Friday, July 1, 2011

MLB Prospect Scouting Report: Yonder Alonso

Yonder Alonso
Age: 24
Bats: Left
Height- 6’2”
Weight- 210lbs
From: The U (Miami) Reds 1st rounder in 2008

Reds first base prospect Yonder Alonso is a name you’ll likely hear as a potential trade chip before this month’s trade deadline.  The Reds have holes to fill and Alonso plays a position they have filled with a guy who I hear is pretty good, Joey Votto.  The Reds front office obviously likes Alonso’s bat enough that they’ve pumped coaching resources into his defensive development (more on that “development” later) but his progress was slowed when he broke his hand toward the tail end of 2009.  He didn’t fully recover from that hand injury until half way through the 2010 season, finishing with a .296/.355/.470 line in 400 at bats at AAA Louisville.

Alonso has a terrific approach, running deep counts and working walks with impressive regularity.  He sprays the ball all over the field thanks to his simple (especially below the waist) balanced swing.  The bat speed is good and there’s some leverage in the swing though Alonso hasn’t hit for as much power as you’d like to see from a first round-first base prospect.  While some of that can be attributed to the broken hand at the end of 2009 I think a lot of it has to do with Alonso’s hip rotation (or lack thereof) in the swing.  He’s obviously not very flexible and the hip rotation that generates torque in the swing just isn’t there.  Some scouts think the power will come, but I do not.  It would have been here already. 

Alonso could be an adequate first baseman, but the Reds have been trying him in left field, hoping that he can fake it out there and come up to the big leagues to steady the revolving door of garbage (apologies to Chris Heisey, who I think is pretty good) they have up there.  They even tried him at third base but that went horribly, to put it mildly.  Alonso is slow of foot and is obviously uncomfortable in the outfield.  Even the most routine fly balls look like an adventure.  He does have an above average arm for a left fielder, but it’s more likely that he’s a first baseman only.

On the continuum of first base prospects, I like Alonso more than Freddie Freeman but less than Brandon Belt.  I think it’s likely the Reds find a trade partner before the deadline and that Alonso’s name comes up in the talks, maybe for someone who can replace Edgar Renteria’s corpse and Paul Janish at shortstop.  I think he’ll be an above average major leaguer.

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