Minor League Roundup: Shortstop

Minor League Roundup: Shortstop

With uncertainty regarding Chris Woodward's ability to handle shortstop full time, Lance looks at the crop of youngsters fighting for the chance to take Woodward's spot, including the Jays' past two first round picks - Russ Adams in 2002 and Aaron Hill in 2003.

Shortstop is usually the place for the greatest athlete on the team. Especially in gearing for the Skydome's turf, a shortstop with range and athleticism is needed. Jays fans have seen athletes come and go. The grace of a Tony Fernandez and the range of Alex Gonzalez immediately jump into mind. There have been adventures there as well. It has been the home of fallen prospects like Eddie Zosky, who was handed the job to lose twice, and lost it both times.

In times past, a report like this may have touted the future of Jimmy Alvarez who was left unsigned this winter and found a home elsewhere. One can debate the future of Felipe Lopez, who let his attitude take front stage rather than his talent. Mike Rouse was rising as an unknown, at least to many but not to the Oakland A's front office. Yet J.P. has dug into the position with both of his first picks in the June draft. This alone puzzles me. Obviously JP values a shortstop highly as in his first draft the pick they hoped to land was Kahlil Greene - another shortstop. And yet it seems those outside of the main Blue Jays brass seem to think both of those top two picks Adams and Hill are best suited at another position. Which leads one to ask two questions: first, if this is true, does JP actually think he can develop these prospects into better ball players at a position consensus says they can't handle (something only first-hand scouting could tell, or a misguided computer program that doesn't value defence). Second, if true, then why haven't they been moved to another position yet?

As we look at the prospects I will address those questions, and point out some other players to at least keep in your peripheral vision. I smiled this morning as I read some scouting reports. I took a gamble last week on planning on Adams being at Syracuse, and a couple other positions falling into place. So far, so good. In this report let's look at today's player and compare him to his counterpart 10 years past.

Syracuse:

Russ Adams: A snappy line drive hitter. He will work the count looking for his pitch, and is unafraid of the walk, thus making him in good standing with the GM. All signs point to JP wanting Adams to succeed more than usual, as he can tout Adams as his first ever pick. He won't make the show as quickly as Kahlil Greene, but may have a better future. Adams' arm is in question, which prompts some to say he belongs at second, but for now he's set to start in Syracuse on the left side of the bag. There has been no indication the Jays plan to move him yet. Dick Scott, the Jays' Director of Player Development, calls him a "grinder." He adds that Adams' skill is more natural then a planned text book approach. Marty Pevey, Syracuse's manager, calls Adams a "prototypical leadoff kind of guy." They don't contradict, they just say he adapts to any situation, and bears the tools to do the job at hand.

Adams - 2003 New Haven
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
65 271 42 75 10 4 4 26 30 37 .277 .394 .387

1994 - Alex Gonzalez: He had the tools, coming off of a .289 season at Knoxville. They knew his glove was good, and his speed on the base paths was top of the line. He had power, but with the power came a free swinging approach. He hit .284 in his final minor league tune up.

New Hampshire

Aaron Hill: The SEC player of the year in his senior year, he is best described as a patient hitter who possesses power potential. He may in time outgrow the position, but like the switch for Adams it has only been suggested. Less then one season into professional ball, Hill has already impressed. The power will come, but his strike zone command is why he was drafted. Many rank him higher then Adams, but curiously most prospect reports have them both changing positions. This is somewhat ironic, as these same prognosticators consider shortstop to be a weak position in Toronto. So let me get this idea straight – your shortstop is weak in the major leagues, so move your top two prospects to another position???? I have to say, I don't agree with the naysayers.

Hill - 2003 Dunedin
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
32 119 26 34 7 0 0 11 11 10 .286 .343 .345

1994 - Tilson Brito: Managed a short stay as a utility player. As much as Gonzalez was in the same ball park as Adams, Brito is as far from Hill as you can get. Brito hit over .270 only twice in his six year minor league career. He showed a decent eye, and had decent speed stealing 104 bases.

Dunedin:

Brad Hassey: Oddly enough, of the three shortstops mentioned so far he is the only one to have played in AAA, having been called up for 2 games in 02. Seven at bats and 2 hits later he was sent back down, as is often the case due to the proximity of Syracuse and Auburn. Hassey was an All Pac 10 star in his senior year and was the only player to play in every game. He led the team in hits, runs and steals. Hassey isn't much of a power threat as he didn't hit a home run in his first 3 collegiate campaigns.

Hassey - 2003 Charleston
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
98 338 34 64 17 0 0 25 32 62 .189 .272 .240

1994 - Tony Medrano: Called up to Dunedin after a torrid start in the Gulf Coast, but his claim to fame will remain being included in one of the David Cone deals. He hit .236 at Dunedin before being sent packing in that deal.

Other prospects for this year:

Eugenio Vancamper: should start the year at Charleston, but probably won't finish there. Once the draft picks come in, if Eugenio hasn't improved, he will be looking elsewhere.

Vancamper - 2003 Pulaski
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
50 186 20 48 7 2 2 24 8 49 .258 .291 .349

Juan Peralta: Four A ball stops have not shown anything to be overly excited about. He deserves a promotion to Dunedin, and due to lack of reserves may even end up as high as New Hampshire, but not worth looking to the future with.

Peralta - 2003 Auburn
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
71 288 62 71 14 1 3 30 43 50 .247 .346 .333

Manuel Mayorson: six A ball stops, and only one did he produce anything more then a .263 batting average. Has 62 steals in 99 attempts so that won't keep him on. Look for him wherever Peralta doesn't make it to, but expect them both to be chewing seeds on a bench.

Mayorson - 2003 Dunedin
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
106 363 39 83 14 0 0 30 25 36 .229 .282 .267

Raul Tablado: 25 minor league home runs, but nothing else to make you even look at his stats twice. Tablado may be the best of the four, but this is not select company to begin with.

Tablado - 2003 Charleston
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
61 226 29 43 10 1 6 26 25 69 .190 .272 .323
1994 reserves:

Brandon Cromer: A first round draft pick, that never really put it together, he was sent packing in the great Pittsburgh trade by Gord Ash, which was full of players and prospects who just didn't do a whole lot.

Fausto Solano: Six seasons in the minors, made it as far as 9 games in Syracuse. If Mayorson and company want to know what their future holds, no need for a crystal ball, just ask Fausto.

Kevin Witt: Yes the great one played his first year at Medicine Hat. Witt would find out professional shortstop is a bit different then prep ball. Is that a lesson for Hill, Adams, and/or Hassey? I don't think so. Witt went on to try third, first and the outfield, and has seen some good time and struggles in the pros. Don't they both come with Detroit…

Jose Maysonet: 84 games, 251 at bats, 54 hits, 19 steals, yawn.....Some guys just find themselves having a career like that, but at least they got there.


Lance@JaysTalk.com

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