Padres Second Base Prospect Jedd Gyorko and Making The Baseball Go Far
In four Spring Training games to date, Padres prospect — and second-base contestant — Jedd Gyorko has four hits. Three of them are home runs.
As a result of the first longball, a grand slam in his first at-bat of the exhibition season, he also has nine RBIs.
Crazy numbers? Yes.
Sustainable numbers? No.
Foreshadowing numbers? Maybe.
Gyorko, in case you want some background, is San Diego’s No. 1 farmhand and is fighting over his first MLB job (and roster spot) with incumbent and relative vet Logan Forsythe. Significant power numbers are a big bonus at his position and only works in his favor as we near April. After all, just 10 of the 119 Major Leaguers with 15 or more longballs (or eight percent of them, put another way) last season played second base.
- Cano (NYY) 33 HR
- Hill (ARI) 26 HR
- Weeks (MIL) 21 HR
- Kinsler (SD) 19 HR
- Uggla (ATL) 19 HR
- Phillips (CIN) 18 HR
- Espinosa (WAS) 17 HR
- Beckham (CWS) 16 HR
- Johnson (TOR) 16 HR
- Pedroia (BOS) 15 HR
As far as Gyorko goes, it’s fun but also potentially wildly misleading to look back at his history in the homer department. The right-handed hitter hit 55 homers the last two seasons — or one every 20 ABs — but that production occurred in the Minors’ three most hitter-made-happy leagues: the California (Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore), the Texas (Double-A San Antonio) and the Pacific Coast (Triple-A Tucson) circuits.
I’ll swipe this exchange from MiLB.com colleague John Parker’s recent Q&A with the player himself:
MiLB.com: At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, you’re not a huge guy, but you’ve put up some big power numbers the last two seasons, particularly at Lake Elsinore and Tucson. Do you consider yourself a power hitter?
Gyorko: I think that remains to be seen, really. I’ve had some good numbers the last few years, but you never know how things will shake out. I guess I consider myself a line drive hitter, but maybe with a little extra.
Now, we can’t fault Gyorko for producing at every Minor League stop he’s been, but we should point out where he’s headed: the Pads’ PETCO Park, where most sluggers are sapped of their strength. At 1.35 HR/G, PETCO is the second-stingiest yard in the Majors.
Just two of those 119 Major Leaguers with 15 or more longballs (or 1.7 of them, put another way) played half their games in San Diego. (Another player, first baseman Yonder Alonso, was expected to have 15-homer potential, but hit just nine in his first full season, all but three while on the road.)
- Headley (3B) 31 HR
- Quentin (OF) 16 HR
Would Gyorko, if he wins his first Opening Day roster spot as well as regular playing time, become the third Padre to reach — or perhaps surpass — that plateau? I’m no scout, but I think he would have a very strong chance. Say he hits 10 on the road and five at PETCO, and that’s a conservative estimate. Plain and simple: Guys who hit for contact and power at Gyorko’s level in the Minors typically hit for contact and power at least at an adequate level in the Majors.
That, of course, also means we’re looking at someone who could climb the list of current, power-hitting second basemen, a rare breed. But, yeah, while I’m no scout I don’t think we’re looking at the next Jeff Kent or Alfonso Soriano (before his switch to left field), and that is probably Gyorko’s ideal of ideal comps. One more likely comparison: While Gyorko’s setup is different and his swing actions are more fluid, we may be looking at Aaron Hill 2.0. And Hill 2.0 doesn’t need to play half his games in Arizona, though playing 19 games there won’t hurt.