Scouting Prospect #50: Richard Hidalgo

Richard Hidalgo was signed as an international free agent and made his debut on American soil in the summer of 2006. While his overall statistics weren't overly impressive, scouts have raved about his overall toolset and feel his upside is as high as anyone's. For this reason, he's our Nationals prospect #50. (Free Preview!)

Vital Statistics
Name: Richard Hidalgo
Position: Outfield
DOB: July 24, 1987
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Richard Hidalgo entered the 2006 season with very little fanfare or praise from any scouts around baseball mainly because he was unknown commodity. And, despite his rather unimpressive statistics this year in the Gulf Coast League, many scouts, teammates, and player development staff couldn't help but be impressed by the toolsy Dominican native. Flashing a strong arm and good range in the outfield along with huge power potential at the plate, Hidalgo was perhaps the most intriguing "little known" prospect in the lower levels of the Washington farm system.

Overall, 2006 was a struggle for Hidalgo but most within the Nationals' organization tend to ignore that fact this early in Hidalgo's career. They are looking at the big picture; Hidalgo has all the tools to be an impact player. The only question is if they can put those tools to work and turn them into a successful big league career.

In 2006, The 6-foot-2, 170 pounder batted just .173 with 2 home runs and 9 RBI. He also struck out 35 times as opposed to just 3 walks. He is a young, free swinger that showed he has obvious problems with strike zone judgment. But, when he connected he showed excellent raw pop. Washington, despite his lack of offensive production found positives in his defense in right field and decent speed on the bases.

"It always seems like there are so many guys with potential at the rookie ball levels that have trouble performing consistently, " former Assistant Director, Player Development said of of the GCL talent. "Richard Hidalgo is an outfielder that is very raw, he is 19 and in the US for the first time, but he does have some tools. Our job is to help him get the most out of those tools so that sometime soon, it translates into performance."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB BB SO OBP

SLG

2006

GCL Nationals

.173

110

6

2

9

9

0 3 35 .207

.282



Batting and Power. In batting practice, it is more than evident that Hidalgo has the huge power potential that could one day make him a middle of the order threat. Some of that power translated into game success this season, as he slugged 2 home runs and 6 doubles in 110 at-bats. Like most young hitters, he needs a great deal of work on his pitch selection and needs to learn the strike zone. If he can improve in those areas, he'll be able to make that plus raw power usable in game situations, but it seems that it may take a lot of work before he reaches that potential. As many 19-year-olds do, the young Dominican has holes in his swing that could be exploited at the next level, but there's no doubt that he has the bat speed and strength to handle the best fastballs. He could profile to hit 25 home runs or more annually at the big league level.

Base running and Speed. With slightly above average speed, Hidalgo may never be a dangerous stolen base threat or a rangy center fielder, but that doesn't mean he can't still be plus defensively at a corner outfield position or steal his fair share of bags. Hidalgo profiles as the type of guy who may slow down as he bulks up his naturally large frame, but his speed will remain at least average. As far as corner outfielders go, he has above average range not necessarily because of great jumps but good natural speed. The 19-year-old also is not a naturally instinctive base runner but that figures to improve with age.

Defense. Hidalgo has all the natural tools to be a well above average defensive corner outfielder, and simply needs to work on his jumps and routes. Blessed with a plus throwing arm, he could be a weapon in right field but is sometimes inaccurate. Like every part of his game, all the tools are in place but just need the refinement. His potentially plus range also have scouts raving of his upside, but he still has a lot of learning to do on making the routine plays and learning the ins and outs of the position.

Projection. For Richard Hidalgo, it is all about "projection." As far as "now talent" is concerned, it isn't there yet for Hidalgo; but all the tools he possesses could one day add up to an impact player at the Major League level. Hidalgo most likely will never be a guy who hits for a very high average, figuring to hit around .26-270 annually. But, his 25 home run a year potential is what makes him so intriguing. That, along with his strong throwing arm and solid defense could carry him to the next level.

ETA. Late 2011. At this point, Hidalgo is so far off that it is very difficult to pinpoint his ETA. The Nationals are going to take things very slowly with him and there may be many points in his minor league career where he experiences troubles. He could begin the 2007 back in extended spring training before spending a second season in the Gulf Coast League.

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