Why the hype?
Wilfredo Tovar, SS: Tovar is the type of prospect that divides minor league followers. Some think he will be a great defensive shortstop who will hit enough to play every day while some think he will be a great defensive shortstop and that is it. At least most everyone will agree his defense could be gold glove caliber one day which is why he is regarded as a legit prospect. Most people fool themselves into believing that one day Tovar’s hitting will catch up to his defense, but this is a mistake.
It’s very easy to see someone hit decently in the minors and believe that it will play up in the majors, especially when that player has such good defense that one wants to see him be able to start every day. Many Mets fans were fooled by Matt Den Dekker this year in Double-A Binghamton because his defense could win a gold glove this year and he was tearing it up with the bat. However if one has been following the minors this year, they saw how quickly his bat came down to Earth in Triple A. Same thing is happening to Tovar in Double-A right now.
After hitting .284/.377/.385 (average/on base percentage/slugging percentage) in Single A, many fans began to get excited over Tovar especially because he was 20 years old at the time. One big concern over Tovar was that he’d never be able to drive the ball in the gap and he was now apparently proving the doubters wrong with his .385 slugging percentage, 17 doubles, and 1 triple. Unfortunately, that didn’t power didn’t carry over to Double-A. His slash line of .230/281/304 to go along with his 8 2Bs and 2 3Bs is not encouraging.
You might be thinking is gap power really that important to Tovar’s development? Do not fool yourself – it is. If Tovar never develops any power to drive the ball in the gaps he will not be all that useful to major league offense. Sure he could slash the ball through the infield for singles and take a walk or two, but once he is on base he really does not have enough speed. This year he’s stolen only 14 bases (SB) and has been caught stealing (CS) 8 times. This does not translate to the major league level. Also, if he becomes just a singles hitter, defenses can play against that. Defenders can play shallower and take away bloop singles because they will not fear Tovar hitting one over their heads.
Another mistake fans make with Tovar is referring to him as Ruben Tejada 2.0. This is a product of people overrating Tovar and really underrating Tejada. Both of them play shortstop, play good defense, draw walks and that is where the comparisons should stop. At the same level and two years younger, Tejada hit .289/.351/.389 with 24 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 5 HRs, and 19 SB/3 CS. Seeing Tejada’s SB/CS is surprising because it hasn’t translated to the majors at all so far, so could you just imagine how Tovar’s speed would translate to the majors?
As one can see, the difference between Tovar and Tejada is Tejada has the gap power to succeed in the majors. As of now, Tovar hasn’t shown he has it at a more advanced level. If he can bulk up and develop that power, Tovar has a chance to break into a line up every day. If he can’t develop that power, he will be a nice bench player that could provided great defense, singles, and walks. Ultimately, this Mets fan sees him as trade bait down the road. I predict he will be traded in a package deal for major league talent soon.
So I ask – why the hype?