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Insight on Utility Options

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Chad Jennings and Mike Ashmore have agreed to provide us with some insight on each of the current utility infielder candidates. Here is what they said about each:

Eduardo Nunez:

Chad Jennings: Good power for a middle infielder, but he also doesn't take many walks and he made a lot of errors last season, which might have more to do with youth than anything. I believe, when he was really young, scouts were actually impressed with his defense.

Mike Ashmore: Great arm that he doesn't seem to understand how to harness. If he can cut down his errors, he can really be a nice player. Average speed. Above average bat, could stand to add some power. Bat
isn't a question, the glove is.

Ramiro Pena:

CJ: Great glove. Basically learned to play third base while in the big leagues and seemed to have few problems at the position. I hated the fact the Yankees put him on the opening day roster last year only because he had finally started to hit at the end of the 2008 season and in 2008 winter ball. April 2009 seemed a good time to give him regular at-bats to see if his offense would continue to turn the corner, but the Yankees might see him as nothing more than a defensive utility infielder, in which case, he was clearly ready to fill that role.

MA: Improved versatility gives him an edge over other utility infielder candidates. Has a penchant for making some dazzling defensive plays, but can also occasionally turn a routine play into more than it needs to be, which can get him into trouble. Average bat.

Kevin Russo:

CJ: Love the bat. Plenty of glove at second and more than enough arm at third. He's played shortstop and the outfield, but not a lot. I think he could play enough short to be a utility infielder -- especially on a team with Derek Jeter taking two days off a year. I was really, really impressed with Russo last year.

MA: Strong work ethic. Consistent bat. Average in the field. Doesn't really stand out in any way, but always seems to get the job done. Won't really hurt you in any way.

Reggie Corona:

CJ: I saw him struggle when he first got to Triple-A. Seemed to hit every thing in the air, which isn't his game at all. As he stayed in Triple-A, though, he got much better. He's typically had a great eye at the plate. His defense at second is pretty good, and he was better at shortstop than I expected.

MA: Lack of versatility is a concern, likely a part of why he didn't stick with Mariners as a utility infielder. Pretty standard utility infielder, unlikely to start at the MLB level. Still developing power, but only to right side of the field.  When comfortable in the field, one of the slickest fielders you'll see.

The current favorite looks like Pena, as he won the job last year. Russo and Corona are in the middle of the pack, as they both are legitimate MLB ready players by next season, but maybe not this season. Last year Corona was taken in the Rule 5 Draft by the Seattle Mariners, but was returned. Nunez is the least likely candidate due to his little AAA playing time and his fielding issues. Nunez may compete with Juan Miranda for the power off the bench/backup first baseman spot if he shows enough power to make up for the poor fielding. Thanks again to Chad Jennings and Mike Ashmore for the input. By the way, if you do not have Mike Ashmore's Thunder Thoughts bookmarked, you may want to fix that.