The Arizona Diamondbacks are also stocked full of outfield prospects. When they looked around, Josh Kroeger just didn't seem to fit any higher than fifth or sixth at any of the outfield spots on their depth chart. He also had not developed the power that they were looking for out of him and decided that he might be expendable. Meanwhile, the Phillies needed another major league ready outfielder and since they were shopping Bobby Abreu and Jason Michaels, they needed one pretty quickly to act as an insurance policy. As 2006 started, the D'backs put Kroeger on waivers and the Phillies didn't miss their chance to snatch him.
With the trade of Jason Michaels to Cleveland, Kroeger could be in the mix for a utility spot with the big league club. If not, he'll be at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre waiting in the wings for his shot at returning to the majors. He did play in 22 games with Arizona in 2004, although the results were not very good.
|YEAR / TEAM||HR||RBI||AVG||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||SB||BB||KO||OBP|
South Bend (A)
El Paso (AA)
El Paso (AA)
|Career - Minors||55||349||.285||651||2449||362||697||162||26||41||179||541||.337|
Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks on January 6, 2006. Originally drafted by Arizona in the 4th round of the 2000 Draft.
Batting and Power: The D'backs thought there would be more power coming from Kroeger than they ever saw from him in the minors. He hit a career high 19 homeruns at two different levels in 2004 and followed that up with 14 at AAA Tucson in 2005. He's got a solid career average and a decent on-base percentage, although sometimes, he tends to swing at bad pitches and inflates his strikeout numbers.
Baserunning and Speed: All of a sudden, Kroeger seemed to realize that he's got some speed and swiped a career-high 17 bases in 2005. He's got good baserunning instincts and is showing a knack for being aggressive on the bases. It's almost like he figured out that he wasn't going to hit as many homeruns as people were looking for, so he started stealing bases. The problem was that his on-base percentage fell to .316, his lowest minor league number in a couple of seasons. If he gets on base more, he can use that new found speed to his advantage.
Defense: Kroeger is just adequate, at best, defensively. He's got average range and a good arm, but doesn't set the world on fire. Kroeger's career fielding percentage in the minors is .950 and he's compiled 38 outfield assists over six seasons. He's played right field throughout his career, with little experience in either center or left field.
Projection: It's possible that with the exit of Jason Michaels, Kroeger could become a fifth outfielder for the Phillies, behind Shane Victorino. Having two young outfielders like Victorino and Kroeger coming off the bench would be an unusual approach for the Phillies, who tend not to use young players off the bench. Don't be surprised if the Phillies look to add a veteran outfielder and keep Kroeger at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre as insurance.
ETA: After 188 games at the AAA level, Kroeger is probably ready for a major league job now. He doesn't necessarily project as a starting outfielder at this point, so the question of having him on the bench or playing everyday at AAA is an obstacle for him.
Comparison: The Phillies would like Kroeger to be a left-handed hitting Jason Michaels, but he doesn't have the experience of playing various outfield positions like Michaels did.