Top Prospect #21: SS Andy Machado

Andy Machado is an interesting player to study. Nobody disputes that fact that there is a lot of talent, but it's also hard to dispute the fact that Machado hasn't taken full advantage of all that talent and struggles both at the plate and in the field at times. While nobody is expecting perfection, if Machado ever put it all together, the result would be awesome.

Where to start on Andy Machado? The Phillies signed Machado as an amateur free agent in January of 1998. What they saw was a raw player with skills that needed to develop. Unfortunately, they see a lot of those same things now, six years later.

 

Machado spent the 1998 season in the Dominican Summer League and as expected, struggled, especially at the plate. The following summer, Machado came to the United States as an 18 year old looking to fit in. He spent time in extended spring training, waiting for the Gulf Coast League to begin and when it did, he opened with a blaze. Through the first 20 games of the season, Machado was hitting .350 and also led the league in sacrifice hits. He joined Clearwater for a few days before returning to the GCL and then being promoted to Piedmont (the Phillies low A team at the time). Overall, the '99 season was a success and Machado seemed well on his way.

 

When Machado reached Clearwater in 2000, he turned on the after-burners and showed just how much speed he had. In 117 games at Clearwater, he swiped 54 bases and hit .245. After a particularly hot stretch in late August, the Phillies sent Machado ahead to AA Reading for a taste of where he would be starting the 2001 season. While some feared that he was being rushed too much, Machado responded and hit .364 in 11 at bats. The important part was that he seemed comfortable at the AA level. The surprise came the next spring when the Phillies decided to keep Machado at Clearwater. Machado would wind up spending most of the season in the Florida State League, but did venture to Reading later in the season and was the starting shortstop for Reading in the Eastern League playoffs even though he hit just .149 at AA during the regular season.

 

Again, some in the Phillies system thought that Machado needed more time at Clearwater, but he was sent to Reading for the 2002 season. The Phillies were working with Machado to make more contact at the plate and while he had cut down somewhat on strikeouts in 2001, he was constantly swinging through pitches at AA. Machado finished the 2002 season with 118 strikeouts. Still, he found ways to get on base – 72 walks – and still stole 40 bases. While he was still young, just 21 when the 2002 season ended, the Phillies slowed down Machado's progress. There was some speculation that they would move him to AAA Scranton, but 2003 saw Machado back at Reading.

 

While Machado has been cut some slack because he was young, 2003 started to raise more and more red flags. Machado suffered through his worst season as a pro in 2003. He struck out a career high 120 times and hit just .196 for Reading. The optimists among us will point out that he walked 108 times, helping him to amass an OBP of .360 and he also stole 49 bases. The Phillies though see the cup as half-empty. While Machado's stolen base and OBP numbers were especially impressive, the Phillies believe that Machado is wasting his talent. Their patience is drawing thin with Machado, because they know that major league pitching won't issue 108 walks to a guy who only hit .196. While his speed is well above average, Machado simply won't make it if he doesn't find a way to put the bat on the ball more often.

 

The Phillies also worry about Machado defensively. One of the theories is that he easily loses focus. Machado will make an amazingly acrobatic play on one ball and then watch as a routine grounder trickles through his legs. Machado's downfall is concentration, but the Phillies haven't been able to find a way to harness all of Machado's talents and get him to see what he could do if he stayed focused.

 

Coming into 2004, Machado is 23 and needs to put up good numbers. The Phillies brought him to the majors for a taste of major league life last September and part of the theory was to show him where he can be. With almost 1,000 at bats at the AA level, there's not much reason to figure that Machado will learn anything new by returning to Reading. With a career .218 average at AA, there may in fact be reason for Machado to start at Reading. The Phillies though will likely start Machado at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Machado is young enough that he can spend a couple seasons at AAA if needed, but considering the fact that some thought he would be at AAA last year at the latest, he's well behind schedule. The fact that the Phillies don't need to rush Machado to fill a major league spot means that they'll be as patient as possible, but will also want to see more progress from his in 2004.

 

Andy Machado's Career Stats

 

Year/League

HR

RBI

AVG

SB

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

BB

KO

1998 DSL

0

17

.201

4

68

215

26

44

7

0

30

44

1999 GCL

(Rookie)

2

12

.259

6

43

143

26

37

6

3

15

38

1999 Piedmont

(Low A)

0

7

.233

2

20

60

7

14

4

2

7

20

‘99 Clearwater

(High A)

0

0

.000

0

1

2

0

0

0

0

0

1

‘00 Clearwater

(High A)

1

35

.245

32

117

417

55

102

19

7

54

103

2000 Reading

(AA)

1

2

.364

0

3

11

2

4

1

0

0

4

‘01 Clearwater

(High A)

5

36

.261

23

82

272

49

71

5

8

31

66

2001 Reading

(AA)

1

8

.149

5

31

101

13

15

2

0

12

25

2002 Reading

(AA)

12

77

.251

40

126

450

71

113

24

3

72

118

2003 Reading

(AA)

5

20

.196

49

123

426

80

83

19

4

108

120

Minor League Totals

27

214

.229

161

614

2101

329

483

87

27

329

539


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