Not a bonus baby when he signed on July 2, 2008, that doesn't mean he wasn't a priority signing for the Tigers. The organization had been on Machado for an extended time and they were quick to make a move and get him into the system. He impressed in the Venezuelan Parallel League that winter.
The Tigers started Machado off in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2009, where he showed one of the better infield gloves in the circuit, despite 17 errors in only 61 games. His bat lagged behind as he hit just .205 in 277 plate appearances, but he did manage 32 walks against 32 strikeouts, and he also stole 27 bases in 33 tries.
Wasting no time, the Tigers brought the 18-year old Machado stateside for spring training in 2010 and he showed enough to stick around in EST and earn an assignment to the GCL squad in June.
In 43 games for the GCL Tigers Machado hit .261/.315/.321 while stealing 12 bases in 15 attempts. He again showed an outstanding glove with only six errors in 182 chances. The Tigers shipped him up to the New York-Penn League to end the season and he hit .292/.393/.333 in seven games for the CT-Tigers.
Machado is a classic Venezuelan shortstop with a brilliant glove and lots of questions surrounding his bat. Machado's glove is absolutely superb, with plus-plus potential at shortstop. Scouts had little trouble envisioning a potential Gold Glove defender down the line.
He has outstanding instincts and first step quickness, combined with above-average to plus speed, and he shows exceptional range to both sides. He has good hands and footwork that belies his age. His arm strength is above-average and he could have a plus arm as he adds strength to his frame.
His speed and instincts work well on the bases, as he shows an uncanny ability to get jumps on pitchers and steal bases. He is still developing his instincts when looking to take the extra base on a hit, but that should come with experience.
At the plate, Machado has a simple swing that starts from low hands. He lacks strength and doesn't get the bat to the zone quickly, but he has above-average contact ability and can spray the ball from line to line. He rarely drives the ball with any authority, and he will have to add strength to his swing to be an offensive threat down the line. Scouts have serious questions about his entire offensive profile. The organization considers Machado a plus makeup guy. He works hard and generally remains on an even keel, even when things aren't going his way. Defensively, Machado could be a big league shortstop in the near future. Offensively, his profile is far from that of a big leaguer. If he can develop his hit tool to even an average level, his speed and defense may get him to The Show.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% R
Machado hasn't had any significant injuries in his brief career. There are some questions among scouts about the durability of his slight frame, but that could change as he matures physically in the next couple of years.
Ideally, the Tigers would like to get the soon-to-be 19-year old Machado into the everyday lineup at West Michigan in 2011. There is little doubt that his glove can handle the full-season assignment, but his bat could relegate him to the bottom of the ‘Caps lineup for the bulk of the summer.
Machado isn't going to fly through the system unless his bat suddenly takes a major step forward. With Hernan Perez, Gustavo Nunez, and Cale Iorg ahead of him on the ladder, he will likely move one level at a time for the next couple of years before showing up on the big league radar, possibly during the 2014 season.
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