Question No. 5: How about the outfield?
Center field, it seems, is all but guaranteed to Austin Krum, who did a solid job replacing the demoted Seth Fortenberry, who opened 2009 in Trenton. Fortenberry had major issues with the bat, though, and wasn't nearly making up for it in the field. Even his much-hyped arm -- honored by Baseball America as tops among the system's outfielders -- was nowhere to be found.
Krum came up in June and immediately acted as a sort of Brett Gardner Lite. He hit .272 with the team, drove in 14 runs and swiped 11 bases in 13 tries. He also flashed an above average -- if at times inaccurate -- arm.
The bigger question is: Who will serve as Krum's bookends in right and left fields?
Although I'm not terribly sure Thunder fans want to hear this, Edwar Gonzalez may once again fill one of those slots.
After a 2008 season during which he acted as a key piece in the middle of the Thunder's order, the 27-year-old had a big letdown in 2009. He hit just .232 with a paltry four home runs and 37 RBIs. Part of the reason for the downturn -- more, in fact, than Gonzalez may let on -- could have had to do with a shoulder injury he suffered in the season's early going.
Gonzalez was on the shelf from April 25 until May 14, and wasn't nearly the same after that. Consider that when he went down he was hitting .326, but was so sapped after resuming his season that the average dropped 94 points.
If the 2008 and early 2009 Gonzalez shows up, then the Thunder could be in for a pleasant surprise. If not, then it may be a return to the tepid that ultimately did them in last season.
Joining Krum and Gonzalez, I think, will be Dan Brewer, a 22-year-old from Illinois who split last season between Charleston and Tampa, seeing success at both stops. He accrued a season line of .306/.393/.828 with six home runs, 48 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 30 tries.
He also made just three errors in the outfield last season (adding one at first base) and threw out four runners attempting to advance.
Just looking at the stats, Brewer seems like another Krum type, but with a bit better bat.