Our Postseason Grades series continues as Reuben takes a look at up-and-coming shortstop Ehire Adrianza.
It’s kind of weird to think about, but for a while Adrianza was considered a better prospect than Brandon Crawford. 18 months younger and lacking anything resembling power, he nevertheless dogged Craw’s heels throughout the minors thanks to a much lower strikeout rate, impressive footspeed, and a glove generally perceived to be even better. His likely path to the majors is similar – hit just enough to not be a total embarrassment, and make up for it by hoovering every ground ball in his general zip code.
Adrianza spent most of the year on Richmond’s AA squad doing a Manny Burriss impression at the plate. Upon promotion to Fresno, he posted numbers that, while strong even by the standards of the hitterish Pacific Coast League (Fangraphs grants him a 130 wRC+, or 30% better than the average PCL hitter), were inflated by a .391 BABIP and six triples* in 145 ABs. Either way, it was enough for a cup of coffee.
(*Not to knock Ehire, but minor-league triples can bear a suspicious resemblance to Little League inside-the-parkers.)
20 PAs and 45 defensive innings isn’t much to rate, but this play to nail Yasiel “Large Hadron Supercollider” Puig provided a good example of Adrianza’s defensive capabilities – great first step, good range, hellacious throwing arm. He also hit a dinger to ruin Andy Pettite’s last start in Yankee Stadium, so he’s got that going for him. Great defense, above-average speed, not much at the plate, fluky power in a hitter’s park – 9 games of Ehire Adrianza writ small. And hey, he’s already matched Burriss for career homers, so if you set that as a baseline his future looks bright.
Verdict: Ehire made no great strides, but didn’t go backwards. His total lack of pop might condemn him to a future as a utility infielder in the Cliff Pennington mold; then again, in today’s ballgame, Zack Cosart and Alcides Escobar are starting shortstops for conceivable contenders. (Of course, so’s Pete Kozma). Only 24 to start the 2014 season, he should be back in Fresno trying to develop that “keep-pitchers-honest” kind of power and maybe honing his glovework at 2nd and 3rd if the Giants think he’s more likely to help the big club in a reserve role.