« 5 White Sox Horses Fell in the Mud | Main | RotoAuthority Live Chat »

Andrelton Simmons: The Surprise Shortstop

Everyone knew the Braves were going to go young at shortstop this season. Alex Gonzalez was allowed to walk as a free agent and although Jack Wilson was retained as veteran insurance, Atlanta was going to turn the most important position on the diamond over to a kid. Up until a few weeks ago, it was all but guaranteed that the job would go to 22-year-old Tyler Pastornicky. Instead, he's struggled badly in Spring Training - .220/.230/.237 in 59 at-bats - and is "obviously pressing" according to at least one observer. March stats don't mean much, but when you're a young kid trying to win a job, it helps to make a good impression.

While Pastornicky has been busy squeezing sap out of the bat, 22-year-old Andrelton Simmons has wowed the Braves coaching staff with his stellar glovework. He's barely outhitting Pastornicky ironically enough, putting together a .186/.271/.233 batting line in 43 exhibition at-bats. It hasn't mattered though, as there remains a strong sentiment around the team that Simmons should break camp as the starting shortstop despite never playing above High Class-A ball. He was a second round pick in 2010 and hit .311/.351/.408 during his pro debut with their Carolina League affiliate last season.

Baseball America ranked Simmons as the team's fourth best prospect earlier this offseason, saying he's an "aggressive hitter" who "knows the strike zone but doesn't walk much" in the subscriber-only scouting report. "He has bat speed and can turn on fastballs, but he won't have more than gap power," they added. "An average runner, he needs to improve his reads and jumps after getting thrown out 18 times in 44 basestealing attempts." Much like Freddy Galvis of the Phillies, Simmons doesn't have a typical fantasy profile but he can be a useful piece under the right circumstances.

Simmons has two things really going for him. One, he can steal bases. He swiped 26 bags last year and 18 (in 62 games) the year before. His reads need work as the Baseball America write-up said, meaning his stolen base total won't be much help if you're in a league that counts net steals (SB minus CS). Secondly, Simmons makes a ton of contact. He struck out in just 7.5% of his plate appearances in High-A last year, a ridiculously low percentage that's well below the league average even when considering his age relative to competition. The ability to make contact (or, inversely, not make contact) translates well across minor league levels and into the big leagues, and good things tend to happen when the ball is in play. Some BABIP love could have his batting average up around .280-.290, which is valuable when combined with 20+ steals.

The ZiPS projection system is quite a fan of Simmons. They estimate his current talent level at .274/.309/.348 with 21 steals given regular playing time, putting him on par with fellow middle infielders like Alcides Escobar (.270 AVG and 25 SB), Cliff Pennington (.252 and 23), and Jemile Weeks (.262 and 21). Again, not fantasy stars but rather useful pieces to fill out a roster or help you cope during an injury. Simmons doesn't even have the job yet and frankly is an inferior fantasy option to Pastornicky, who has produced at the higher levels and has a much longer track record, but he offers some sleeper potential for late-round batting average and stolen bases, particularly in deep mixed leagues or NL-only setups.




Site Map     Contact     About     Advertise     Privacy Policy     MLB Trade Rumors     Rss Feed