Originally written on Monkey with a Halo  |  Last updated 2/20/13
The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with the first hitter taken by the Angels in the 2012 Amateur Draft. Alex Yarbrough Position: 2B  Highest Level: Double-A Bats: Switch Throws: Right  Height: 5'11" Weight: 180 lbs. Age: 21  Born: 8/3/91 2012 Season Stats Low-A: 256 PA, .287 AVG, .320 OBP, .410 SLG, 12 2B, 9 3B, 0 HR, 27 RBI, 20 SO, 9 SB, 2 CS, .309 BABIP Double-A: 18 PA, .111 AVG, .111 OBP, .167 SLG, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, .133 BABIP   Contact – A.  Yarbrough has a beautiful, compact swing from the right side and strong lift from the left side, with an almost equally as compact swing.  He’s one of the few college hitters that will come into professional ball with minimal adjustments to be made if any.     Power – B.  This is where MWAH (well me, I can’t speak for Garrett) differ from every other prospect publication.  The other sites believe Yarbrough has some pop but middling power at best.  I disagree, I see quite a bit of power projection in his swing.  I see Yarbrough hitting 30+ doubles per year and 10-15 HR’s, which is really solid for a middle infielder.    Discipline – B-  I haven’t seen Yarbrough being overwhelmed by any pitchers so far.  He’s laid off pitches that were out of the zone and made really solid contact on balls that were hittable.  He’s not going to walk a lot, but he seems to be rather adept and staying tough no matter what the count. Speed – B.  Alex can run.  He isn’t extremely fast among middle infielders, but he’s athletic and is a smart base runner.  I can see him swiping 15-25 bags on a regular basis.  Arm – B-.  Yarbrough has enough arm strength to play 2B with ease.  If the Angels tried him in the outfield however, I’m not sure it would play out any better than below average. This shouldn’t be a problem though, because I don’t envision Yarbrough being forced to move off second base.        Performance – B+.  He put up ridiculous numbers at Ole Miss in a tough SEC division.  Despite that performance, scouts weren’t sure how he’d fair against minor league pitchers.  So far, so good.  Yarbrough hit .287 in A-Ball and even spent the final five games of the season in AA, where he wasn’t embarrassed despite the advanced competition and the fact that three months earlier, he was playing college ball. Projection – B+.  This is again, where most prospect publications and I do not see eye to eye.  I see tremendous projection in Yarbrough.  I could see him turning into potentially an above average defender that hits for average, swipes some bases and tallies 50 extra base hits per season.  Basically, I see him being a switch-hitting Howie Kendrick that doesn’t enter the major leagues with the ridiculous “future batting title” hype.  Regardless, that’s an above average second baseman.  But fair warning, all other publications do not share this opinion.  They seem him being a solid second baseman that doesn’t necessarily open any eyes.  A fringe major leaguer perhaps.  Personally, not only Yarbrough’s ability, but his baseball IQ, ability to adjust and the intangibles have me convinced he’s considerably more.  Give it a few years and we’ll see who is right.    (*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider) Season Summary: The first number that jumped out at me when looking at Yarbrough's debut season was that he struck out in just 7.8% of his plate appearances. That is just an uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball, especially for a kid jumping from college to Low-A ball. What jumps out at me right after that is that Yarbrough only walked in 3.9% of his plate appearances, which is a distressingly low walk rate, so it isn't all great news with the kid. It is worth noting though that he did show a bit more patience, though not a huge amount more, in his college days. This isn't a fatal flaw, mind you, it just is an example of how Yarbrough lacks big time upside. He makes good contact, but doesn't walk much or hit for much more than gap power, at least right now. What Yarbrough has going for him is that he is a pretty complete product coming out of college. That the Angels even gave him a brief taste of Double-A shows how much they think of his ability to move up the ladder quickly. It helps that he proved to be adequate with the glove. Again, he isn't a great fielder, but he seems like he should be able to stick at second base, which is great because his bat isn't going to play anywhere else on the field. What to Expect in 2013: Things could get interesting with Yarbrough in 2013 because somehow he and fellow 2B prospect Taylor Lindsey need to co-exist in the same system. Lindsey should be on track to move to Double-A this year, but Yarbrough already got a taste of Double-A in 2013 which suggests the organization might want to place him at that level as well. Obviously they can't both get enough reps at second base, where they both need the work, so either Yarbrough is going to have to settle for spending the year at Inland Empire or Lindsey is going to get leapfrogged up to Triple-A. My guess is that it will be the former. Wherever he ends up will provide an interesting litmus test of sorts for his offensive upside. In a way, it would be like looking at the two extremes of his offensive profile relating to his power. If he ends up at Inland Empire, the hitting environment should give us a glimpse of what his ceiling with the bat could be whereas Arkansas should do the exact opposite and give us a feel for what his performance would be like if his power never really comes in. In either case, 2013 should give us a clearer picture of where Yarbrough stands in relation to Lindsey on the organizational depth chart at second base. [follow]
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