Name: Tyler Wade
DOB: November 23, 1994
Batting and Power. With advanced pitch recognition, above average patience, and one of the more quick and compact swings around Wade has the makings of a burgeoning consistent hitter. He's willing to take pitches and draw walks, and take what the pitchers give him by using the whole field. When he's going right he's not pressing the issue and trying to do too much at the plate, and approaches every at-bat seemingly the same way. He is also willing to lay down a bunt either for a base hit or a sacrifice and, adept at moving runners over, playing small-ball is a very big part of his offensive game. He doesn't have much power yet -- it's still an aspect of his game that's still growing -- and it may never big a part of his game from a home run standpoint. Still, while the home run power is clearly below average, he does still have plenty of room to fill out and bump that tool up to at least a useful category as he continues to mature, probably maxing out as a low double-digit home run threat down the road. He's more of a doubles-hitter who goes from gap to gap and does the small things well to get on base and help his team.
Base Running and Speed. Noted more for his speed than power, Wade is actually more of an above average runner speed-wise than a plus one. He shows a quick first step getting out of the box and stealing bases, and he is certainly way above average running station to station. However, the recently turned 21-year old is still learning the nuances of swiping bases so while he has the wheels to be an annual 30-plus stolen base threat he will also run himself and his team into trouble as he continues to refine that aspect of his game. He's an impact runner in nearly every way but it doesn't come without its fair share of occasional gaffes too when he's a little too aggressive.
Defense. Wade's defensive game is pretty much just like his speed game, more reliably above average than standout. He has a real innate feel for playing shortstop, gets good reads and is quick to the ball with above average range, and compensates for fringy above average arm strength by getting rid of the ball very quickly and making accurate throws. He's an above average defender at shortstop overall but one who has also added second base to his defensive repertoire over the past calendar year where he once again has proven to be an above average defender in relatively quick fashion. Not a true elite defender at either spot, he has more than enough defensive game to be a consistently reliable option in the middle infield.
Projection. Wade gets knocked by critics for his obvious limited power potential. It is true that his moderate at best power potential does limit his ceiling somewhat as a potential big league starting middle infielder someday but that's merely looking at one physical tool. With above average speed, average or better hitting potential, and above average defensive abilities at two positions, he certainly has enough physical tools to safely project as an eventual big league reserve middle infielder. However, what often gets lost on critics is his enormous mental makeup and off the charts intangibles, immeasurable traits that allow him to be a more complete player than the physical tools merely reveal. A born leader, the type that team captains are made of, it's his uncanny ability to be very consistent on both sides of the ball that could allow him to become a manager's safety net and a player the team wants on the field everyday. It's because of those intangibles combined with his other above average physical tools that give him legitimate big league starting potential, albeit one whose game simply won't be about power hitting and one who would most likely bat in the bottom third of a big league lineup as more solid and consistent player than impact one. If he can continue to improve on his still very projectable frame and add a bit more useful power [at 21 years old he still has not gotten his 'man strength' yet] there's a Brian Roberts-like ceiling that can't be ignored, especially as he continues to refine the other areas of his game.
ETA. 2017. Despite the limited power Wade has been on the fast track through the minor leagues for a reason. He was exposed to Double-A last season, getting a late-season, 29-game trial with the Trenton Thunder, and it appears that will be his starting point for the 2016 season too. With a lot of quality shortstop depth quickly coming up behind him it's not out of the question that he sees some late-season action in Triple-A if he makes the Double-A adjustment first.