- Full name Alcides Escobar
- Born 12/16/1986 in La Sabana, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 09/03/2008
Organization Prospect Rankings
In an organization that focused for years on procuring offensive players, Escobar quickly established himself as a defensive whiz while climbing the ranks of the farm system. Signed by legendary scout Epy Guerrero out of Venezuela for a mere $33,000 in 2003, Escobar wowed scouts with eye-popping web gems. As his bat caught up to his glove, he switched jobs with slumping shortstop J.J. Hardy last August, when Hardy was demoted to Triple-A Nashville. While making some rookie mistakes in the field, Escobar showed why he's considered a special defender by making several remarkable plays. He also handled himself quite nicely at the plate while coming within two at-bats of losing his rookie eligibility. Much of Escobar's game revolves around his legs. He uses them for quickness and amazing range to both sides in the field, allowing him to get to balls out of the grasp of most shortstops. At the plate, his speed makes him a threat for a hit every time he smacks a ball on the ground. When he tops a slow roller, even right at an infielder, he's almost impossible to throw out. He's a constant threat to steal bases, swiping 42 in 52 attempts at Nashville, though the Brewers seldom run under manager Ken Macha. Beyond his legs, Escobar owes his defensive prowess to long arms, soft hands, arm strength and natural instincts. In short, he was born to play shortstop. As a hitter, he covers the plate well and generally uses the whole field. Though he won't hit for power, he has some bat speed and leverage in his stroke. Escobar sometimes gets lazy with throws on routine grounders and makes sloppy errors. He has exercised more patience at the plate in recent seasons but still has a long way to go in that department. He drew just four walks in 134 big league plate appearances last season, and getting on base needs to be his primary offensive goal. Though he has more pop than his thin frame might suggest, hitting the ball in the air does no good for him. He'll go through bouts where he becomes pull-conscious and tries to hit for power. The transition from Hardy to Escobar took place ahead of schedule. Though Hardy had been one of the Brewers' core players during their resurgence, it was evident that Escobar's time had come, prompting a trade of Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez in November. The youngster will start at shortstop for Milwaukee in 2010 and be a prime Rookie of the Year candidate , with the hope that he'll develop into the club's leadoff man of the future.
Legendary scout Epy Guerrero's tenure with the Brewers wasn't as long or distinguished as his time with the Astros, Yankees and Blue Jays. But he may have added another all-star to his résumé when he signed Escobar for a mere $33,000 out of Venezuela in 2003. He quickly established himself as the best defensive infielder in the system, but it took Escobar a while to answer questions about his bat. He put those to rest when he hit a career-high .306 while reaching Double-A in 2007, and he had an even better season when he returned to Huntsville in 2008. He batted .328, led the Southern League with 179 hits and managers rated him the most exciting player, best defensive shortstop and strongest infield arm in the circuit. Summoned to Milwaukee in September to add depth for the stretch drive, he singled off Scott Schoeneweis in his first big league at-bat. Escobar makes playing shortstop look easy. He gobbles up ground with long strides, getting to balls that other shortstops can't come close to reaching. He has a true shortstop's arm, making strong, accurate throws even while on the move. He has soft hands, a good feel for the position and long arms that allow him to scoop up balls that initially appear beyond his grasp. Escobar has made tremendous strides as a hitter in the last two seasons. He was noticeably stronger in 2008, and pitchers no longer can just knock the bat out of his hands. His eight homers exceeded his previous career total of seven over four seasons, and he projects to hit 10-15 longballs annually in the majors. He also did a better job of adapting to breaking pitches and understanding what pitchers were trying to do to him. Escobar improved on the bases as well, using his plus speed to steal 34 bases in 42 attempts--an 81 percent success rate that exceeded his previous career mark of 70 percent. At times, Escobar is too aggressive at the plate. He doesn't draw many walks, which hurts his chances of batting near the top of the lineup. His focus should be on getting on base, though at 22 he still has plenty of time to mature as a hitter. At times he tries to make plays in the field that can't be made, resulting in needless errors. But it's difficult to tell Escobar to dial down his effort because he also pulls off plays that look impossible. There's no question that Escobar could play defense in the big leagues right now. Whether he could handle the jump offensively is another matter. The Brewers already have a solid shortstop in J.J. Hardy, but he can't do the things at the position that Escobar can do. Hardy eventually will move to second or third base, or perhaps be used in a trade for some much-needed pitching. If management stands pat for now, Escobar probably will open 2009 at Triple-A Nashville so he can get regular time. It's going to be tough to hold him back much longer.
Escobar played the entire 2007 season at age 20 and thrived during the second half. Consistently one of the youngest players at his level, he batted a career-high .306 overall while finishing strong in Double-A. Escobar could play defense in the big leagues right now. He's a smooth shortstop, with nice range, soft hands and a strong throwing arm. He has gotten stronger, which has stopped pitchers from knocking the bat out of his hands, and the Brewers believe he'll have gap power as he continues to develop. He's an above-average runner. Though he has matured physically over the past year, Escobar still needs to get stronger. He'll never have a lot of pop, and he needs to improve his plate discipline to reach his offensive ceiling. He's a free swinger who settles for merely putting the ball in play too often. He must improve his basestealing aptitude after getting caught 13 times in 35 overall attempts. When Escobar's bat is big league ready, he'll be hard to hold back. He's ticketed to spend 2008 at Triple-A Nashville.
The youngest regular in the Florida State League last season, Escobar broke his finger in mid-April. He missed three weeks and it continued to bother him after he returned. A rough year at the plate got worse in the final two months, when he hit .234 with just four extra-base hits. Escobar's defensive tools are far ahead of his bat at this point. He boats fluid actions, soft hands and a plus arm. As he continues to fill out and gain strength, he has a chance to grow into gap power. He makes contact with a slashing line-drive swing. He's an above-average runner with basestealing potential. Lean and wiry, Escobar lacks strength in his game, especially at the plate. He doesn't drive the ball and is overaggressive. His injury didn't help, but he didn't make many strides or adjustments after a promising 2005. Escobar was impressive in instructional league, and the Brewers were toying with the idea of promoting him to Double-A in 2007. Considering how much he struggled offensively last year, returning him to high Class A might make more sense. He'll have to hit if he's going to challenge J.J. Hardy for Milwaukee's shortstop job in the future.
Escobar was flirting with a .300 average in early August, but sagged as he wore down. He was shaken by an Aug. 6 incident when his batting-practice line drive hit pitching coach John Curtis in the head, sending him to the hospital. Escobar has the tools to be an above-average defender at shortstop, starting with fluid actions, a strong arm and good hands. His wiry strong body produces some pop at the plate, and his swing is sound. He's a plus runner, getting from home to first in less than 4.2 seconds. Escobar's strike zone is too generous. He improved at recognizing breaking balls in instructional league, and that progress will have to continue for him to make more consistent contact. Escobar's 41 errors ranked third in the minors, but Milwaukee isn't worried about his defense. While the Brewers have J.J. Hardy in the big leagues, Escobar is gaining ground fast. When Hardy couldn't play in the Arizona Fall League, Escobar became the league's youngest player and acquitted himself well. He'll start 2006 in high Class A.
The more the Brewers saw Escobar in his first year of pro ball last year, the harder it was to believe he was only 17 years old. He looked even better in instructional league, where he showed an uncanny knack for putting the ball in play, striking out just two times. Milwaukee scouts liken Escobar to a young Tony Fernandez, with a lean and lanky build and knack for making the plays in the field. He displays good hands, quickness and range on defense. His arm is nothing spectacular but strong enough to keep him at shortstop for now. On the bases, he's a legitimate threat to steal with above-average speed. Primarily a contact hitter at present, the Brewers think Escobar will develop power as he fills out and matures. They plan on teaming him with second- base prospect Hernan Iribarren in low Class A this season, and they're excited about watching that double-play combination in action.
Minor League Top Prospects
Long hailed as one of the game's elite defensive prospects, Escobar proved he could handle Triple-A pitching. That gave the Brewers the confidence to elevate him to the major leagues in August to supplant the struggling J.J. Hardy. Escobar has good plate coverage and is willing to hit balls where they're pitched, though at times he'll get pull-conscious and overswing. He doesn't offer much power, but he does have some bat speed and leverage in his stroke. He has good speed and is an intelligent basestealer. His defense remains his calling card. Escobar's range, hands and arm strength are all easy plus tools. In each of the last three years, managers have rated him the best defensive shortstop and owner of the strongest infield arm in his league. "He's got a chance to be one of the premier shortstops in baseball," Memphis manager Chris Maloney said. "He's got big range both ways, a very strong throwing arm, his hands are excellent and you can tell he loves to play defense. He's got a chance to hit a little bit, too."
While LaPorta and Mat Gamel provided most of the power for an incredible Huntsville lineup, some observers believed that Escobar was the Stars' best prospect because of his ability to contribute in all aspects of the game. Though Escobar had a fine season at the plate, leading the SL with 179 hits and batting a career-high .328, it's his plus-plus defense that dazzles onlookers. With quickness, agility and good instincts, Escobar has outstanding range to his left and right. His footwork is superb and his hands are soft, and he completes the defensive package with a cannon arm. He runs well and has a thin lower half. Though his bat was a concern earlier in his career, Escobar is no slouch at the plate. He doesn't project to hit for much power, but he added some strength this season and showed the ability to do some damage to pitchers who attacked him in the strike zone. While some scouts expect his aggressive approach to provide some initial growing pains in the big leagues, he shows the ability to hit all types of pitches.
Escobar spent much of 2006 in the FSL, impressing with his glove but leaving major questions about his bat. A year of maturity, an offseason in winter ball and added strength made him a much better hitter. He led off for Brevard County, though he's more likely to hit near the bottom of the order in the big leagues, where his contact approach and speed will give him some value. Escobar's swing is too long for his skill set, especially when he tries to drive the ball, which usually just leads to flyout. He did a better job this year of hitting the ball on the ground, where his 4.1-second speed from home to first gives him a chance to beat out infield singles. He was especially good against lefthanders, hitting .372 against them between Brevard County and Double-A. He needs to work on getting better jumps and picking his spots to run. His defense is his calling card. Escobar has the consistency to make routine plays, and the range and arm to make highlight plays. His arm is his best tool, as it's extremely strong and accurate and grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Escobar recovered from a 7-for-44 spell at the start of his Double-A tour to bat .313 the rest of the way and then .385 in the playoffs. Nevertheless, his offensive game has a ways to go, as he has a long swing and well below-average power. As he strengthens his upper body, forearms and hands, he could develop into a solid-average hitter with an ability to drive balls from gap to gap. A long, sinewy athlete, Escobar isn't far from major league-ready as a defender. He has easy, natural actions at shortstop with above-average hands, range and arm strength. He tends to play with too much flare, but his .981 fielding percentage was tops in the league among regular shortstops. He's a plus runner.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the American League in 2014
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Pacific Coast League in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Pacific Coast League in 2009
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Pacific Coast League in 2009
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Southern League in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Southern League in 2008
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Southern League in 2008
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Florida State League in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Florida State League in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Florida State League in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006