASN reported that the Nationals are likely make a decision this week regarding first baseman Derrek Lee. The first base market has dried up significantly since the winter meetings and the two-best remaining options are Lee and Adam LaRoche. It was rumored that the Orioles offered LaRoche a 3-year/$15-$18 million contract, but there’s been no update since. If I had to make a prediction, I would guess that LaRoche will end up with the Orioles therefore defaulting Lee to the Nationals. Lee would be a nice fit to Washington’s young and often erratic infield of Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Esposito.
With the Seattle Mariners likely to have another lackluster season in 2011, there’s a pretty good chance we will get to see Dustin Ackley in the major leagues. Coming off a tremendous Arizona Fall League in which he hit .424/.581/.758 and was named the league’s MVP, Ackley is poised to crack the Mariners’ infield. Out of all the great prospects in the minor leagues, Dee and I both think that Ackley will see the most immediate success primarily due to his sweet, compact left handed swing; he also ranks in both of our top-5 overall.
Speaking of sweet left handed swings, no top prospect list is complete without the Royals’ Eric Hosmer. Out of all the great prospects in the Royals’ organization – Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, Chris Dwyer, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi just to name a few – I believe Hosmer reigns supreme, as do our friends at Kings of Kauffman. I’ll save all of the analysis for them however, as The Golden Sombrero will be constructing our own evaluation of him in the coming months.