Rotoprofessor’s Prospect Watch – Angel Salome
Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor
Thanks in large part to Matt Wieters, young catching prospects are all the rage these days. Outside of Wieters, you also have Pablo Sandoval (though he likely doesn’t have eligibility there entering the season), Buster Posey, J.P. Arencibia and the slew of youngster in Texas. Though I didn’t mention him in the recent rankings, there’s another young catcher that is certainly worth monitoring, and that’s Angel Salome in Milwaukee.
Ignoring Salome’s skills for a moment, the fact that the only thing standing between him and regular playing time is Jason Kendall is a huge bonus right off the bat. Kendall was so bad last season (.246, 2 HR, 49 RBI in 516 AB) that the team actually experimented with hitting him ninth in the order (159 AB!). I know, people are going to talk about his defense and the such, but sooner or later you need to be getting something out of his bat, especially if/when the team is struggling.
In Salome, the Brewers have a catcher with the potential to contribute at the plate, though his defense may cost him from making a more immediate impact. Just to give you a little taste, last season at Double A he hit .360 with 13 HR, 83 RBI and 63 R over 367 AB.
Granted, the average is not likely to continue, thanks to a BABIP of an incredible .401. No one can continue to get that lucky, especially at the major league level. A decrease is coming, the only question is how far. His propensity to make contact will certainly help (only a 15.5% K rate last season), though with that type of ability, you’d think that he would walk a bit more then he does (only 8.3% last season).
That certainly tells me that he does a fine job recognizing pitches and can make contact if things are close to the plate. It’s a ratio that is very similar to Vladimir Guerrero (14.2% K% and 8.6% BB% last season), though he is obviously not even close to the same type of hitter that Vlad is. I’m not trying to compare him to one of the best hitters of this generation, because it’s a no contest. I’m just trying to draw a comparison to the skills, though it obviously was against a different level of competition. He won’t have close to the same power, but Vlad used those skills to get a .314 BABIP and a .303 average. That would seem to be realistic, though I’d peg his average slightly lower then that in his rookie season. Think Geovanny Soto, who hit .285 last season after hitting .353 the prior season at Triple A.
There are significant questions surrounding him that could cause a delay in his arrival. One was his 50-game suspension in 2007 for use of performance enhancing drugs. While it is possible that his usage of these drugs was to help recover from a broken ankle, that really would be no excuse.
Additionally, there are serious concerns about his defense. Baseball America said, “Salome often gets his footwork messed up behind the plate, resulting in inaccurate throws and stolen bases. He threw out 26 percent of basestealers while allowing 90 swipes in 78 games last year. He still needs to work on his game-calling.” Until that gets straightened out, there isn’t much of a chance of him becoming the starting backstop for the Brewers.
He has the potential to be a very good bat behind the plate, he’s shown that ability. I could see a .285 or better hitter with 15-18 HR with regular AB’s. The Brewers are in need of a catcher who can hit, but I don’t see them rushing him while risking their defense. They do have a lot of offense already, with Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart filling the line-up, so out the outset it would seem like they wouldn’t need to force him into action. Of course, a prolonged slump and a hot start from him could change all that rather quickly.
Look for him to start the season at Triple A, though if he shows improvement he could be up at the major league level in a hurry. That makes him a player well worth eyeing, especially in formats that require 2 starting catchers.
He’s not Wieters, meaning I wouldn’t draft him unless you play in the deepest of formats. There’s no real guarantee if or when he will get his shot in 2009, but if it comes I wouldn’t hesitate from snagging him.
What do you think of Salome? Can he contribute to fantasy owners this season?
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