Back in March, we polled the Rays blogosphere for predictions about the 2009 season in the minors. Now that it's September and the minor-league seasons are drawing to a close, it's time to take a look back and laugh at stupid things we all said. We finish today with predictions about who made the biggest major-league impact. Again, the panelists were: Cork Gaines from RaysIndex, Tommy Rancel and R.J. Anderson from DRaysBay, the RaysParty gang, Tyler Hissey from AroundTheMajors, Brickhaus from all over the place, and Doug and I from this site.
The question I sent out for this was: "Which prospect not named David Price will have the biggest impact at the major-league level in 2009?" You can view the original post with everyone's full answers here.
As it turned out, I could've not included the David Price qualifier and the answer still would've been Jeff Niemann. The big righty is 12-5 with a 3.57 ERA and a serious shot at the Rookie Of The Year award. Four of the panelists said Niemann would be the guy, mainly because he was out of options and was guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster. Still, I'm not sure anyone expected this strong a season.
Wade Davis was also a popular answer, but after a little bit of stagnation in AAA, he wasn't called up until a week ago. Cork, Tommy, and the RaysParty each saw him potentially assuming the David Price-like bullpen role down the stretch, and perhaps if the Rays were still in the playoff race, he would've had a chance to have a bigger impact down the stretch.
Tommy and I each mentioned Reid Brignac, who despite injuries to both Jason Bartlett and Aki Iwamura didn't make much of an impact. That can largely be chalked up to the emergence of Ben Zobrist, who was able to pitch in at SS and become the everyday 2B, all while hitting the cover off the ball. Bartlett also had a very strong offensive season, which meant there wasn't much need for Brignac's services. In 66 at-bats, Brignac has posted a .241/.275/.348 line.
Our dud prediction this round was from Doug, who tabbed John Jaso. Despite a less-then-stellar season from Dioner Navarro and another injury-plagued campaign from Shawn Riggans, Jaso is still in Durham. He had trouble getting things started this year, hitting just .266 and still working on his defense.
That wraps up our predictions review for 2009. Thanks again to everyone who participated, and we'll try to do something similar next year.