TinCaps 2010 season review (hitters)

To follow up the pitchers’ season review, it’s on to the hitters from this year’s TinCaps team.

Again, some things to keep in mind:

  1. I’m not a scout and I don’t claim to be one. But I did see 143 games from this team. And, to quote a one-time MLB manager when I deferred to him on a player evaluation, “Your eyes are as good as everyone else’s.”
  2. Some guys are in here, some aren’t. It could be because they weren’t here long enough to form a good opinion, maybe injuries were part of the deal, I don’t think it’s right burying somebody or none of the above. If you have a question, ask in the comments.
  3. As any worthwhile MiLB review goes, this is player-oriented, not team-oriented.
  4. I’ll try to mention it when talking about individual players, but just because a player didn’t have a great year doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player. Scouts usually grade players on “present” and “future” ability. Potential is a huge part of this level of the game. College players usually aren’t considered to have as much untapped potential as high school or international players.

And now, your 20-o-10 TinCaps hitters review!

1B Nate Freiman: It seemed like every time I asked a scout about this guy, the answer I got was, “He’s going to have to produce everywhere he goes.” Well, everybody has to produce at some point, don’t they? Just because he’s a four-year college guy, that works against him. Right or wrong, it’s part of the deal in player evaluation. The fact of the matter is, he’s a 6-foot-8 first baseman who darn near hit .300 and hit more doubles in a season (43) than anybody ever has for our franchise while getting about four games off during his first full pro season. I thought the old adage was, doubles turn into homers as players fill out physically. Anybody who’s seen him take batting practice (or saw him in the Home Run Derby) knows he has incredible power, but he was more concerned with having a good approach and using the entire field. Sometimes it seemed like he would overthink at the plate and end up indecisive. If he decided to hit 25-30 homers in a season (with the expected dip in batting average as a side effect), I think he could. He works hard, cares about the game (almost to a fault) and is an incredibly nice guy. Then there’s the Nate Freiman Book Club, which deserves its own post.

INF Jonathan Galvez: A tough one to figure. He was barely 19 when the season started, which makes everything tougher to evaluate, and I know he was getting tired at the end of the season (who isn’t?). The big number that sticks out is 43 errors from a shortstop. That has to get better, or you have to move him. But where? He’s a rangy guy, not really someone you’d see as a corner outfielder. He had a decent on-base percentage (.360) and the vast majority of his home runs came late in the season but he struck out 121 times. His month of August was encouraging: best month in terms of runs scored (15), OBP (.398) and hits (28). To be continued.

3B Jedd Gyorko: The highest-drafted Padre from this year’s draft to sign (second round). Was here for almost two months. Hit .330 in Eugene, then .284 here despite being at the end of a season which began in February for him (at West Virginia University). I’ve heard people mention the hitch in his swing, but he still gets it done. I think he’ll end up hitting for some power. Mostly because he has forearms like sewer pipes. Glove looked really good – he was a second baseman and a shortstop in college but moved to third base as a pro.

C Jason Hagerty: Had a 31-game on-base streak to raise his OBP by 57 points. Then just for fun, he went on maybe the longest, hottest streak I’ve seen from a player in the minors since I’ve been working. From the MWL all-star break through the middle of August, he had one of the best OPS (on-base plus slugging) in Minor League Baseball. Splits? How about hitting .249 before the all-star break, .351 with 9 homers after? And he was catching just about every day. And it was hot. Defensively, I thought he was fine. Threw out 28 percent of runners trying to steal (and I don’t count pickoffs where the catcher doesn’t touch the ball as caught stealing).

OF Rymer Liriano: This is what I wrote in a previous entry: He had an odd year. Came in the No. 14 prospect in the San Diego organization. Skipped short-season ball and made the opening-day roster in Fort Wayne at the age of 18, struggled (hit .191, struck out almost 29% of the time, had a 1-for-44 stretch in May but showed some flashes of power, speed, arm) and didn’t look like he was quite ready for this level. Went back to extended spring training to get ready for Eugene’s short season.  Went to Eugene and went nuts (was hitting .319 on August 1 before cooling off), stole 17 bases but didn’t hit a single home run while still striking out 25% of the time. Sent to Lake Elsinore in late August around the same time Jaff Decker got hurt. Got off to a good start, slowed down late, ended up hitting .220 (respectable for a guy who turned 19 during the season). Obviously he did enough in Eugene to impress the managers and scouts. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk much (although he was a little better with the walks in Eugene and Lake Elsinore). When he was here, he had a tendency to lunge toward the mound when he was swinging. He’s really strong physically and can throw the heck out of the ball from the outfield. We’ll see what happens with him next year. He’ll still only be 19 on Opening Day.

OF Daniel Meeley: I talked to a scout who called him a sleeper. Love his approach at the plate. He keeps his hands inside everything. And I mean everything. I kept waiting for him to drop the bat head on an inside fastball and yank one about nine miles, but he never did. That doesn’t mean he never will, though. Eight errors in the outfield could stand to improve, but he doesn’t turn 22 until July 2011.

3B Edinson Rincon: Somewhat similar to Galvez in that he’s a tough one to figure out. He was 19 years old on Opening Day. Entered the season as the No. 9 prospect in the Padres’ system thanks in large part to a season at Eugene, where he hit .300 with decent pop and good plate discipline. The glove may always be a trouble spot (36 errors this year), but I’m not sure you give up and put him in the corner outfield before his 21st birthday. He showed quite a few flashes with the bat (35 doubles, 13 homers despite a .250 average). Also keep in mind he played in 132 of the 140 games in his first full year. Not easy. Another “to be continued” guy.

2B/SS Jeudy Valdez: He’s now played parts of three seasons in Fort Wayne, but this was really his first full season (132 games played) in pro baseball thanks to injuries. The 25 errors are tough, but he has a really good arm, especially for a second baseman. He also struck out 115 times. If he can maximize his speed (34 steals this year) and cut down on the strikeouts, he’d jump up the prospect lists. It’s a big adjustment, but he’s 21 years old.

OF Everett Williams: Maybe the most frustrating player to watch on the entire roster this year, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Here’s why: He has incredible talent. I mean, hit a 400-foot, opposite-field bomb one at-bat, then beat out an infield hit and easily steal second the next time. When he got hot, he went nuclear. It just didn’t happen consistently. He turned 20 on October 1, so there’s plenty of time. When it clicks for him, look out.

Random thoughts:

  • Adrian Gonzalez, 2011 San Diego Padres. It’s official and everything.
  • Whoever wrote this should win an award (Part 2)… It’s an evaluation of the results from the “best minor-league system in baseball” according to Baseball America over the last ten years. You always hear about how “Team A is loaded,” but a lot can happen between top prospect and major leagues. Example: In 2001 White Sox were rated the best farm system in baseball. Here were there top 10 prospects: Jon Rauch, Joe Borchard, Joe Crede, Matt Ginter, Danny Wright, Lorenzo Barcelo, Brian West, Aaron Rowand, Josh Fogg, Jason Stumm. These guys may have an impressive array of unnecessary consonants at the end of their names, but the position players have combined to have about five good seasons in the big leagues (mostly from Rowand) and there’s a setup guy/closer at the top. There isn’t a single franchise-type player in there. So the point is, just when you think you know it all, it’s proven otherwise. Royals fans waiting for their wave of prospects to get to the major leagues in 2011-12 may have just set themselves on fire.
  • First, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert goes on a scorned ex-lover rant about LeBron. Now, the new owner of the Rangers rips Yankee fans. Personally, I kind of like that they care. Just keep opening up the checkbook and letting the GMs do their jobs and it’s a perfect world.
  • Speaking of LeBron, Bill Simmons shared his thoughts on the Heat and the awkwardness that was their first couple of games. Jerks.
  • Stay tuned to TinCaps.com for a big announcement, maybe as soon as the next few days.
  • Here are the lists of Type-A and Type-B free agents. I realize they’re based solely on this year’s stats compared to others at the same position and don’t factor in injuries, but wow. A team signing Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada or Ted Lilly may really have to give up a draft pick to get him? AND they’d have to pay him? Kevin Millwood and his 4-16, 5.10 signing elsewhere could give the Orioles a supplemental pick? Where am I, 2002?
  • The Big East wants to add two more teams for football. Want to make a splash? Make it TCU and Boise. In the words of former Indians owner Rachel Phelps, that oughta shut these people up.

And now, musical guest… O.A.R.!

Take care!

DW

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