Yunel Escobar to Play Third Base for the Braves in the Absence of Chipper Jones

Thescuttlebutt is that Escobar will get the bulk of time in Jones’ absence, the
veteran will be placed on the 15-Day DL Saturday with a hand injury; concerns
are there may be ligament damage. The Double-A Mississippi Braves have
announced shortstop Brent Lillibridge has been promoted to
Triple-A Richmond to take Escobar’s place.

 

Escobar has been hot in the Triple-A International League
hitting .351 in the month of May, a .333/.379/.456 performance on the season;
fifth in the IL batting title race. The 24-year-old has decent defensive skills,
and the ability to make contact evidenced by a 27/14 K:BB ratio in 46 games
this year, has hit the same in every situation throughout his career. He has
gap-to-gap power capable of using the whole field with good speed on the base
paths, but not a burner with upper theft abilities; a fine shortstop prospect
in the Orlando Cabrera mold – slightly below defensively — but has
disappointed many for never driving the ball for home run potential, possibly a
byproduct of his swing-first approach at the plate. While he’s the best option
for the Braves at present he’s not a good long-term fit as a third baseman. His
skills lend themselves to the middle position, possibly a utility player at
worst.

 

I wouldn’t expect too much this go-round, his approach at
the plate should find him behind and in trouble often against the better class
of pitcher; the learning curve issue for the aggressive types. Long term I
suspect he won’t be with the Braves with Edgar Renteria signed through 2008 and
Elvis Andrus — the younger and more highly-touted prospect — possibly ready to
challenge for the role then, but, opportunity has a way of changing these views. And I’d be remiss if I failed to note the aforementioned Lillibridge as a potential major league middle infielder in any long-term Braves discussion.

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