PP Scouting Report: 2B, Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano caught the eyes of scouts and prospect-hunters when he opened the 2003 season on a tear. The second baseman went 5/5 in his first game with the Tampa Yankees and had a .440 batting average through his first eleven games before finally coming back to earth. Cano has drawn comparisons to Alfonso Soriano for his style of play and natural ability, but while second base may be his position now, it may not be in the future.

Robinson Cano came to the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on January 5, 2001. Now 21 years old, Cano posted fairly impressive numbers in his first full season at low-A Greensboro in 2002. With the Bats he posted a .445 slugging percentage and 14 homeruns, leading scouts to think that he could project to a power-hitter in the majors. Since his promotions to the higher-A and AA levels however, Cano hasn't shown the same power.

Similar in style to Soriano, Cano is also a guy that isn't in the batter's box to draw a walk. While he has shown moderately better contact abilities than his fellow Dominican native, he still doesn't know how to properly handle a breaking pitch. This is mostly due to his long, quick swing, which is tailor-made for hammering fastballs, but not so good for the curve. Cano has quick wrists, also like Soriano, which should help him eventually handle those low breaking pitches.

Cano, a left-hander, could hit for average if he keeps his strikeouts down, but his power probably won't develop much unless he gains some muscle. Right now Cano's upper limit homerun total would appear to be around 20, and that might be generous. He hit a combined six homeruns between Tampa and Trenton this season with 25 doubles. His slugging percentage hasn't been anywhere near his career-high of .445 since he began playing at higher levels.

Defensively, Cano appears to be at least an average fielder at second base. Cano committed just five errors in 44 games at second base, one at shortstop and one at catcher for Trenton this year. In 88 games at second base for Tampa, he committed 13 errors. Cano has below-average range and footwork to go with his average arm, prompting most to think that he won't stay at second base very long. Cano could very well end up at third base or left field somewhere down the line.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2003

Trenton

.280

164

9

1

13

21

0

9

16

.341

.366

2003

Tampa

.276

366

16

5

50

50

1

17

49

.313

.377

2002

Staten Island

.276

87

5

1

15

11

6

4

8

.308

.391

2002

Greensboro

.276

474

20

14

66

67

2

29

78

.321

.445

2001

Staten Island

.250

8

0

0

2

0

0

0

2

.250

.250


*Stats as of 9/7/03.

Batting and Power - Cano has below-average plate discipline, but is a pretty good contact hitter that could put up moderate power numbers by the time he reaches the majors. Most scouts think Cano will eventually be a .300 hitter.

Base Running and Speed - While he has speed, Cano seems disinclined to try and steal bases. His career-high was eight swipes in 2002, but he stole just one base in 2003. He can run the bases however, as evidenced by his 14 career triples, nine of which came while he was playing for Greensboro in '02.

Defense - Defense doesn't appear to be Cano's strongest point. He's good enough at second base, but he is untested at third (where he'll probably end up eventually) and may not have the arm strength to be effective there.

Projection -With some more experience, Cano could probably start at second base for most teams thought it remains to be seen how he fares at third base. He's still just 21 and has a way to go before he makes the bigs, but at worst he'll be a solid backup for a team.

ETA - 2005/2006. Cano will begin the 2004 season with AA Trenton and, depending on how he performs, could reach AAA by midseason. He still needs a full season of AAA before he can be considered ready to be called up.

Second Basemen

2003 Team

Craig Wilson

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Andy Phillips

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Robinson Cano

AA - Trenton Thunder

Erick Macha A - Tampa Yankees
George Sterner A - Tampa Yankees
Enrique Cruz A - Staten Island Yankees
Adam Shorts A - Staten Island Yankees
Rafael Rodriguez R - Gulf Coast Yankees
Adam Unger R - Gulf Coast Yankees

COMMENTS

1. Craig Wilson - Wilson is a non-prospect.  The former White Sox farmhand played in 139 major-league games from 1998 to 2000 and hit .272 with decent peripherals.  The 33-year old right-hander hit .266 with seven homeruns and 52 runs scored in 2003 for the Clippers.  He could be a backup infielder for the Yankees should they require one next season as he can play second base, third or shortstop.

2. Andy Phillips - Had a breakout season in 2002 at AA, posting a .999 OPS in 272 at bats and earning Yankees Minor League Player of the Year.  Originally projected as a possible starting third baseman (his original position in college).  Since being promoted to AAA, however, he has stumbled.  Limited defensively, Phillips hit .209 in just 17 games this season due to injury.

3. Enrique Cruz - Yankees' 14th round draft pick in 2003.  Posted 1.021 OPS in final year of college with Rice University.  Batted .285 in 130 at bats with Staten Island and had excellent peripherals (.70 BB:K ratio), but slugging percentage took a hit at just .385.  7 errors in 31 games this season.  22-year old still needs to develop.

4. Adam Shorts - Hit just .208 with 55 strikeouts in 202 at bats for Staten Island, also committed 20 errors.

5. Adam Unger - Yankees' 29th round draft pick in 2003.  Went 2/24 in just 16 games for the GCL Yanks.  18-year old switch hitter needs more experience and to fill out his frame (5'8", 150 lbs).


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