When we discussed what we needed to do to dust off Bus Leagues and get ‘er humming for a second full season, OMDQ asked me to re-visit last year’s Z-Meter standings before I started up our own star-watch metric again for ’09. I’m going to try and do that today.
First of all, I should tell any new visitors that the Z-meter is a constantly changing list of who’s who in minor-league baseball – according to us. Generally speaking, guys get on our list for their potential, but it doesn’t hurt to have a funny name, or a connection to one of our favorite franchises, either. We watch guys move from A ball to, hopefully, the majors throughout the season.
Last season, fourteen of our notable players made the bigs, including official Bus Leagues man-crush Jay Bruce. Our readers gave the guy a nickname, and he approved it, so we’re feeling pretty damn good right about now. But here’s the full list of guys who are livin’ the dream:
Evan Longoria, 3B, Durham (AAA) to Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Omaha (AAA) to Kansas City Royals (MLB)
Max Scherzer, RHP, Tucson (AAA) to Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Jacksonville (AA) to Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
Jay Bruce, OF, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)
Homer Bailey, RHP, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)
Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Springs (AAA) to Colorado Rockies (MLB)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Sacramento (AAA) to Oakland (MLB)
Chase Headley, 3B, Portland (AAA) to San Diego (MLB)
Eulogio De La Cruz, RHP, Albuquerque (AAA) to Marlins (MLB)
Joe Koshansky, 1B, Colorado Springs (AAA) to Rockies (MLB)
Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Iowa (AAA) to Chicago Cubs (MLB)
Nelson Cruz, CF, Oklahoma (AAA) to Rangers (MLB)
Justin Masterson, RHP, Portland (AA) to Boston (MLB)
Since they made it, I’m taking them off the list forever. Even if they get optioned back, the Meter is about learning new names, not celebrating a demotion.
So, here are the names of the fellas who were left short in ’08, with a quick note on where they are right now:
Andrew McCutcheon (Pirates): Starting the season in Triple-A, but don’t expect him to be there long.
Matt Tuiasosopo (Mariners): Had 14 games in Seattle last season, but only hit .159 in 44 at-bats.
Colby Rasmus (Cardinals): Rasmus struggled to change his swing last year, but his hard-luck days are over. According to Baseball America, he’s hitting .286 in spring training, and has made the Cards’ opening day roster.
Luke Montz (Nationals): Montz played through September in D.C., and will stick. Sadly, he still has to play for the Nationals.
Wade Davis (Rays): Pitched pretty well in Durham to end the season, going 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA. No word on whether value of head matches that of arm, or is more in the ten-cent range. Needs a nickname.
Kila Kaaihue (Royals): Hit .286 in twelve games at KC last year, but will start the season in Omaha.
Travis Snyder (Blue Jays): Snyder has four homers in his spring at-bats for the Blue Jays. After a 24-game callup last season, Snyder’s big stick is likely to stay in the Great White North.
David Price (Rays): Called up and pitched in the Rays’ miracle run to the World Series. Obviously, he don’t need this stinkin’ list no more.
Mat Gamel (Brewers): Had just two games in Milwaukee last season, but his time appears to be now. Is on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.
Austin Jackson (Yankees): Sent back down March 25th after hitting a grand-slam in Yankees camp.
Dexter Fowler (Rockies): Speed merchant is expected to make the Rocks’ opening day roster.
Cameron Maybin (Marlins): Maybin was called up by the Tigers in ’07, but only hit .143. In eight games with the Marlins this past September, he hit .500. Welcome to the bigs, Cam.
Elvis Andrus (Rangers): Every time Elvis is mentioned, you’ll hear “five tools”. Either that, or “Peanut butter and bacon sandwich”, if you’re not talking to a baseball fan. Anyway, the kid is raw, but damn good. Has time to develop, and will likely have all of this season to do so.
Trevor Cahill (Oakland): 2-2 in spring training, and scheduled to make his first major-league start on Tuesday.
Antonio Bastardo (Phillies): Pitched pretty well for Reading after his promotion, but was hurt for a good chunk of the season. Will probably need to prove he’s not too injury-prone before moving up the meter.
Matt Wieters (Orioles): Wieters is being stashed in Norfolk right now, but most believe it’s a free-agency dance that will end with a call-up sometime after April.
Lars Anderson (Red Sox): Not much room for Lars in Boston. Has some high school experience in the outfield, so may give that a try to improve his prospects.
Matt LaPorta (Indians): Matt had a tough time adjusting after being swapped from the Brewers organization to the Indians as the key to the Sabathia trade. His average went from .404 to .299 following the change of scenery.
Fernando Martinez (Mets): Many are projecting that Martinez, just 20 years old, may start the season in Triple-A.
Alcides Escobar (Brewers): Escobar had a cup of coffee in the bigs, and held on in spring training until April Fool’s Day. Has been optioned to the AAA Nashville Sounds.
Ian Gac (Rangers): Gac! split time between Low A and High A last season. He had 32 homers overall.
Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies): Jhoulys was one of my favorite players to check in on last season. He went 18-3 over Hi and Low A, and notched 160 strikeouts. He’ll probably be a Z-Meter fixture again this year unless the Rox get desparate.
Rick Porcello (Tigers): I am crapping you negative – Porcello is taking Jeremy Bonderman’s place in Detroit until he gets off the DL. All this after one low-A season. Can this end well?
Mike Moustakas (Royals): Mous (Moose?) got progressively better throughout the season, finishing with 22 homers and 71 RBI in his first professional season. Royals GM Dayton Moore has said his bonus baby will likely play all of 2009 in A Wilmington
Madison Bumgarner (Giants): Got three innings in Giants Cactus League game. Struck out Manny Ramirez on three pitches and carries a 0.00 ERA.
That’s how last year’s guys ended up. I have some recommendations of who to add to the list this year from the other guys who write for the site, but I’ll happily entertain any from our readership as well. Next week we’ll roll out the inaugural edition of the 2009 Z-Meter, even though all leagues won’t be playing yet. I can’t tell you who this year’s man-crush will be for sure – it’s an emotional process that takes some time to sort out. But, like Annie Savoy, once we commit to a player, we’re with him all season.
Hooray, Bus Leaguers! It’s baseball season!!!