Friday, November 24, 2006

Yunel Escobar Clouds Braves Marcus Giles' Future

Prospect 2B Yunel Escobar's sudden emergence as a superstar of the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League may mean 2B Marcus Giles' days are numbered with the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta's second-round draft pick in 2005, Escobar, 24, a Cuban defector, won the league's batting title by hitting .407, following up his '06 full-season combined minor league batting average of .320. Escobar's middle infield defense is outstanding, he has good speed and is ideally suited as a top-of-the-order hitter who can perform in the clutch. Giles, meanwhile, at 28 appears to be in a downhill trajectory, his average falling to .262 this season compared to his peak of .316 with 21 homers in '03. Giles has been limited by numerous health issues and injuries, including to both knees, the hand, shoulder, elbow, back and even his teeth. Don't be surprised if the San Diego native winds up joining his brother Brian Giles with the Padres. The Padres have a vacuum at second base now that Josh Barfield has been traded to Cleveland, but need not hurry to find a replacement. A plethora of middle infielders are on the free agent market, including left-batting Todd Walker, 33, whom the Padres had been platooning with Barfield.