As InsidePitchMagazine.com continues its rankings of specific tools, we turn to the position players…
Analyzing the Second Basemen
Greg Veloz: Veloz rebounded in a big way from an inconsistent 2007 season by improving throughout the year on his way to receiving a Sterling Award in Savannah. After hitting .224 in 132 games split between Kingsport and Savannah in 2007, he won the second base job right out of camp. It appeared Veloz would repeat his similar production after a very bumpy April, but he went on to rake South Atlantic League pitching and finish the year with a .286 average, six home runs and 52 RBI.
Defensively, there are still steps for him to climb to become a big league caliber second baseman, but his swing is clean and he drives the ball to the gaps with authority. His balance as a switch-hitter, speed and ability to steal bases add further value to his stock. He tallied 21 games with St. Lucie at the end of the year and figures to begin the new season there. Though just 20 years old, Veloz has the strong array of tools to currently lead the pack.
Closest to the Majors:
Emmanuel Garcia: Garcia's production has slipped with each advancing stage, but the soon to be 23-year-old could open the year in Triple-A after hitting .243 in 104 games with Binghamton last year. However, he heated up as the season went on as he hit .217/.218/.266/.304 April through July respectively before injury cut short his season. His extra-base power and bat speed are limited, and his stock has fallen in recent years, but he has the fortune over being atop the depth chart to begin the season. He could be passed in the near future, yet for now has the inside track.
Josh Satin: The 2008 6th round pick had a strong first season as he hit .303 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 48 games—the majority of which came in Brooklyn. He enters the system a bit behind the eight ball as he turned 24 years old during the winter, but his bat could make him a fast mover. He is still adapting to breaking pitches at the next level, but can hit fastballs with the best of any infielder in the system. He is a true play maker with excellent range and a good arm, but softer hands will clean up any inconsistencies in a generally strong defensive game.
Make His Move:
Hector Pellot: A season-ending injury could not have come at a worse time for Pellot. Coming off a successful 2007 season in which he hit .275 with eight home runs and 37 RBI in Savannah, he was poised to accomplish more in St. Lucie until a hip injury truncated his season in late May.
He returned to action in the Puerto Rican Winter League but only appeared in three games and went hitless in two at-bats. Pellot [ranked 22nd in the 2007 Top 50 ranking] would benefit from a hot start if he is to regain his traction and re-assert himself as a leading option at the position. Do not rule him out to begin the year in Binghamton.
Jury Is Still Out:
Alonzo Harris: Harris, the 39th round pick in the 2007 draft, got off to a late start after not signing his contract until August 15th [the deadline for draftees to sign] which eliminated any chance of him playing that season. He finally debuted in 2008 in the Gulf Coast League as a 19-year-old and posted strong numbers with a .308 average, five home runs and 15 RBI.
His best tool is his top flight speed, but he is very raw with the glove and needs work at the plate even given his numbers. Despite missing out on his first season, his youth gives him time to harness his strengths and improve his weaknesses. Harris is expected to return to rookie ball next season, but could compete for a spot in Savannah during Spring Training.
Kyle Suire: Suire is another late-round draft pick who posted impressive numbers during his first season. The 2008 35th round pick hit .297 with nine home runs and 36 RBI, but scouts are waiting to see him transfer that success at a higher level.
Suire can best be compared to previous Kingsport second baseman Michael Parker in the sense that they are both hard-nosed players, but Suire's limited tools—like Parker—could lower his value in the long-season leagues. He has a strong arm and may need to show the ability to move to shortstop or third base to add value. However, the start to his 2009 season will have to wait as it was reported that Suire recently failed a test for performance enhancing drugs.
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