Saturday, September 18, 2010

Examining Brent Morel

With the 2010 season on ice after being swept at home by the Twins to put them nine games out of first, the White Sox have turned to playing their youngsters. One of those players is third baseman Brent Morel. Earlier in the season the Sox gave Dayan Viciedo a shot but his inability to make consistent contact combined with poor defense at third made that a short-lived experiment. There certainly is no guarantee that the Morel experience will last any longer or be any more effective, but with 2010's regular third baseman Omar Vizquel, who worked himself into the role more by happenstance, not getting any younger the Sox are doing their due diligence by getting the youngsters some at-bats.

Morel split his 2010 season between AA and AAA posting an OPS of .806 at the first stop and .851 at the second. He still strikes out a bit more than you'd like and his walk rates are pretty anemic, but at 23 he's still young for his level and there is plenty of reason to hope that he'll improve on those numbers some more. Defensively he's solid but unspectacular, though he's already made a couple minor gaffs. Undoubtedly the White Sox are going to want to see him iron out his game some more in AAA again next year.

In his short tenure with the big club he's already clubbed a pair of homeruns in just 12 at-bats. That power wont last - he's hit just 32 home runs in 1,207 minor league at-bats - but his 10 home runs between AA and AAA at just 23 suggest he has 15-20 homerun pop as his offensive game develops. His .320 average in the minors this year is largely the result of a huge .372 BABIP but he looks like a guy who can hit .270-.280 over his career.

Actually, he reminds me a little bit of the Twins Danny Valencia and I think their offensive games project similarly. Like Valencia last year, there were questions about his defense, and Morel will need to answers those questions for the better, but overall, the complete package looks like a guy who will be a solid if unspectacular Major Leaguer for quite a few years to come.

At just 21 years old, Viciedo is the more interesting prospect, especially with his huge power, but he's got tons of holes in his game. He strikes out far too much, doesn't walk nearly enough, and wont hit for enough average as is. To say nothing of his defense, which could generously be described as awful. Of course it's extremely important to remember that he's just 21 and spent this year splitting time between AAA and the Majors. He's got plenty of time to figure his game out. But in terms of projectability, you have to like Morel.

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