Reds top prospect Yonder Alonso is a first baseman, but the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft is blocked there by reigning MVP Joey Votto.
In an effort to find a long-term home for Alonso in the lineup alongside Votto the Reds have been using him in left field and now Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that they’ve even started giving him some ground balls at third base.
I’ve seen plenty of prospect analysts express doubt about Alonso’s ability to be a decent left fielder, so third base is probably stretch.
With that said, Alonso did tell Sheldon that “third base was my position growing up” and “it comes easier than the other two positions.” Alonso also pointed out that he played first base in college in part because the University of Miami had Ryan Braun and Danny Valencia on the roster and “those were two pretty good third basemen.”
Regardless of his position Alonso hasn’t played much at all since being called up from Triple-A on July 26 and he seems far more likely to be traded this offseason than to see significant action at third base in Cincinnati. Alonso, who ranked 73rd on Baseball America‘s list of top prospects coming into the season, has hit .296 with 24 homers, 55 doubles, and an .842 OPS in 192 games at Triple-A, so right now his bat projecting as less than elite might be a bigger issue than his eventual home defensively.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.