FanPost

Trends and Tovar: Sell high or a long-term play?

Most seasons I adopt a minor leaguer to track and pull for. Many wash-out before hitting legal drinking age (remember Dante Brinkley - well he could drink by the time he washed out) while others thrill before landing with a thud. I saw a Fathers Day no-hitter 2005 by "front-ender of the future" Gaby Hernandez.

This year my focus has been on an allegedly super-slick-fielding but offensively challenged shortstop Wilfredo Tovar. Born 8/11/1991 he'll turn 22 in 10 days making him young for the Eastern League where the median age is 24.

Back in April it looked like I'd picked another soon-to-be-forgotten youngster whose dream of big league fame would never materialize. With July now officially over and 4/5 of the milb season in the books I thought I'd share some noticeable trends in Tovar's season.

Well, it turns out the baseball season is long and filled with ups and downs. But for ‘Fredo (doesn't he look like he could be John Cazale's nephew?) he might have gotten his downs out of the way before the calendar hit May.

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After an April that saw him post an abysmal .205/.250/.253 triple slash, Fredo has seen improvement in each slash from month to month.

Now I'm not here to tell you that ‘Fredo will ever be a league average big-league hitter. I'm not even here to tell you that he's any kind of lock for a defensive specialist gig. But I do think it's instructive to remember that once in a while minor league development programs actually help guys develop - hopefully that's what we're seeing with Fredo.

That abysmal April BA .205 of jumped all the way to .318 in July. BABIP and all that suggest we shouldn't read much into that but he did improve each month along the way with stops at .255 in May & .273 in June. In fact, throw out April and his BA is a solid .277. And . . . we've also seen a similar pattern in the other components of his triple slash.

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April May June July
Batting Average .205 .255 .273 .318
On-base pct. .250 .284 .378 .371
Slugging .253 .286 .312 .477

As we can see each of his triple slash components has improved from month-to-month with the exception of his OBP dropping from .378 in June to .371 in July - if he can post anything approaching a .370 OBP as he climbs the ladder I think we'd all be thrilled.

But some lines are easier to believe than others. The BA has shown the most consistent improvement and his OBP, while showing more aggressive growth, has now been sustained at the higher level for two complete months. But what about that spike in slugging?

His essentially invisible April .253 slg was followed by similarly depressing .286 and .312's in May and June before leaping to .477 in July. The July boost is certainly helped by his .318 BA but his .159 ISO suggests that he might have eaten a little extra spinach last month.

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April May June July Total
Hits 17 25 21 28 91
Extra Base Hits 4 3 3 7 17
Walks 2 2 12 7 23
Strike Outs 10 14 9 8 41

And as we see in the chart immediately above his extra base hits jumped dramatically in July. The July slugging is certainly not sustainable but does the fact that he put his first two balls over the wall (along w/2 doubles & 3 triples) portend a future in which he can at least avoid being defended like Juan Pierre? Well we're not there yet but at least a strong August could make it a legitimate question.

The second chart also takes a look at perhaps my favorite part of Fredo's trend lines - his walk and strikeout trends. After only taking 2 walks in each of April and May, Tovar spiked to 12 in June before falling to 7 in July. The July number translates to a 7.4% rate - not great but it's helped push his season walk rate up to 6.2%. Again, still not really acceptable for a slap hitter but a huge improvement from the 4 walks he had in his first 185 April/May PA's. But best of all Fredo's been a low K guy during good times and bad. Month by month: April 11.7%, May 14%, June 10.1%, July 8.4%.

Fredo Sauce has surprised the hell out of me. I figured the .205 April meant he just didn't have the skills to handle higher level pitching and he'd be relegated to the scrap heap of gold glovers that weren't strong enough to carry a bat into the on-deck circle. That could still prove to be the case but his trend lines suggest that if there's one "below the radar" prospect that's worth keeping an eye on this August - that guy could be Wilfredo Tovar.

Triple slash since May 1, 2013: .277/.337/.357 7.7%bb-rate/10.6%k-rate

With a glove that reports suggest could already play in Queens, he's the type of guy that could become extremely valuable if unspectacular. That would require continued improvement in his hit tool to the point where he can be an 80+ wRC+ guy. He's young enough to improve. Whether he's skilled enough is an open question but one I look forward to seeing answered.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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