Let’s continue looking at a few interesting prospects over the winter. Next up is OF Aaron Luna. Luna was drafted by the Cardinals in the 9th round of the 2008 MLB draft out of Rice. He played in the infield for the Rice Owls, but his professional future would lie in the outfield.
In his first partial season in professional baseball, he started out in Quad Cities as a 21 year old and basically mashed. He had a wOBA of .429 over 82 at-bats even though his batting average was only .234. That gives any early idea of the kind of power that Aaron Luna could produce. He was promoted to Palm Beach in August and never got adjusted to high A in only 13 games. He struck out 8 times and had an OPS of .383. Aaron probably wants to forget that stint, so we will as well. Luna played in the outfield in every game that season. He went to the Instructional league that offseason to work on playing 2B again.
In 2009, he was returned to Quad Cities and he only played 6 games before being moved back to Palm Beach. Back in the place where he had a disappointing end to his first professional season and played much better. He had a wOBA of .393 over 54 games. He continued his high OBP ways, even though he still struck out 22% of his at-bats. A high OBP combined with a ISO slugging of .231 got a promotion to Springfield for Luna in his age 22 season. Luna actually played a majority of his games in Palm Beach at second base, which made us reach quickly to our paper bags as we dreamt of a second baseman with that kind of power and on-base capability. But, when he was moved to Springfield, he was used almost exclusively in the outfield. He ended the season with Springfield and OPS’ed .782 but continued to keep his high OBP at .362 even though is average was below .235.
The rest of Luna’s career after the jump.
Luna’s strong 2009 lead him to start out the season where he ended the previous season, in Springfield and Luna made a marketed improvement in his stats in every category. He had a wOBA of .418 in 103 games in Springfield. (418!) He was absolutely throttling the ball with 15 HRs and an ISO slugging of .201. But, his on-base abilities did not decline either as he walked 15.4% of his plate appearances. His strikeouts continued at the same level with 22.9%. He is still striking out more than he is walking, but with an OPS of .891, some things can be forgiven. This season was elevated by a shocking 18% line drive rate. But with a .302 BABIP, one could even say he got unlucky based on how many line drives he hit in 2010. The unfortunate part of his time in Springfield in 2010 is that he only got 6 games at 2B. So, after a 1 year experiment with a lot of games at 2B, Luna was moved back to outfield and as it seems permanently. Luna was promoted to Memphis for most of July and never really caught on and was moved back to Springfield. However, Luna’s strong LD% followed him to Memphis (16.1%) , but his BABIP did not (.233). In a small sample size of 52 plate appearances in Memphis, it looks like Luna got fairly unlucky in the small time in AAA.
Aaron Luna is so much more valuable as a second baseman, but based on his one year return to the infield, the Cardinals do not think he will be able to stick there and his future is in the outfield. However, if he continues to hit like he did in Springfield in 2010, he will still have some value in the outfield. That being said, considering he probably is limited to left field in the outfield and the Cardinals have Matt Holliday locking that position down for the next several years, he is going to be blocked for the near future. If he switched back to second, is he as bad defensively as Skip Schumaker? There is no way to tell, but I would consider them to be in a similar range on the defensive scale at second. Unless Luna can suddenly convince the Cardinals brass that he can play second base at a major league level, his future probably exists as a Jack Cust-like three true outcomes DH for an American League team.