Since being drafted as the seventh overall selection of the 2008 draft out of the University of Miami, there have been rumblings as to how the Reds would fit both Yonder Alonso and Joey Votto into their lineup. Would Votto move to the outfield? Could Alonso transition to another position?
Before the debate is settled, Alonso needs to prove that he can perform in the professional game. He failed to do so in ’09, splitting the majority of his time between Single & Double-A (he also spent six games in the Rookie League, though I’m not going to factor that into the statistics here). Let’s take a look at his Double-A numbers:
105 At Bats
.295 Batting Average (31 Hits)
2 Home Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.372 On Base Percentage
.457 Slugging Percentage
.322 Batting Average on Balls in Play
What you need to know:
- It’s not the average that’s a concern, having also hit .303 over 175 at bats in Single-A before being bumped up (with a realistic BABIP). It’s the power, hitting a total of 9 HR in ’09. He posted flyball rates of 36.1% in Single-A and 40.2% in Double-A, which certainly could translate into power, especially in Great American Ballpark.
- A broken hamate bone could have zapped him of his power, though it wasn’t like he didn’t produce extra base hits. In 280 at bats between Single and Double-A, he produced 24 doubles. If healthy, would it be a surprise to see some of those home runs start flying over the fence? I wouldn’t worry about his power in the least, at least not yet.
- What does concern me is his speed, which was described by Baseball America as “well-below-average”. That certainly could impact his ability to score runs at the major league level. He scored just 33 runs in his AB between Single and Double-A. Want to project him out for 600 AB? That’s just 71 runs scored. Obviously, more power and a better lineup will help, but right now it’ just not going to cut it among first basemen. In ’09 there were 21 Major League first basemen to score 71 runs or more.
- Baseball America, who ranked him as the Reds second best prospect heading into 2010, declared him the organizations best hitter for average as well as having the best strike-zone discipline.
- He struck out 45 times vs. 38 walks. That just shows you how great his plate discipline really is.
- Given Votto’s continued presence at first base, you have to think that Alonso is still a year away from making an impact. It’s not like they can just move Votto to the outfield mid-season.
I know many people are concerned about his power, but there’s plenty there to ease concerns. If he wasn’t producing extra base hits, I’d be worried. If he struggled without having been injured, there’d be concerns. That’s just not the case, however. The doubles number alone tells me that the power will be there, all you have to do is give him time.
The bigger concerns are his ability to score runs and his potential playing time. The latter will work itself out, sooner or later, whether he stays in Cincinnati or gets traded. The former is more concerning, but in a better lineup and with more power, he should still prove average, at worst, in the category.
Add in his ability to put the ball in play and generate an impressive average and what isn’t there to like? If you are in a long-term keeper league, he’s certainly worth stashing. While he likely won’t make an impact until 2011, the impact could be a big one.
What are your thoughts on Alonso? Will the Reds be able to find playing time for him? Is the power a concern?
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For more looks at prospects, you can check out the following articles: