Saturday, April 23, 2005

Chris Shelton Report

Chris Shelton, 1B/C, Detroit Tigers
Drafted 984th Overall (33rd Rd), 2001 Draft, University of Utah
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'0", 220 lbs

Shelton joins the pantheon of good bat/bad glove catchers. These guys should form a club. You have alumni like Craig Wilson, Matt LeCroy, Mike Sweeney, and Carlos Delgado. You have current guys like Ryan Garko, Justin Huber, Josh Willingham, and Daric Barton. Maybe I can coin a new acronym for them. GBBGC's doesn't have that ring to it that you get with TINSTAAPP or LOOGY.

Anyway, like most of these guys, Shelton has done nothing but hit since being drafted. As a catcher, he's pretty marginal defender, and probably won't stick there.

2004 Detroit: .196/.321/.283, 1 2B, 1 HR, 9 BB, 14 K, 46 AB
2004 Toledo: .339/.425/.371, 2 2B, 0 HR, 10 BB, 13 K, 62 AB
pre-2005 mL Career: .332/.430/.533, 74 2B, 40 HR, 166 BB, 208 K, 1005 AB

He was a bit older than his competition in 2002 and 2003, so that career line is a little inflated, but not alarmingly so. As a first baseman, he's average or a touch above offensively. I don't see him as a big star in the making. Think Kevin Millar here. He's not great defensively at first either, so maybe Paul Konerko shows up on the radar, though I wouldn't bet on any 40 home run seasons like Konerko put up in 2004.

With Brandon Inge and Shelton, the Tigers COULD arrange their roster in a way that excludes a full time backup catcher. This is an idea that probably won't fly with Detroit management since they really are starting to move him permanently away from the tools of ignorance, AND it would require stocking the bench with a good utility infielder. I like the idea of freeing up a spot on your roster for something more useful than the Henry Blancos of the world. Fantasy owners would love it since they would get catcher eligibility from players who aren't full time catchers.

Shelton is next in line should the Tiggers finally get fed up with Carlos Pena's erratic play once and for all, or should they temporarily move Dmitri Young back to left field because of injuries in the outfield. I have nothing to back it up, but even though I think he's ready for the big leagues, he might need a few months to get his legs underneath him once he does win a job. Nonetheless, if you're looking for a fantasy sleeper, here ya go.

ETA: Midseason
3 1/2 Stars

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