Monday, November 08, 2004

Alberto Callaspo/Erick Aybar Report

Alberto Callaspo, SS, Anaheim Angels
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2001, Venezuela
Bats B/Throws R
21 YO, 5'10", 173 lbs

Erick Aybar, SS, Anaheim Angels
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2002, Dominican Republic
Bats B/Throws R
20 YO, 5'11", 160 lbs

I'm reporting on both of them at the same time because to be honest, I have a hard time remembering which is which. In 2002 and 2003, they were teammates and were possibly the best defensive middle infield in the minor leagues last season. Callaspo played second base for most part, but is in his own right, a capable defensive shortstop. This season, he played short full time for AA Arkansas (skipping high class A), where he hit .282/.336/.373 with 28 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 47 walks and 25 strikeouts in 550 at bats. That's a pretty unusual line. It isn't the most impressive you'll find, but I'm intrigued by the obvious ability to make contact. The walk rate is a work in progress, but whenever a players walks at a rate that is almost double what he strikes out, it's a good sign. And this isn't new for him. In 1088 at bats coming into the season, he had struck out 58 times compared to his 81 walks. I still want to see him take more walks, but I have a feeling that's an uphill battle for his coaches since he can obviously make contact with any borderline pitch. I'd also like to see him turn on some pitches and drive more extra base hits to the gaps and over the fence.

This is an extreme skill set and one worth watching. I don't know how it will come out. The fact that he was only 21 years old this season helps with any projecting you might do.

The last thing I have to say about him is that he MUST make better choices on the basepaths. He has good speed, but he got caught stealing (14 times) almost as many times as he was successful (15). I don’t know if this is a function of technique (not being able to get a good jump) or of bad decision-making. Whatever is the cause, he should get it figured out, or else he'll be a real liability in an area where he should be an asset.

Aybar is a gifted defensive shortstop and a potentially potent bat. He spent the season in the California League, where he hit .330/.370/.485 with 25 doubles, 11 triples, 14 home runs, 27 walks, and 66 K's in 573 at bats. He also stole 51 bases, which speaks to his speed. Just like Callaspo, he needs to draw more walks. He looks like he has more power, and more power potential. And he's a potentially great defensive shortstop.

Neither of them is a great shortstop. If Brandon Wood recovers from a mediocre 2004, he could push these two for the tag of future Angels infielder. He has a similar skill set, and he was a first round pick in 2003.

ETA 2007, 3 1/2 Stars for both of them



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