"Everytime I see you hit one in the air, you owe me 20 push-ups"
Photo Credit: jbtuohy
Free at last! Free at last! Thank the fantasy baseball gods almighty, he is free at last! The Tampa Bay Rays have (finally!) called up Desmond Jennings. I can hardly believe it, but it's true. Jennings will man Left Field for the (Devil) Rays going forward. The Rays No. 1 positional prospect was enjoying a fine season in AAA-Durham before his promotion (.275/.374/.456). This was the 24-year old's third tour of AAA. He had become so bored with the minor leagues he decided to break his own finger to provide himself a challenge. That's how good he was down there. How good will he be in the major leagues? Make the jump with us and find out. This is your Desmond Jennings rest-of-season forecast.
Forever we've been hearing about "Carl Crawford with patience"; the speedster with developing power. Well he's here and he's ready to be a difference-maker. The one thing I notice with Jennings is the increase in Strikeouts and Home Runs. His K% has jumped 6% since last year (up to 23.1% per AB) and the Home Runs (12) are already a career high for him. It'd be nice to know if he has begun swinging for the fences. I'm curious if he spent the off-season shooting a film with Jesse Ventura. It's a small increase for each, but he's hitting more Fly Balls and more Home Runs per Fly Ball this season. We'll have to ask Coach Lou Brown if he approves. Enough Major League references, let's forecast.
At Bats: 225 (60 games)
Strikeouts: 54 (24% K% per AB)
Fly Balls: 66 (38.6% FB%)
Home Runs: 4 (6.1% HR/FB%)
BABIP: .317 (53 singles, doubles, triples)
Batting Average: .253
Stolen Bases: 14
Most likely Coach Lou Brown would not approve, and neither do I. The Durham ballpark (AAA) scores a very high 141 in HR for Right-Handed batters while Tropicana Field scores only 93 in HR for RHB. This is no small detail. Jennings is not a power hitter and his 23% K% from AAA this season is pretty high for a player of his pedigree. Jennings would benefit more by making contact and hitting more Ground Balls. Fewer Strikeouts and a better BABIP would help his Batting Average, On Base Percentage and Stolen Base totals. I can't blame him for wanting to hit more Home Runs, chicks dig them and Tampa Bay probably sent him the wrong message by keeping him in the minors for so long.
Jennings had a very successful 2011 debut on Saturday. He led off, going 2 for 3 at the plate with two walks, a double, a triple, two Runs scored, a RBI and a Stolen Base. Huge. One of those walks was intentional. He did strike out once, watching an Aaron Crow pitch in the 9th inning. The Desmond Jennings era is well underway. The projection for Batting Average is low, but the potential for better numbers is definitely there. The official rest-of-season forecast for Desmond Jennings calls for a .253 AVG, 36 Runs, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 14 SB (225 AB)