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Desmond In, Incumbent Out, in Washington

In Spring 2005, Ian Desmond was in Major League spring training camp in Veira, Florida with the Nationals.  It was less than one year after he had starred at Sarasota High School.

NATIONALS TREASURE: Ian Desmond

NATIONALS TREASURE: Ian Desmond, Shortstop

While taking swings in the batting cage, Frank Robinson, a pretty fair player himself, said to Desmond: “Hey kid.  When you are 22-years-old, you are going to be pushing for a spot in the Big Leagues.”

General manager Jim Bowden added:  “He reminds me of Derek Jeter.”

Desmond is now 25-years-old.  It took longer for him to get to the Show than Robinson thought.  But, he’s there now.  On Sunday, manager Jim Riggleman announced that Desmond had beat out Cristian Guzman for the starting shortstop position.  This was no easy task.  Guzman is a 2 time all-star with a lifetime batting average of .271 and a salary of $8 million for 2010.

“He’s a talented, athletic kid,” said Riggleman.  “He makes electric plays.”

Getting to the Nationals was a struggle for the highly touted 6′ 2″, 210 pound shortstop.  In 2006, he hit .184 at Double-A Harrisburg which caused him to spend all of 2007 with Single-A Potomac.

INCUMBENT OUT: Cristian Guzman will be an expensive utility player.

Cristian Singles: Guzman's less hits will likely cause fantasy managers to frown more in 2010.

But in the Fall of 2008, “it all just clicked” as Desmond found his swing.  He also figured out how to not put too much pressure on himself.  “(Before) if I got out in my first at bat, there was no chance I would get a hit the rest of the game.”

Last year, Desmond hit .321 at Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.  He added 11 homers and 44 RBI.  In a September call-up, he hit .280 with a .561 slugging percentage.

Even Desmond’s off season was great.  He married his high school sweetheart Chelsea in January.  This Spring, Desmond is hitting .310 with a homer, 14 RBI, and 5 stolen bases.  His 14 RBI lead the team in the Grapefruit League.

Ian Desmond Fantasy Baseball Projection 2010

You  won’t find accurate projections for Ian Desmond in any magazines this year.  That’s because nobody expected Desmond to be able to beat out both Guzman and Adam Kennedy who was picked up during the Hot Stove League.

Desmond is likely to be the # 2 hitter in the Nationals lineup behind Nyjer Morgan and in front of Ryan Zimmerman.  That’s a  nice spot to be in.  We believe Desmond can hit .280 with 10 homeruns and 50 RBI, but his biggest contribution to your fantasy team may come from his wheels.  Desmond has 5 stolen bases already this Spring and he stole 27 bases last year.  We think Desmond’s good for 25 stolen bases at the MLB level in 2010.

As for Cristian Guzman, he must now be seen as only a utility player who will play more often than most utility players, but won’t warrant drafting except in deep leagues.  Lower your projections on Cristian Guzman. And, don’t expect a trade.  With an $8 million price tag, a swap of Guzman to another club is unlikely, at least in the first half of the season.

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