Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Scanning the System: Third Base

Most people have heard the old saying "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect." Is there such a thing as a third base prospect? Looking at Tigers' third basemen in recent past, you'd have to say the answer is a big resounding "No!" Carlos Guillen, currently manning the position, came up as a shortstop. Miguel Cabrera even was signed as a shortstop, and stayed there until just prior to reaching the major leagues. Brandon Inge was a catcher, converted from shortstop. Eric Munson was a catcher, who was converted to first base, who then converted to third base. Even Travis Fryman was brought up as a shortstop and was only moved to third base to accommodate the greatest shortstop in team history. There is no doubt that the Tigers lack third base prospects, but it is probably true that if you want to look at who may be manning the hot corner in the future, that player may not be there right now. Now, a look at all of the third basemen.


Carlos Guillen, 32
Actual: .284/.364/.426
Expected: .263/.344/.405

Brandon Inge, 31
Actual: .221/.322/.368
Expected: .263/.357/.410

Carlos Guillen's defensive woes have been very transparent, but his offense has tailed off significantly since last summer. He's at the age and physical condition where decline seems probable. Keep an eye out. Brandon Inge would be in the lineup if he hit more. Instead, he's one heck of a utility man.

Mike Hessman, 30
Actual: .288/.377/.699
Expected: .257/.351/.668

Only 51% of Hessman's plate appearances end up in play. Between all of the homers, walks, and strikeouts, the Tigers have the perfect incarnation of Rob Deer. Except this Rob Deer can play a mean third base. If Sheffield ever goes onto the DL, Guillen to DH and Hessman to third base would be an intriguing short term move.

Kody Kirkland, 24
Actual: .200/.280/.280
Expected: .210/.288/.290

Max Leon, 23
Actual: .291/.417/.326
Expected: .251/.307/.186

Kirkland has fallen off of a cliff, if he had climbed a cliff. He's really fallen down the steps... okay, down a step. Now in his third year at Erie with disappearing power, it appears as if Kirkland has reached the end of the road. Leon's a utility guy who counts as a third baseman using my system. He's a solid upper level utility guy, nothing more.

Michael Bertram, 24
Actual: .295/.353/.390
Expected: .228/.294/.323

Santo De Leon, 24
Actual: .282/.282/.394
Expected: .155/.155/.267

Louis Ott, 23
Actual: .293/.327/.391
Expected: .260/.296/.358

Nothing to see here.

West Michigan:
Ronnie Bourquin, 23
Actual: .217/.320/.310
Expected: .132/.249/.225

Roger Tomas, 22
Actual: .324/.378/.426
Expected: .236/.305/.338

Kody Kaiser, 23
Actual: .286/.345/.438
Expected: .245/.311/.400

So Bourquin has effectively been passed by an undrafted middle infielder. On top of that, he's been playing some first base. Not only can he not hack it at the plate, fielding seems to be a challenge as well. If the book hasn't closed on Mr. Bourquin yet, he will soon. Tomas and Kaiser are nice utility guys who probably are destined for the minor leagues.

VSL Tigers:
Fernando Martinez, 17
Actual: .231/.286/.231
Expected: .193/.250/.193

There has been some hype around Martinez. The VSL season is just a week old, so it's far too soon to jump to negative conclusions with him. Watch scouting reports over numbers at such low levels. It's hard to get an accurate read of performance.

Overall, the Tigers don't have much in the way of third base prospects. Hessman looks like he could fill in if needed, but after that things are barren. Have no fear, though, as third basemen can often come from other positions.

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