Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Prospect Profile: Yunel Escobar

Name: Yunel Escobar
Age: 23
Pos: SS
Height: 6-2
Weight: 200
Bats: R
Throws: R

Yunel Escobar was selected in the 2nd round of 2005's draft by the Braves. Yunel defected from Cuba to become eligible for the draft. His age scared most teams away as they did not think he had enough time to develop. But it was obvious that he was a skilled player which is why the Braves took a chance on him in the 2nd round. If anything, at least he wouldn't take too much time in the minors. Yunel began 2005 in the Appalachian League with Danville but proved that he was out of their league. He hit .400 with 2 homers and 8 RBI's in his short stay in rookie ball. He finished 2005 with Rome and was impressive there as well. In 198 at-bats, Yunel hit .313/.358/.470. He was progressing quickly just as Atlanta had hoped and expected from the 22-year-old first year player.

Escobar started the 2006 season in AA- Mississippi. His performance in Mississippi has been mixed so far. He is hitting .279 with an OBP of .379 which are very good numbers. His weaknesses have been power and defense. He may not project with a lot of power but a drop in slugging from .470 to .375 is not too great. He has also made a lot of errors and shortstop. The Braves have started him at third base for a handful of games this season in an attempt to improve his defense. The Braves would like to see him remain at shortstop but he will have to improve his defense to make that happen.

The ceiling for Yunel is not nearly as high as Elvis Andrus. Yunel was old for someone just drafted but did have some development from his playing days in Cuba. Yunel isn't great at anything but is good at everything and has good on base skills. I think he projects as a possible starter at SS or 3B but can definitely make it as a utility infielder. He will have to improve his power numbers to start at third base and he will have to improve his defense if he wants to be a starter at SS. Edgar Renteria's contract is up after next year and it is thought that Atlanta would like Yunel Escobar to hold down shortstop until Elvis Andrus arrives.



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