- Full name Alessandro Liddi
- Born 08/14/1988 in San Remo, Italy
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Istituto Aicardi Agraria
- Debut 09/07/2011
Organization Prospect Rankings
Though six Italian-born players already had played in the big leagues, Liddi became the first born and raised in Italy to reach the majors when he got there in September. His promotion capped a season in which he ranked third in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 30 homers and 273 total bases. His game is quite similar to that of Mark Reynolds, as both have plus raw power but not enough other tools to be a viable everyday option for a contending team. As with Reynolds, Liddi's biggest problem is making contact. His 187 strikeouts between Triple-A and the majors were the fourth most in pro ball in 2011. (Reynolds was second with 196 whiffs.) Liddi is a below-average hitter who doesn't recognize pitches well or make adjustments at the plate, limiting his usable power to 15-20 homers annually in the majors. He's a well below-average runner with stiff infield actions. He did loosen up some last year and started 21 games at shortstop for Tacoma, and he does have plus arm strength. He led PCL third basemen with 18 errors in 115 games last year but had just one miscue in 14 big league contests. Despite his flaws as a player, Liddi is lauded for his makeup and hard work. He could beat out Kyle Seager and Chone Figgins for Seattle's starting job at third base in 2012, and should be able to contribute at least as a power bat off the bench.
When Liddi took the field in 2006, he became the first Italian position player to play Organized Baseball in the United States. He broke out by leading the minors with a .345 average and winning the California League MVP award in 2009. He encored by hitting well in Double-A last year at age 21, earning a spot on the 40-man roster. Liddi has a pro body and strength in his swing. He has good bat speed with power to all fields, though his swing can get long at times. He hits fastballs well and is still working to remedy his trouble recognizing breaking balls out of the pitcher's hand, which led to his 145 strikeouts in 2010. Developing pitch recognition comes largely through experience, and Liddi did his part by getting extra at-bats in the Venezuelan League this winter. He has soft hands and above-average arm strength at third base, but he's a well-below-average runner and doesn't have good range or footwork around the bag. He also tries to be too flashy--all factors that contributed to him leading Southern League third basemen with 27 errors last season. He also saw some action at first base, where he's a better fit. Liddi will move up to Triple-A and spend most of his time at the hot corner in 2011. He'll also play some first base and DH to give Matt Mangini some time at third base.
The first Italian position player to play pro ball in the United States, Liddi hit .313 in an encouraging 2006 pro debut but then limped through two years in the low Class A Midwest League as a teenager, batting .240/.306/.365 over 249 games. A promotion to a hitter's paradise in High Desert helped him unlock his significant offensive potential. Liddi hit .345 to lead all minor leaguers and also won California League MVP honors. He participated in the World Baseball Classic in March and the Futures Game in July. Most evaluators agree that Liddi's huge 2009 season was no mirage. With strong wrists, he generates natural power to center and right-center, and he did a better job of pulling the ball for power. Though he remains tall and lanky, he's beginning to add muscle to his frame. He has a feel for hitting, with his smooth stroke and solid plate coverage. His pitch selectivity improved in the second half, coinciding with a toe tap he added to his stance. He rates as a strong defender at third base, featuring soft hands and above-average arm strength. Liddi's athletic actions are not exactly graceful, and he already rates as a below-average runner. Some observers think his 2009 season was a product of his home ballpark, and he hit a more representative .308/.351/.498 with six homers on the road. With his breakout performance, Liddi cleared a giant hurdle in 2009. How well he makes the transition to a less favorable hitting environment in Double-A this year will reveal a lot about his future.
The lone Italian position player in the minor leagues, Liddi has struggled through two years in low Class A since ranking fifth in the Arizona League batting race at .313 during his promising 2006 debut. He has batted just .240/.306/.365 in 249 games for Wisconsin, but the Mariners think his opposite-field swing and the winds at Fox Cities Stadium have cut into his production. Other MWL observers criticize him for not making the necessary adjustments. Lean and athletic, Liddi shows impressive strength and power to center and right-center field. He often looks like he's feeling for the ball, but his smooth swing gives him the chance to hit for average as he matures. He's an average runner. He has a plus arm, soft hands and enough agility to make plays at third base, but he could outgrow the position. Liddi receives uniformly high marks for his work ethic, but he would do much to reassure his believers by playing well in high as a 20-year-old this year.
Liddi made his pro debut in 2006, hitting .313 and finishing fifth in Arizona League batting race as a 17-year-old. A year older and wiser, he held his own at Wisconsin, especially considering his youth and inexperience. With a sound swing, natural power to center and right-center field and a slender 6-foot-4, 176-pound frame, Liddi offers plenty of room to project power. The Mariners were encouraged that he recovered from a lousy first half to hit .262/.314/.398--or essentially league average--in the second. He has an unrefined grasp of the strike zone, struggling with pitch recognition and selection. He could outgrow third base as he fills out, but he has a plus arm, soft hands and enough agility to make plays. In the long term, he's probably a below-average runner. Critics of Liddi's noted that he was among the league's most awkward athletes and that he needed to stress strength and conditioning. The Mariners rave about his energy and work ethic, and he'll be one of the youngest players in his league, whether he repeats the MWL or heads to high Class A.
Liddi is one of two Italian-born players in professional baseball; Cubs minor league righthander Alessandro Maestri is the other. They were two of the four prospects signed out of Major League Baseball International's inaugural European Baseball Academy, held at the Italian national Olympic training center in Tirrenia in 2005. Seattle signed him for $55,000. He made his pro debut in 2006 and finished fifth in the Arizona League batting race as a 17- year-old. It's easy to dream about Liddi's projected power, as he has a good swing and lots of room to add strength to his skinny 6-foot-4, 176-pound frame. He shows an aptitude for driving the ball to right-center and should learn to turn on pitches in time. As with most of Seattle's young international players, he still has a lot to learn about plate discipline. It's possible he could outgrow the hot corner if he fills out, but he has a plus arm (he touched 88 mph off the mound as an amateur), soft hands and the agility to make plays. He moves well for his size but probably will slow down to a below-average runner once he physically matures. Besides his tools, the Mariners also rave about Liddi's love for the game and work ethic. He'll be one of the youngest players in the Midwest League this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
Liddi has put up some huge numbers in the minors, winning the minor league batting title with a .345 average in 2009 and slugging 30 homers with 104 RBIs for Tacoma this year. He became the first player born and raised in Italy to reach the majors when the Mariners called him up in September, and he responded with three homers in 15 games. There's a tradeoff for his above-average power, however, as Liddi has a long stroke and racks up a lot of strikeouts. He swings through offspeed stuff and misses on fastballs too, and his offensive game draws comparisons to that of Mark Reynolds. Though Liddi has a strong arm and has spent most of his career at third base, he seems destined to move across the diamond to first base. He's a well below-average runner who lacks range and sometimes gets too cute on defense.
Liddi's numbers were bound to take a hit after he played at hospitable High Desert in the hitter-friendly California League last year. A career .244/.311/.372 hitter entering 2009, he led the minors in hitting while batting .345/.411/.594. He legitimized himself as a prospect with a solid 2010 season at West Tenn, leading the league with 92 RBIs. Liddi has a quick bat and power to all fields. His swing can get long at times and he needs more at-bats to work on his pitch recognition, because he tends to chase sliders. Liddi's 27 errors were easily the most among SL third basemen, many coming when he unnecessarily barehanded balls he could have fielded with his glove. He has soft hands and a strong arm, but he lacks speed, agility and range. If he has to move to first base, he doesn't profile as well because he doesn't quite have the power sought at that position.
High Desert's Mavericks Stadium, with its dry air and high altitude, is one of the best hitter's park in the minors, with Exhibit A being Lake Elsinore's 33-18 victory there on June 28. Though Liddi benefitted from his home ballpark--he batted .382/.467/.691 there versus .308/.351/.498 on the road--most scouts believe the league MVP and overall minor league batting champion (.345) will continue to hit beyond the Cal League. Though Liddi is still very slender, he started to turn on more pitches and show more strength this season. An Italian who was part of the initial class of prospects signed out of MLB International's European Baseball Academy, he has added polish in his four pro seasons. He has a chance to have four average or better tools, with speed the only exception. "He has the whole package," an American League scout said. "He's an excellent defender, nice glove, fine arm. I like the way he competes in every at-bat. He has both hand strength and bat speed."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive 3B in the California League in 2009