While the offseason is still in its early stages there are a lot of questions where teams will go to fill their holes. For the Atlanta Braves we have heard the rumors and seen their actions (i.e. trading Derek Lowe) to try and shed some payroll to give themselves flexibility. It’s no secret that they need to add some punch to their lineup, especially in the outfield.
They also have a void at shortstop with Alex Gonzalez a free agent, but that is one spot they could chose to fill from within. One of the options to step into the role is Tyler Pastornicky, who actually joined the organization as an afterthought in the deal that brought Gonzalez to Atlanta (and sent Yunel Escobar to Toronto).
Pastornicky split time between Double and Triple-A in 2011 hitting .314 with 7 HR, 45 RBI, 65 R and 27 SB. One of his biggest assets is his ability to consistently make contact, posting an impressive strikeout rate of 9.16%. Couple that with his speed and there is a little bit of intrigue in his potential as a future #2 hitter for the Braves.
Unfortunately when looking at his numbers, there isn’t much else to get us excited. His ability to make contact did not lead to an increased OBP, as he managed just a 6.52% walk rate. He showed little in the ways of driving the baseball, with just 15 doubles, 5 triples and 7 home runs. For a team that is in need of an offensive boost, are those numbers encouraging?
The numbers were actually an improvement for Pastornicky, who posted a .414 slugging percentage in 2011. For his minor league career his slugging percentage is just .374.
Baseball America, who recently ranked him as the team’s seventh best prospect, had this to say about him:
“He has a good feel for hitting and makes consistent line-drive contact, though he could stand to draw a few more walks. He doesn’t have a lot of strength, but he has a quick bat and could develop gap power. Pastornicky has plus speed and the aptitude to steal bases.”
The speed is going to be the key for Pastornicky, who has stolen as many as 57 bases in a season. With that type of potential he could create a lethal one-two punch at the top of the order along with Michael Bourn. They could wreak havoc for opposing pitchers and catchers, creating opportunities for Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann and company.
The former fifth round draft pick will be 22-years old at the start of the season and with just 104 AB spent at Triple-A the Braves could instead opt to give him a little bit more seasoning. If he does get the opportunity to play he will have low-end fantasy appeal. There’s no guarantee that the Braves use him in the second spot initially (or even give him an opportunity there at all in 2011), trying to limit the pressure on the rookie. Considering his lack of pop if he’s not hitting near the top of the order his value is going to be extremely minimal.
How many runs can he possibly score without the big bats hitting behind him? Sure, his average isn’t going to kill you and he can chip in 20-25 stolen bases, but he’ll bring little help in HR, RBI and R. That’s not so appealing, is it?
Consider him a low-end option and a flier to fill your middle infield spot in yearly formats (though he’s much better suited to be drafted as a bench player) assuming he is handed the starting job. There is some potential, so he is worth stashing, but he needs to add more extra base potential to fully realize what he can do.
What are your thoughts of Pastornicky? Do you think he could hold value in 2012? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out our other Prospect Reports: