Sean “Chone” Smith has applied his TotalZone defensive metric on minor league data for the past few years, although it didn’t become available until last year at MinorLeagueSplits.com. Recently updated data has become available for games up to July 31st. While every defensive metric have their own quirks (especially metrics that depend on scorekeepers coding of batted balls as “line drives” or “fly balls”), the quirks can only be heightened when not dealing with a full season.
I’d trust the scouting reports first, then go with two or better yet three seasons worth of data before making any hard conclusions on a minor leaguer’s glovework. Or better yet, go watch them yourself for a few games.
But for what it’s worth, let’s check out some of the Cardinals’ top prospects and how their TotalZone numbers look. It’s also important to know these numbers translate a better for infielders than outfielders. Let’s start with the up the middle positions first.
Pete Kozma, SS. +3 runs saved above average at SFG, +5 per 150 games. -4 at Palm Beach. Last year Pete was a +11/19 per 150. So his slumping has carried over into his defense, perhaps. He has piled up the errors with 20 in Springfield and 29 total on the season. Tough year for Pete all around, things are not looking great for the former 1st rounder.
Tyler Greene, SS. +4. Knows how to fill up a boxscore with steals, doubles, strikeouts and errors. Slick but inconsistent play, could be our starting SS next year. Glad to see he’s making himself into a decent piece rather than a 1st round bust.
Niko Vasquez, SS. -5, -12 per 150. Ugh. The fall is nearly complete. Niko was a shiny +18 per 150 last year in Johnson City with an even shinier .878 OPS. We thought we had a 3rd round steal. Now he looks like a 3rd round dud.
Donovan Solano, “SS”. I know someone will ask about Donovan because it’s easy to get sucked into how young he has been for his level and he’s hit for a decent albeit empty average. He feels older to me than 21 because he’s been in the system for a long time. -15 runs between Memphis and Springfield. Minus 15. Find someone else to get excited about.
Shane Robinson, CF. Hit Shane. Just hit. +8, +16 per 150.
Jim Rapoport, CF. Did you know he has more walks than strikeouts? 59-56. He’s recently taken on quite an impressively patient approach at the plate. And he’s a plus defender. +5, +8 per 150. Matt Baker told me over Twitter that some scouts compare his glove to Jim Edmonds. No, seriously.
Adron Chambers, CF. Former draft and follow is putting together a nice season at the plate (.292/.376/.414), +4 in CF for Palm Beach.
Daniel Descalso, 2B. +2, +4/150. Not hitting anymore since being called up to Memphis. Our excitement level peaked on this guy about a month ago. I’m still hopeful he makes the adjustment. Scouts think he could be an average 2B in the majors, if not a little above average. Here is what I really don’t understand. Why is Jarrett Hoffpauir hoarding up all the PT at 2B? Hoff is having a nice rebound year at the plate with his .887 OPS. But he’s 26 years old and looks more like a utility player than a regular. Hoff is a -4/-10 and was a -10 last year as well. He’s clearly the inferior prospect, if you can call him a prospect at his age, and yet Descalso gets regulated to the team’s utility infielder upon being promoted? Send him back down to Springfield and let him play 2B there.
Aaron Luna, 2B. Everyone’s favorite new sleeper is a -1 at 2B, not too bad. I was told by one official that he “has a ways to go defensively at 2B”.
Brett Wallace, 3B. Just be honest, you scrolled to find B-Dub first. +2 between Memphis, Springfield and *sigh* Sacramento. That’s right, he hasn’t been a total butcher at 3B. In fact, he’s been a little above average. Maybe he could have stuck…/stirring pot.
Hobbled DJ Tools, LF +2, +5 per 150 playing with a bum knee. Last year at two levels was elite: +15.
Tyler Henley, RF +3, +6 per 150. Good season all around. Can’t wait to see what he does in Memphis next year.
Jon Jay, OF +3 in CF, +6 in LF. After struggling much of the season, in the last 28 days he’s hitting .296/.348/.444.
Shane Peterson, RF +5 between SFG and PB. Since the trade, Peterson is hitting .340/.390/.547 for Double-A Midland.
(Hitting stats current through Saturday)