Spent Sunday with my remote control and cable package. ADD would come in handy this time of year, as there’s literally no reason to watch just one game. Here’s a player this spring that should be discussed.
On Brad Eldred
Eldred, the 25-year-old behemoth first baseman from the sixth round of 2002, has seen his stock soar having posted 104 home runs in 392 minor league games up to Triple-A in 2005, a cumulative .568 minor league slugger. The general rule of thumb I use for free swinging sluggers is a strikeout per game is acceptable provided it’s accompanied by consistently reaching the .500 slugging mark. But in the case of Eldred he’s combating a few deficiencies including defense. He’s far too large to get a lot of infield singles — which reduces at the major league level because of the increase in defense – and it seems he has a serious issue with pitch recognition.
In his first look at the majors (2005) he averaged 3.60 pitches per plate appearance through 55 games and 208 appearances; pedestrian in the realm of Jose Reyes, while Bobby Abreu averaged almost 4.40. That itself is not particularly indicting except he also posted a 77/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, meaning he swung and missed at an alarming rate, and is too slow to make a positive from weak contact.
Granted it was his first look at the majors, and he did make improvements at every level on the way up, but the jump to the majors is more distinct in the area of pitch recognition. Unlike the minors, there are few easy at-bats against major league pitchers. Despite legitimate 40-home run power, I have my doubt he’ll ever make enough contact to overshadow his defensive deficiencies.
The player he most reminds me of is Xavier Nady. While the jury is still out on Nady, I made up my mind long ago when I first saw him with Portland of the Pacific Coast League. I don’t believe Nady can recognize pitches fast enough to ever realize his power potential and become a consistent major leaguer, and I see the same in Eldred. A doom and gloom bench player projection in the long run.