Friday, 11 December 2009

Farm Report 2009: The Second Basemen

After much delay, it’s time to get back to the positional review of Blue Jays prospects. You can find the previous column on First Basemen here. Tonight’s edition is all about Second Base. This position is a bit more of an academic exercise because the Jays are so well situated at 2B for the foreseeable future. Unless of course Aaron Hill moves to 3B in a few years. If you were only looking at internal options, you’d have to be tempted to do that because third isn’t exactly a position of strength for the team.

As before, let me acknowledge I am not a scout and all my information is second hand (at least) and statistical. The limited service I provide here is just to bring that info together under one heading.

(See the 2008 list here)

1. Brad Emaus: 3-28-1986 / 5'11", 210 / 11th Round 2007

In 2008, Brad Emaus blazed down the stretch and carried that hot performance right into the winter. The former college third baseman In his first full season of pro-ball, he played in Dunedin all year and posted a solid overall performance, with the most notable accomplishment being his 60 walks as opposed to 56 strikeouts. He also performed well in the spring and started off well this year in New Hampshire.

But in June of 2009 Emaus went absolutely ice cold. His OPS for the month was under .400! If you take that month out of his season, Emaus had pretty comparable seasons in 2009 and 2008. There’s a lot to like about Emaus. He’s not a high-ceiling type guy, but he is the sort of player who’s more likely to reach the ceiling he has. My guess is that ceiling looks something like Mark Ellis.

2. Scott Campbell: 9-25-1984 / 6'0", 190 / 10th Round, 2006

It was a very close call in my mind taking Emaus over Campbell. Offensively, they share many of the same qualities, although Emaus has shown somewhat more power, while Campbell has a generally higher batting average. Also, Campbell bats lefty while Emaus is right handed. The edge for Emaus comes in that there have been no cautionary reports on his defensive ability.

Campbell played all of 2008 at second and was said to be having some difficulty with the double play turn. He has, after all, had very little experience compared to most prospects given the dearth of organized ball in his native New Zealand. In 2009 the Jays spent a lot of innings mystifyingly trying to make a third baseman out of Campbell. I have no idea why given that pretty much no team ever puts a single/double hitting guy at third if they have a choice. I’m not sure if they know any more than they did before, though, because injuries pretty much wrecked Campbell’s 2009 campaign.

Campbell opened the season in Las Vegas but never got untracked offensively before the injuries set in. After his recovery he was bumped back to AA (where he spent 2008) but he’d spend more time disabled again in July. He hit well in June and August though, showing flashes of his ability and he still showed the excellent ability to get on base via the walk. The best comp for Campbell is still probably Frank Catalanotto (with more walks). I wouldn’t be that surprised to see Campbell thrown into a trade because it doesn’t look like there’s a question on the Jays roster for which Campbell is the answer.

3. John Tolisano: 10-7-1988 / 5'11", 190 / 2nd Round 2007

Tolisano is, of course, part of the (then) celebrated crop of promising high school hitters taken by the Jays in 2007. All of those upper round hitters have taken there lumps in the pros and Tolisin isn’t an exception. Some had speculated that his defense might result in a positional switch but he remains at second base in the jays system for now. Offensively his work in 2009 is pretty similar to what he did - at a lower level - in 2008. There were signs of improvement - a lower K rate and better slugging, and he was only 20 years old in High A ball. It’s not unrealistic to still believe Tolisano has a future, but like his classmates, a breakout year in 2010 would defiantly not go amiss. It is worth noting that like Emaus, Tolisano had one very bad month. In August his OPS was a measly .456 which is not the way you want to end your season.

4. Ryan Schimpf : 3-11-1988 / 5'9", 181 / 5th Round, 2009

Schempf is in a sense a classic low-round college pick. The word that springs to mind is “competent.” With such a limited sample of professional work, it’s hard to get a read on him at this point. We’ll know more a year from now.

Not really worthy of being listed, but a sentimental nod goes out to young Jon Fernandez. Tony’s boy is a 22 year old switch hitter who played second for the GCL Blue Jays and Auburn Doubledays this summer, but a combined OPS of .616 is pretty damning, given his age and level. Which is too bad.

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