A 38th round draft and follow out of Chandler-Gilbert Junior College, Chris Vinyard was signed right before the 2006 draft for $90,000. Though he‘ll never be mistaken for a great athlete, Vinyard immediately showed promise with his bat. The Orioles feel he could join several of their higher picks in 2005 to make for their best amateur draft in several years.
DOB: 12/15/85 Height: 6-4 Weight: 215 B/T: R/R
Chris Vinyard's age 20 season:
Chris Vinyard made an immediate impression on the organization, posting a 1.176 OPS in June and leading the league in home runs (8) and doubles (26). He struggled after his fast start, but came back strong at the end of the year after taking a day off in early August to work with the Orioles' roving hitting instructor. He's a very strong kid and his power is quite legitimate. Vinyard even won the New-York Penn League's home run derby in front of his home crowd. Some feel that he could eventually post 25 homeruns over a full season.
Although Vinyard had a moderately high strikeout rate in 2006, he actually has a compact stroke that should allow him to maintain his ~.280 batting average as he moves up the organizational ladder. He hit right-handers substantially better than lefties in his debut, but his coaches think that was more of a small sample size fluke than any sign of problems to come. Vinyard has below-average speed and instincts on the basepaths.
Originally drafted as a catcher, Vinyard doesn‘t really have a position. He was immediately moved to first base as a pro, due to his poor footwork and slow release, but he didn‘t exactly take to the position well. Vinyard‘s footwork at first base was equally awkward and he has limited range. He also has stiff hands and his relative inexperience showed at times. Some in the organization think he will eventually become serviceable at first base, but he won‘t be competing for gold gloves any time soon. His limited speed rules the outfield out as an alternative.
As a right-handed hitting first baseman, Vinyard has his work cut out for him. Simply put, his bat will have to carry him to the majors. Luckily, that shouldn‘t be a problem. Vinyard will likely make his full-season debut in low-A Delmarva, but a strong spring could make high-A Frederick a viable option. With an advanced feel for hitting and little corner depth in the organization to block him from advancing, Vinyard could move fast.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com