Michael Brantley made his big-league debut last September filling in for the injured Grady Sizemore in center field, but now that Sizemore is healthy the Indians are thinking about starting Brantley alongside him in left field.
Here’s manager Manny Acta:
What he did in September gives him a leg up on the position. That being said, we all know he’s 22 and we’re still not going to be handing out jobs because we all have to do what’s best for the Indians and for the kid himself.
His primary competition? Scrap-heap veterans Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan, plus lesser prospects Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown. In other words, if the Indians are open to Brantley being ready for the majors at age 23 his odds of claiming the gig–or at least two-thirds of the gig, in a lefty-righty platoon with Kearns or Duncan–are pretty strong.
And if Brantley fares well right away his presence will likely result in Sizemore moving from the leadoff spot to the middle of the order, because Brantley is a low-power speedster with a .387 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts in the minors. Baseball Think Factory projects Brantley to hit .282/.348/.360 as a rookie, while the Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide has him at .267/.337/.344.