Feb 11th, 2010
Sean Smith’s TotalZone metric was recently updated over at minorleaguesplits.com to incorporate the second half of the season. I’m gong to take a look at the Sox’ top positional prospects to see how their defense grades out by the numbers, and then compare that to the scouting reports.
Note: catchers not included
1. Jared Mitchell, OF
-5 runs for Jared Mitchell in a small sample size (34 games) doesn’t sound great, but you have to remember that he didn’t play centre field in college and so the adjustment may take some time. The scouting reports are very positive as Mitchell’s speed allows him to cover a lot of ground and get to balls that other centre fielders could only dream of reaching. Kannapolis manager Ernie Young was quoted as saying “He takes control in center field like he’s been playing professionally for a while.”
2. Dayan Viciedo, 3B/1B
Much has been made of Dayan Viciedo’s poor defensive ability, but as you can see, TotalZone likes him and had him pegged as a +4 run fielder over 130 games. It is expected that Viciedo will make the transition to first base this year, likely starting at Charlotte, and he certainly made his fair share of errors last year, but TZ indicates he may have had a future at 3B. The scouts disagree citing his lack of range and concentration as his main flaws.
3. Jordan Danks, OF
Jordan Danks’ defensive performances have been something of a mixed bag going by TotalZone. For the year he was a -2 run defender in centre field and a -1 run defender in left field. Last year he was a +2 run defender in CF, which would make him a fairly neutral defender (+0 runs) career in CF (107 games). The scouting reports are more positive however with Baseball America saying “he the range and instincts to play center field.” He may never be the gold glover that some people seem to expect, but he should prove a very capable defensive outfielder.
4. Brent Morel, 3B
Brent Morel is a case of stats and scouting coming together perfectly to form the same conclusion on a player. Morel’s TotalZone at 3B this year was an impressive +9 runs (128 games). The scouting reports indicate that Morel has good agility and quickness at the position with a plus arm. I’m still not convinced that Morel has the power that you would typically want from your third baseman but his defensive ability should make up for any shortcoming that he may have with the bat.
5. Trayce Thompson, OF
As with Jared Mitchell, there isn’t anywhere near enough data to draw any real conclusions on Trayce Thompson’s defensive ability but to stop people from asking about him, I decided to just include him. Thompson’s TotalZone in 31 games playing centre was +2 (+9.7 per 150). The scouting reports state that Thompson has the range to play centre with the arm to play right. As he fills out I’d expect Trayce to make the gradual shift to RF, but for now he should be a very adequate CF.
6. C.J. Retherford, 2B
Retherford moved from third base to second base last year and he held his own considering it was a new position to him, however, the -2 TZ that Retherford posted at 2B was a lot worse than what he managed at 3B over the previous two years, where he ranked as a +13 run defender. I don’t mind the shift in position though as I see him as a future utility man meaning that defensive flexibility is a must for him, there is even talk that he will see time at catcher during spring training. The scouting reports indicate that Retherford is an average defensive 2B, who doesn’t have the range to play SS, which sounds pretty accurate to me.
7. John Shelby, OF
John Shelby fell out of favour with most message boarders this past year due to his lack of offense, but his defense in the outfield has gotten progressively better since he made the transition in ’07 according to TotalZone. In ’07 Shelby was a -10 run defender, in ’08 a +4 run defender and in ’09 a +15 run defender. The scouting reports aren’t quite as complimentary, however, as they indicate that Shelby is more of a league average defender.
8. Christian Marrero, 1B/OF
Christian, the lesser-hyped Marrero brother, has steadily produced since being drafted in 2005 and is starting to force himself onto the prospect radar. Marrero hasn’t yet found a defensive home as he has split his time between RF, LF and 1B, but if this year is anything to go by, the outfield looks like his better position. In 84 games playing the outfield his TotalZone was an impressive +10 runs as compared to his -7 runs playing 36 games at 1B. There don’t seem to be many scouting reports floating around on Marrero’s defensive ability, but I have heard that he has the arm to play RF and Buddy Bell reportedly likes him a lot.
9. Stefan Gartrell, OF
Prior to this year Gartrell’s TotalZone numbers were pretty good, with him coming in at +17 runs between 06 and 08. This year, however, his TotalZone was a terrible -15 runs in right field (107 games). This poor performance last year is likely due to random fluctuation caused by a small sample size and deferring to his career average should give us a better idea of his defensive ability. The scouting reports paint him as an average defender at best.
10. Eduardo Escobar, SS
Eduardo Escobar has drawn rave reviews for his defensive ability from scouts and it’s just as well because he doesn’t project to be much more than a contact hitter with the bat. Scouts cite Escobar’s good range, excellent hands and a solid arm as his main strengths. TotalZone agrees with the scouts as Escobar scores well by this metric. Last year he was a +7 run defender at short and for his career he is +17 runs above average at SS (194 games). Escobar has drawn comparisons to both Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Guillen. While I wouldn’t expect him to be anywhere near as good defensively as Vizquel, he is that type of player (all glove, no bat).