Name: Adeiny Hechavarria
Acquired: Signed as free agent in April 2010
Opening Day age: 22
Height/weight: 5’11”/180 lbs
Best/worst tool: Fielding/bat
Risk factor: Low
Hechavarria is the prototypical all-glove no-bat shortstop. His defensive skills -– the best in Toronto’s system, and some of the best in all of minor league baseball -– have lived up to the hype that earned him a 10-million dollar Major League deal that included a Toronto-record 4-million dollar signing bonus. He has above average athleticism, a quick first step, and incredible instincts, giving him a ridiculous range at shortstop. Not only can he get to the ball, but his soft hands ensure he rarely misplays it -– a true plus-plus defender. His arm is fringe-plus, so there is no concern he’ll ever need to move to second base. Hechavarria has raised the arm slot on his throws, as he too often threw sidearm, giving him almost two-seam fastball action and causing difficulties for his other infielders. As previously mentioned, he has above average athleticism and speed, but his baserunning skills leave a lot to be desired. The potential is there for 20+ stolen bases, but unless he improves in that regard he may rarely be given the green light. His power is fringe-average, but it plays well as a shortstop. Over a full season he could rack up 10-12 home runs with plenty of doubles and triples. At the plate, Hechavarria has an open stance and quick hands. He gets the bat through the zone with a level swing but is overly aggressive, giving him below average contact skills. He was tried as a leadoff hitter in an effort to increase his at-bats, but the discipline simply isn’t there for it to be a permanent role. Hechavarria is still young and could improve in that regard, but it seems likely he’s ticketed for the bottom of the lineup.
2011 Statistics and Analysis
(AA) 464 AB, .235/.275/.347 (.622 OPS), 22 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 19 SB, 25/78 BB/K
(AAA) 108 AB, .389/.431/.537 (.968 OPS), 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 8/21 BB/K
In his second professional season stateside, Hechavarria began where he left off in 2010 – Double-A. Despite repeating the level, his 2011 numbers (.622 OPS) were actually significantly worse than his 2010 numbers (.665 OPS). Hechavarria was expected to have a rough bat, but his lack of significant development over two full seasons is concerning. His power and plate approach have improved – his ISO and BB% have gone from dreadful to acceptable (for a middle infielder) – but the contact skills are still lacking. After yet another undeserved promotion, Hechavarria actually performed admirably over the final month of the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. Whether the results were 51’s hitting coach Chad Mottola unlocked something in his swing or a case of small sample size and park factors is up for debate, but his .471 BABIP in Triple-A suggests it’s probably the latter.
Expected 2012 Assignment: Triple-A Las Vegas
His glove alone will get him to the Major Leagues, likely at some point this season. Yunel Escobar is the better player and has shortstop locked down for the next 2-4 years, so a possible starting role in the near future isn’t clear. Hechavarria is more than good enough defensively to play second base, but his bat simply isn’t good enough to make that a worthwhile move in the long run. Toronto has no other middle infield prospects ready to break into the show, so Hechavarria has some time to figure things out offensively without being leapfrogged on the depth chart. For now though, he is ticketed for a return to Triple-A Las Vegas, and will await an injury to the infield.
Perfect World Projection: Everyday shortstop who hits 8th or 9th in the lineup and regularly contends for Gold Glove awards.