All signs, before free agency truly heats up, mind you, point to the ageless wonder Juan Uribe getting the nod at third and recently signed Cuban defector shortstop Alexander Guerrero starting at second base.
Guerrero, 26, is listed at 5’10, 205 pounds and has plus raw power. His frame, average range in the field, and average arm put him more in line to switch to second base for the Dodgers, he and could start there right out of the gate.
The two-time Cuban All-Star got off to a slow start during his career in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, considered the top league on the island, but in the last four years of his eight-year Cuban career, Guerrero put up some pretty nice numbers (below).
|Per 550 PA:||550||87||33||112||1||9.7||12.8||.331||.405||.733|
There’s no doubt Guerrero has potential, but how well will his skills and stat line carry over to Major League Baseball? Cuban defectors are often hard to predict as little information is provided on them and there’s little context compare their results in Cuba to the U.S., but maybe the Dodgers and fantasy owners alike can catch lightning in a bottle in 2014. Does Yasiel Puig ring any bells?
Why Guerrero Might Break Out
- Scouts peg him at plus raw power with agent Scott Boras comparing him to the likes of Dan Uggla with a better BA
- Has shown noticeable progression in his 8 seasons in Cuba
- Good bat speed, especially on inside pitches
- Chance to make immediate impact in a strong Dodgers lineup
- Excellent K/BB ratio shows discipline, contrary to typical “swing yourself off the island” approach
Why Guerrero Might NOT Break Out
- Stocky frame could limit him defensively (leads to playing time)
- Quick feet but will not provide steals
- How will his game translate to the longer 162-game MLB season?
- Will the Dodgers make a free agent acquisition that will hinder his playing time? (Howie Kendrick — link)
What Scouts Say
From Ben Badler at Baseball America:
Several teams aren’t convinced he has the ability to either reach the majors or stick there as an everyday player, but whatever team signs him will probably see him as an offensive-oriented second baseman.
Offense: Physically strong, right-handed hitter t 5’10”, 205 pounds; employs a crouched stance with a wide base and starts with hands at eye level; toe-tap load allows him to utilize strong lower half; quiet stride; hits off a firm front side; above-average-to-plus bat speed thanks to strong wrists and forearms; easy, raw pop, especially to the pull side; gets the barrel to the ball and generates impressive extension after contact; tendency to wrap his bat and dip on the backside at times; has quick feet and moves well but won’t be a base stealer.
Defense: Average athleticism; still moves well despite thicker lower half; may lose a step as he ages; versatile and instinctual defender with quick hands and flashy glove; fast transfer and release; decent body control; actions are too stiff for clean projection at shortstop; average range and arm strength suggests a future at second base.
2014 Fantasy Outlook
I would without a doubt give Guerrero mid-to-late round consideration come draft day.
Where would you draft a player with this line: .290/.402/.576, 32 HR, 78 RBI over 500 AB? If you took Guerrero’s last season in Cuba and spread it over 500 at bats, that would be the result.
Obviously, translating that into the majors over a true 162 games is next to impossible for a rookie, but consider that potential on a guy who has plus raw power and above average bat speed in a strong Dodgers lineup who happens to qualify at an increasingly shallow second base position.
There are many questions surrounding Guerrero — Will he get full playing time? How will his game translate to the majors? How will he respond to a longer season? — but I don’t think he’ll be a highly sought after player in 2014 drafts.
I do think we’ll see a noticeable amount of regression from his numbers in Cuba, and I think we could expect a .270/.360/.410 kind of line with 20 homers and 80 RBI at most — at least in 2014. With that kind of line, and if Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes are any indication of what a Cuban can do early in their major league career, I would without a doubt give Guerrero mid-to-late round consideration come draft day.
As of this writing, the Dodgers are reportedly interested in trading for Howie Kendrick. That doesn’t spell doom for Guerrero since Uribe is probably the worst infielder the team has, but it would add to the uncertainty surrounding Guerrero’s debut campaign.