Nothing is certain yet, but the Pirates have spoken with incumbent third baseman Andy LaRoche about working out at second base, with the hope that Pedro Alvarez can take over at third base in Pittsburgh by the middle of next season.
While LaRoche will have to adjust to learning a new position, the other question is whether Alvarez is capable of handling third base.
Not every scout is completely sold on Alvarez sticking at third base, but the answers from those who have seen the 22-year-old Alvarez this year are mostly that he can, at least for the next few years.
Internally, the Pirates call Alvarez’s defense a work in progress. There are some things in the field that he does well, some things he needs to work on and some things that will always limit him.
With Alvarez’s size (he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds), most talent evaluators’ knee-jerk reactions upon looking at Alvarez’s body is to assume he’s better suited at first base. Alvarez’s conditioning has already been chronicled at length—first he supposedly showed up to instructional league after signing out of shape, then he reportedly showed up to spring training in much better condition—as if he were the Oprah Winfrey of prospects.
But after watching him play, several managers around the high Class A Carolina League saw enough evidence to believe Alvarez could remain at third base in the short term:
“Defensively, he moves better than you expect,” said one manager
“You look at the body type and you’d think no, but he played fantastic against us in one series,” added another manager.
“I think if he takes care of his body, he’s going to be a good defender,” said a third manager.
While Alvarez is a well below-average runner with below-average range, he has smooth hands and an above-average arm. He moves around well for a big man and charges the slow rollers well, though he doesn’t have a quick first step, especially on balls down the line.
He’s not Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman, but he’s also not in the Ryan Braun or Mat Gamel mold where his negative defensive value completely negates his positional advantage.
Is Alvarez going to be a third baseman when he turns 29 or 30 years old and signs his first major league free agent contract? That’s hard for a lot of scouts to picture. But it seems reasonable to expect him to be able to stay at third base for the next few years if he stays on top of his conditioning.
“The range was my biggest issue with Alvarez in the field,” said a National League scout, “and it’s only going to go down as he ages. But his glovework is soft and his arm is strong, so you keep him at third base as long as you can. It might not be average defense at third base, but even if he ends up having to move to first base, the bat plays fine there.”
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog