Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Royals 2005 Preview: the Outfield, Part 2

To finish up the outfield, let's have a look at Eli Marrero, Matt Diaz, and David DeJesus.

Eli Marrero, 2004, Braves: .320/.374/.520, 10 HR, 250 at-bats

Aren't those just the prettiest percentages? Basking in the glow of an almost .900 OPS can make you miss the important things, like the fact that it was by far Marrero's best year in the bigs, the OPS is about 180 points above his career average, and that Marrero is already 31 years of age. And that stuff is very important, because it tells us that that performance isn't likely to be repeated. Adhering to the splits will help, as I believe Marrero could be a plenty fine hitter against left-handed pitching. His outfield defense is decent, though not spectacular by any means. Better than Stairs he is, says Yoda.

Matt Diaz, 2004, Devil Rays: .190/.292/.476, 1 HR in...21 at-bats

Only 21 ab's, so not enough to tell us much, though Diaz did manage to hit for the cycle through those ab's with a double and a triple thrown in. Let's throw in his AAA numbers from Durham:

.332/.375/.575, 21 HR in 503 at-bats

Alright, that certainly explains why Allard Baird picked this guy up. In my world, with the Royals' list of corner outfield candidates, I'd make sure this guy got at least 400 ab's with the big club. Terrence Long, Matt Stairs...is it a mystery as to what these guys will do? Marrero had a breakout season last year, but has nothing in his history to suggest a repeat. Diaz? He's got 30 major league at-bats, and a well-over .900 OPS in about 750 ab's at the AAA level. He's 26 years old, and plays decent outfield defense. He's also got base-stealing ability, having stolen 60 bases in three years of AA and AAA ball, nabbing 15 of 19 last year at Durham, good for over an over 75% success rate.

Sounds like he's ready for the big-time to me. How Baird continues to rack up these type of players for next-to-nothing is beyond me, but until Diaz it looked as if his powers only extended to pitching prospects -- Diaz proves this may not be the case. With Tony Pena at the managerial helm, however, I don't put Diaz much past 250 ab's, unless injury or extreme circumstance dictate otherwise. Here's to hoping the guy shows off.

David DeJesus, 2004: .287/.360/.402, 7 HR in 363 at-bats

No, not Carlos Beltran, but duplicating those numbers over 600 at-bats would be extremely nice. It's also very possible that DeJesus is better than those numbers, as he was clearly out of sorts when he was first called up to the big club, going 0-fer his first 21 at-bats, if memory serves correctly. His slugging percentage isn't too bad for a centerfielder at .402, but there is some minor league data that could be used to suggest that number projects to be higher -- his SLG % totals from the minors in the last three years read: .443, .472, and a nice .518 at triple A Omaha last season before getting the callup from Kansas City. His OBP is usually better than 73 points above his average, too, as DeJesus has been nothing less than an on-base machine throughout his minor league career.

So while a .762 OPS in a centerfielder's rookie season isn't bad, DDJ stands a good chance at settling in somewhere over .800, which would just be dandy for the Royals this season. The Achilles Heel on offense would continue to be his questionable base-stealing ability, as for his career DDJ stands about a 50/50 chance of successfully stealing -- meaning, in other words, he needs to figure it out or leave it alone. His defense could use some work as well. While not possessing great range to begin with, he was often cited as taking poor routes to the ball last year with the big club, something that could be attributable to learning the dimensions of Kaufmann Stadium. He'll likely never be more than a solid centerfielder anyway, but if he hits his offensive ceiling (he held close to a .900 OPS in the minors), it won't matter as much.

Alright, there you go -- unasked for, yet given -- the way-too-lengthy look at the 2005 Royals outfield.

As I originally promised this 2nd part on Saturday, and here it is Tuesday, I won't make any promises on the infield preview, though I should...should...should have it on this page within the next 3 days.

Love, Peace, and Hair Grease!

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