Who’s the DH of the future?
With the Astros headed to the American League West beginning in 2013, there’s going to be a different brand of baseball played at Minute Maid Park. There will be less bunts, fewer pitching changes and almost no double-switches. All of which is thanks to the presence of the designated hitter.
If you grew up a baseball fan in Houston, seeing the designated hitter at Minute Maid Park will take some time to embrace. Beginning in 2013, there will be no more watching pitchers trying to bunt and swing away aimlessly. No more acting shocked when the Gustavo Chacins of the world hit home runs (unless the Astros are playing Interleague Play in a National League park).
OK, now I’m confused.
The bottom line is the Astros are going to have to find a designated hitter. They have a pretty good candidate to be DH in Carlos Lee, but as luck would have it, his contract expires at the end of the 2012 season. The Astros aren’t likely to bring him back after paying him $100 million over six years.
The DH is usually associated with a guy like Frank Thomas or David Ortiz, burly sluggers who have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and who aren’t the greatest defenders. But some of the best DH’s have been guys who can flat out hit, but not necessarily hit the long ball as proficiently as the Big Hurt. Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines, two of the best DH’s ever, never hit more than 40 homers in a season, and Baines never hit more than 30.
Could the future DH be Brett Wallace, who has yet to establish himself in the Majors? Wallace will need to find his power stroke first, but if he’s still in the organization in two years he’ll be in the mix.
The two players in the system who appear to have the most potential to be DH’s down the road are Jonathan Singleton and Telvin Nash, who is build like Ryan Howard.
Singleton, acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal, is one of the club’s top prospects and has emerging power. A left-handed hitter who plays first base, he hit a combined 13 homers last season between high Class A Clearwater and Lancaster. The kid is bursting with potential.
Nash, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound right-hander, looks more like your prototypical DH. He bashed 14 homers in only 268 at-bats last year at low Class A Lexington, missing two months after breaking a bone in his hand.
If Singleton is indeed the team’s first baseman of the future, Nash is destined for a DH role. Another slugger who push for DH time is Kody Hinze. He’s not a top prospect, but he’s shown some pretty good power and has been playing first base as well.