Chris Chinea (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2017 gets underway with the first selection. FREE report!

A time share among catcher, first base and designated hitter kept the 22-year old’s productive bat in the middle of Peoria’s lineup.

http://www.scout.com/player/188897-chris-chinea?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
BOR 1B/C/DH 05 03 94 2015 17th

Selected 2016 stats

Tm AVG BABIP AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO SB wOBA OBP SLG OPS
Peo 0.312 0.359 381 40 119 24 6 63 22 64 1 0.357 0.350 0.423 0.772

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (51): Chris Chinea began to receive some community support from members 14NyquisT and Wileycard in the mid 40’s of the voting. He ended up being selected as the #51 prospect in our community rankings. That is a drop from last year, when the community had him ranked at #44. Overall, Chinea placed among the The Cardinal Nation’s “Best of the Rest” for 2016.

Back then, SoonerinNC liked how Chinea carried over his great record from LSU. 14NyquisT began the talk this year pointing out some solid stats for Chinea such as how he tied for Peoria’s Midwest League playoff club lead in RBI while hitting .312. Wileycard said that Chinea is a terrific hitter, but defense will dictate whether he ends up as a catcher or first baseman. 14NyquisT defended Chinea again pointing out that, as a first baseman, he may see a more aggressive path to promotion with the lack of depth at the position among Cardinals’ prospects, and favorably compares to a catcher-only type of prospect like Brian O’Keefe. - Jeremy Byrd

 

Derek Shore (49): After ranking as my #47 prospect last year at this time, the former LSU product became an offensive force for Low-A Peoria in his first full season and emerged as one of the top run producers for the Cardinals in the lower levels in 2016.

His numbers reflected his production.

Chinea, 22, posted a .312/.350/.423 slash line with six homers and tied fellow backstop Brian O'Keefe for the team lead with 63 RBI in a lineup that included heralded prospects Magneuris Sierra, Eliezer Alvarez, and Edmundo Sosa at the top of the order. However, the right-handed hitter, a catcher by draft out of Louisiana State University, appeared mostly at first base and received vast majority of his plate appearances as a designated hitter for Peoria.

His hitting coach Jobel Jimenez lauded his ability at the plate and attributed his improvement to increased playing time during an exclusive interview in October.

"He is an older guy," Jimenez said of Chinea. "He had a great season (for us). He had more (playing time) this year because he can hit and was more in the lineup. He is a DH/first baseman. He's learning how to play that position (first) which is good for him because he's got more of a chance to be in the lineup because he can catch and play first.

"He is one of those good hitters we have. The guy's got a good idea at the plate. He's got some pop. The guy has shown to make adjustments, especially behind in the count and against off-speed pitches."

Ever since his amateur days, Chinea has been renowned for his hit tool with scouts saying he possesses a strong feel for the barrel while being an adept fastball hitter. Last offseason, his signing scout Charles Peterson said, "When everything's on time, he puts a charge on the ball."

The Miami, Florida native put up middling gap-power numbers including just 24 doubles, so his value is a bit limited since he does not profile as a prototypical right-handed hitting power hitter, especially being defensively challenged. Thus, his bat will have to do all the heavy lifting and gives him a smaller margin for error, in my opinion.

Chinea has an interesting profile because of the bat, and he proved to play above the Midwest League thanks to an advanced approach, but the fact he is primarily playing first base makes me skeptical that catching is a likely future role for him. Peterson once mentioned left field as an option.

Ultimately, I believe with his bat and lack of versatility makes him an ideal organizational type the Cardinals maximize every ounce from. I expect to see him open 2017 at High-A Palm Beach.

 

Brian Walton (53): The fact that Chinea placed in my ranking is out of respect for his .300-plus batting average and RBI production at Peoria this season. Even so, his six home runs in over 400 plate appearances and a doubles total that was just third-best on his own team did not stand out as a dominating performance. (Note the wrap-around helmet that has been his choice since he was hit in the face by a pitch in college.)

As noted above, Chinea was not his team’s primary choice behind the plate nor was he the regular at first base, either. Frankly, a less-than-imposing Class-A designated hitter in a National League organization who is more of a singles hitter than a home run threat would seem to have a cloudy outlook of reaching St. Louis.

On the positive side, I watched Chinea play a fair amount of first base at instructional league camp and I was actually impressed by his ability around the bag. Specifically, he was adept at corralling errant throws despite lacking the prototypical height many at the position possess. Perhaps that was his catching genes showing.

In the photo below, Chinea works on drills at first base with coaches Jose Oquendo and Oliver Marmol.

Jose Oquendo, Oliver Marmol, Chris Chinea (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
 

Yet, when I put it all together, I see an organizational soldier who needs to step it up in the power department and find a true home defensively to create a decent chance to reach the Majors one day. One month into next season, Chinea will turn 23 years of age, so the clock is ticking and his likely next stop, Palm Beach, is not a favorable location for hitters to say the least.

TCN Scouting Grade: 2.5, Risk: Extreme (click here to review scales)

 

Our 2017 top 50 series continues

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