Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Davis, Shelton And Bautista

Paul Meyer has his Q+A up today. There are two defenses of my in-defense-of-J.J. letter down at the bottom.

In the middle of the column, Meyer rightly points out how hard the Rule 5 draft can be on the players selected - position players, especially, rarely get to play much unless they suffer "injuries" and undergo "rehab assignments" as a result. Chris Shelton, Jose Bautista and Jeff Bennett still haven't been returned to the Pirates since last November's Rule 5 pillaging. Bennett has pitched quite a bit for the Brewers, but Shelton and Bautista, the two highest-upside players selected, haven't played much at all. This may make the Pirates' decision to leave those players unprotected look less stupid in a couple years than it actually was, since this year has basically been wasted for Shelton and Bautista. They may flame out as a result - not because they lacked the potential to contribute in the major leagues, but because they simply didn't receive the game experience they needed (the same thing may happen to J.J. Davis, but we've been down this road before).

Bautista, in particular, looks like a longshot to be a good major leaguer at this point. He's hardly played at all this year, and he barely played last year after he hurt himself in a temper tantrum. The superb plate discipline he showed in the minors may well go to waste.

I think Shelton will probably still be a productive player, though. He's hit decently in limited time in the majors, and he pelted Class AAA pitching in a rehab assignment earlier this year. He can pretty obviously hit, and he only needs to find a position. I'll bet Detroit will have him in Toledo working on his defense throughout much of 2005, and then he'll return as a corner outfielder near the end of the season. Still, this year can't have helped his development.

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