As noted elsewhere, after a very active draft season, I’m reviewing the organization’s prospect depth by position—both because it’s fun, and so that I can spend some time getting my head around all these guys. It’s a lot of work, probably…and we’ll see how far I get. I’ll probably do some form of depth charts. These will be my views rather than the game’s views. Bottom line, I still don’t trust OOTP’s algorithms particularly far when it comes to determining overall values of players. This means your mileage may vary relative to mine. I’ll focus on the prospects, and probably go into some fringy guys, too. I’m not going to list every single player in the organization, but by talking about some guys I’m guessing that I’ll expose the depths of the fact that I tend to see more players as prospects than the average guy—just like I’ll discount some players at the top end when they are young (assuming that they’ll bust some), I’ll often look at a younger guy missing some things and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Plan for success, I always say, and adjust down.
OVERALL ASSESSMENT AT SHORTSTOP
At the major league level, we’re pretty much all-in on Miguel Padilla right now. He’s a solid little player, decent bat with good contact, certainly workable range. But he’s got an error machine in his glove. It results in highly unstable defense—brilliant at times, doggy at times. Rookie Alejandro Rodriguez can play in a pinch, but he’s no shortstop. I was using Joaquin Torres (all glove, no bat) as my backup before he got Rule-5ed away. If need be, I suppose I can dig down deep into my organization to find a guy like him for a short stint.
Anyway, here’s how I see our organization depth chart today:
A – Dong-po Thum (*****) – RHB 10/10/6/6/10 (8/8/12/7 Def)
R – Luis Pena – (**.5) RHB 6/7/4/5/7 (10/11/8/11 Def) << NEW
AAA - Tai hoi Zhu (**) – RHB 7/7/4/6/8 (7/6/8/8 Def)
SA - Roberto Viramontas (**.5) – RHB 7/8/3/6/8 (8/6/9/7 Def)
AA - Bernardo Sanchez (*.5) – RHB 5/6/5/3/7 (10/7/9/11 Def)
Seeing Dong-po Thum as a shortstop is a slight stretch, but in fact we are hoping for a bump in range. It’s not impossible. If we don’t get it, Thumb becomes a Gold Glove caliber third baseman. But, if he gets it, Thum is perhaps a Hall of Famer in the making. Yes, I know that’s a heavy weight to put on a 19-year-old who is just now starting to hit in A-ball. But the good news is that Thum has made it to 19 without losing anything (he says, knowing what a jinx sound like). Let’s face it: the guy’s weakness is that he’s only a league average power hitter. His patience is pretty good, and of course he pings the scale pretty much everywhere else.
So, yeah. Shortstop. For the Win.
I’m jumping ahead of myself right now, but given that he’s a product of China, there’s a reasonable chance that he could team with Tai Hoi Zhu, who currently is #3 on the shortstop depth chart, but #1 on the second base listing (for reasons of Thum), and is another native from China to make up what I’m guessing would be the first Far Eastern double play combination in league history. That would be cool…but let’s not do something for optics above real value. Time will tell.
The “real” # on the shortstop dept chart is new draftee Luis Pena. This is because at only 17 he could already boarderline as the best defensive shortstop in the organization (and he’ll get better), but his bat is projected to grow into one that will at least hold his own. Add in his intangibles are solid, and you’ve got a guy who I really look forward to. The only way I could love him more is if her were a true switch hitter.
I talked about Viramontas as a second baseman. My guess is that he’s a more natural third sacker, so I’ll add him onto that list, too. But we’re watching how he grows this year. He play short in Rookie ball last year. He could wind up playing there in the majors—though is seems obvious that if this becomes the answer, we’ve had a few other things fall through. Such is baseball, though. It’s all about options and depth.
Finally, a few words about Bernardo Sanchez (21), who we picked up with another guy in the John Charbonneau deal a couple seasons back. He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop, and he hits a twee bit. He really needs a bump to be a real prospect, but his glove is good enough that he could spend a few games in the bigs in a pinch even if he doesn’t get a bump.
DARK HORSE: RHB Manuel Rios (4/5/3/5/4 – 9/10/10/10) and Jose Moran (4/5/3/5/4 – 10/10/9/11), platoon in short A, and both are brilliant defenders in search of ab big bump.