Notes from Nashville, Monday edition

Hey there, all … despite what it says at the bottom of this post, this is Lisa chiming in here …

So two interesting trades today that saw several young players changing addresses (maybe not all rookies or prospects, but definitely literal youth movement here).

For anyone who may be slightly confused, no, the first baseman named Chris Carter who went from the White Sox to Arizona in the deal for outfielder Carlos Quentin is not the same first baseman named Chris Carter who LEFT Arizona a few months ago in the trade with Boston.

This Chris Carter is a 20-year-old first baseman who posted huge power numbers and a steady bat at Class A Kannapolis this year, hitting .291 with 25 homers and 93 RBIs and earning my colleague Kevin Czerwinski’s nod as the Sox’ Minor League Player of the Year (we each get to pick our own based on which 10 organizations we’re recapping this winter).

While Carter is a few years away from being ready for the Majors, the Diamondbacks are certainly in no hurry to fill the spot at first base, whereas by dealing Quentin they were able to start addressing a surplus of outfield talent and perhaps make room for another Carlos on the way?

Meanwhile, over on the other coast, the Tampa Bay Rays finally dealt troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes to the Washington Nationals in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Glenn Gibson.

The move takes the immensely talented Dukes away from his home in the Tampa area, in hopes (by both teams) that a change of scenery and address and some distance from his own stomping grounds can allow the 23-year-old to focus on the game and not the distractions off of the field.

Gibson, 20, was the Nationals’ fourth pick in 2006 out of high school on Long Island, New York, and is the son of former big league pitcher Paul Gibson. He went 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA at short-season Vermont this summer. Despite his young age, he’s considered a very polished young pitcher, perhaps because of the bloodlines and growing up around the game.

The move, coupled with the six-player deal the Rays made last week that sent Delmon Young to Minnesota for pitcher Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and Minor League pitcher Eduardo Morlan, clears a second spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster.

Why is that significant? Because they hold the first spot in the upcoming Rule 5 draft which will be held on Thursday morning.

The buzz is still minimal for now but I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more in the coming days (and if not, we’ll DEMAND it, ha ha).

But here are a few names to keep an eye on who could factor into this year’s draft:

To me, the most intriguing … and surprising … name on the list is outfielder Brian Barton of the Indians organization. Frankly, I was stunned to see him left unprotected and I will be truly surprised if he makes it through this draft untouched. Barton, signed out of Miami as a non-drafted free agent in the late summer of 2004, was the Indians’ No. 5 prospect coming into 2007 and even though he didn’t match his numbers from ’06 when he hit over .300 with 19 homers and 41 steals, his .305 average with 10 homers and 21 steals between Double-A and Triple-A were still impressive.

At 25 years old (and about to graduate from Miami with his aerospace engineering degree), Barton is the whole package. If he isn’t ready to be a starting outfielder in the Majors, he would certainly be a good candidate for several teams as a fourth guy to start the ’08 season.

Another outfielder who could be called early is Kansas City’s Chris Lubanski, their first-round pick and fifth overall in 2003 out of high school in the Philadelphia area. Though he had a disappointing ’07 campaign when he made his Triple-A debut, he’s always been one of the youngest players in his league and has great tools and makeup across the board. There will be several organizations, I’m sure, anxious to be the beneficiary when he puts it together.

Overall, though, people seem to think it will be a pitching-heavy draft. Among the names being mentioned are Yohan Pino of Minnesota, and two more Royals prospects in Greg Atencio and Dusty Hughes, both of whom pitched in the Arizona Fall League (Hughes, in fact, was voted the league’s Pitcher of the Year in an online poll by fans).

We’ll be back with more Rule 5 musings tomorrow … but for now, it’s off to the lobby!

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