Profile: 2B - 5'8" - 185lbs -BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 23
• Hit: 50-55
• Power: 40-45
• Eye: 45-55
• Range: 40-45
• Hands: 45-50
• Arm: 40-40
• Run: 50-55
The Royals second round pick in the 2008 draft out of University of New Orleans, Giavotella has developed into a strong hitting second second baseman for the Royals. He signed quickly after being drafted for 780K and managed to get in a very impressive 310 plate appearances in A ball. After more than holding his own the Royals have moved him up a level each year and in 2010 he exploded with a .855 OPS and despite his relatively diminutive stature, has himself looming large on the Royals radar.
At the plate Giavotella has the kind of quiet swing that I love. His stride is short and simple, his load and hands are quick. His swing is easy and he takes the shortest route to the ball possible. It is really hard to beat him inside. He does a good job transferring his weight through his hips on contact and hits off his back leg, squarely over his back knee. That helps him generate good rotational torque and combined with his uppercut swing allows him to hit for more power than you'd expect from someone with his frame.
I gave Giavotella a 55 grade for his hit, but I toyed with a 60 mark. The only thing holding him back is a better and more consistent ability to barrel balls. In addition to his ability to hit in the .270-.280 range he's got .140 ISO power and a very strong eye at the plate, a he does a good job both in drawing walks and limiting his strikeouts.
Defensively is where Johnny lacks. Despite solid natural speed which translates into average stolen base numbers, his range is probably a tick below average and his hands are more average than good. His arm is also not below average, though playing at second base helps mask that. Still, he should be capable of playing a respectable if somewhat below average second base.
BABIP assisted batting average aside, Giavotella's impressive 2010 campaign had the underlying signs of improvement you look for. While he was a bit young for AA, he managed to improve his power output with a modest 16 point ISO increase, as well as his walk rate and he took a significant step forward in the LD department. The walk rate and power are pretty well established at this point but the big question for me heading into 2011 will be whether he can sustain his LD rates. If so, his average will likely play above my current projections.
A Todd Walker type.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.