by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The news broke yesterday that Rymer Liriano would be recalled to join the Padres. Always considered an intriguing prospect with both power and speed, what type of impact can we expect for the remainder of 2014?
The first question Liriano needed to answer was how he was going to respond after missing all of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery. We are going to throw out his performance in 15 games since being promoted to Triple-A, considering his .467/.536/.683 slash came courtesy of a .609 BABIP. We all know it’s an inflated mark and is impossible to replicate. He was solid at Double-A earlier this season, though, hitting .264 with 14 HR and 17 SB.
Speed has always been his strongest asset, with as many as 66 SB in a minor league season. However he’s not likely going to hit near the top of the Padres order, at least not initially, so you have to wonder how many opportunities to run he will really get. The speed is there, however, so he should kick in a few at least.
While he has been regarded as a five-tool prospect, there are definitely questions to his game. Just take this preseason scouting report from Baseball America, who ranked him as the team’s sixth best prospect:
“Liriano flashes all five tools, highlighted by plus raw power to all fields, arm strength and range in right field. His power will play better in games if he makes more contact and once he plays in a more favorable park for righthanded power. He hit only one of his eight home runs, while slugging .397, in home games at high Class A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio in 2012. Shaky pitch recognition, though, may mean Liriano never hits for a high average. A solid runner, he chooses his spots well and has swiped 30 bases, including a high of 66 in 2011, in each season from 2010-12. Scouts expect him to fill out and lose a tick of speed, though that won’t prevent him from being a strong defender.”
His strikeout rate was at 24.6% at Double-A this season (23.8% in 202 PA back in 2012). It’s easy to imagine that number increasing with the jump to the Majors, so his average potential is already going to be in doubt.
His power? That’s another question, especially heading to Petco Park. As it is he owns a 27.6% OFB rate in the minors since 2011 and he failed to hit a home run in his 69 PA in the Pacific Coast League. While the power potential may be there, don’t expect him to be a major source of home runs down the stretch.
That becomes even more of a question as we look at where he may fit into the lineup. Is he even guaranteed regular AB? You would think so… The team has Cameron Maybin out on suspension and Carlos Quentin on the DL. Still, Seth Smith, Will Venable and Tommy Medica are all solid options with Abraham Almonte and Alexi Amarista also in the mix. Maybe Medica gets moved to 1B, instead of Yonder Alonso? No one would complain about that decision, but we need to see it to believe it.
He’s obviously going to play as he offers more upside than many of those players, but expect a few days off here and there. Throw in the potential to struggle with average and power, while the opportunities to run could be limited, and in redraft formats there’s reason to stay away. The overall upside is definitely there, but he’s hardly a given to produce,
Sources – Minor League Central, Baseball Reference, Baseball America
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