The Tigers heavily scouted Azcona for as long as two years according to some reports, prior to his signing in 2008. As a member of the class of 2008 international signees, the Tigers pounced on Azcona on July 2nd, ensuring they were able to sign what in their mind could be the crown jewel of their 2008 class. Miguel Rodrigues, Ramon Perez, and Miguel Garcia teamed up to sign him to a 2009 contract with a $258,000 bonus.
Azcona's all-around ability made him one of the Tigers top prospects signed during the 2008 signing period. He has all five tools in spades, and they all show each time he takes the field.
Hitting from a closed stance, Azcona has an innate ability to hit the ball to all fields with his powerful, line drive stroke. Though he has a wiry frame with room for added muscle, he has strong arms and wrists, and he generates good bat speed through the zone. He has flashed significant power potential in batting practice, but it has yet to show regularly in games. His concept of the strike zone is good for such a young player, but he will need to refine his approach and pitch recognition as he faces more advanced pitchers.
Azcona's speed, arm strength, and instincts make him look the part of a true professional shortstop. He has excellent range to both his backhand and glove sides, getting to balls all over the left side of the infield. Though he is still learning the nuances of positioning himself appropriately, his natural ability alone gives him the potential to be an excellent defender at the games toughest infield position.
Javier has an excellent work ethic. He loves playing the game, loves hitting, and truly wants to excel in all facets of the game. He has already begun to add muscle and strength to his frame, and many expect him to become a physical specimen in short order.
There is little doubt Azcona can stick at shortstop, and his bat shows the potential to be a plus tool in every aspect. The only thing that will slow him is his ability to adjust to advanced pitching once he comes stateside. Every tool is there to make Azcona a star, and it will be just a matter of putting them together in game action.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% R
His career has been very brief thus far, but Azcona has not had any injury concerns to date. He has had regular days off during his first professional summer, and the Tigers may handle him with kid gloves through next year as he builds stamina for the grind of a long season.
Azcona hasn't been a dominating force this season in the Dominican, but he has again drawn rave reviews from scouts. He is still raw, but he has flashed power and speed, along with strong defensive skills, making him a player to watch. The Tigers love his skill set, and he is a strong candidate to be brought stateside for the 2010 season, as the Tigers are eager to get him into a more regimented workout program and see him against stiffer competition.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.