How Does Odubel Herrera Fit Into a Crowded Rangers Middle Infield?
After winning the Texas League batting title, excitement surrounds second baseman Odubel Herrera as he heads into a Rule-5 eligible off-season. However, the top-20 Rangers prospect resides in a system filled with upper-level middle infielders including big-league starters Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor and defensive specialists Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto. A successful return from a recurring shoulder injury by Jurickson Profar would further clog Herrera’s path to the big leagues. Will the Frisco RoughRider be able to separate himself from the pack or will he need to find his way to another organization for an everyday job?
Odubel Herrera stands at just 5-foot-11, 200 pounds. While a lack of size limits his power potential, the 2014 Texas League All-Star can’t afford to . He has the room to add a couple more pounds of muscle, but more would negatively affect his range and quickness. As an up-the-middle position player, the opportunity cost is just too high.
Video by Steve Fiorindo
The 22-year-old’s strongest tool lies with his bat. A level swing allows him to spray the ball on a line to all fields. The Venezuelan is an advanced opposite-field hitter, actually going the other way with pitches more often than pulling them. Often this can be caused by a lack of bat speed, but this is not the case with “Doobie”. He shows an impressive ability to sit back on outside pitches for a young player. Odubel Herrera is able to repeat his mechanics on a consistent basis and his short, level swing path leaves him without any glaring holes. While his relatively flat swing limits power, both home run and gap (125 of 151 2014 base hits were singles), it also allows him to post a high line-drive rate which leads to consistently high BABIPs. Herrera has posted massive gaps in his lefty/righty splits throughout his career. In 2014, the 2008 international signing batted .353 vs right-handed pitchers and .207 against southpaws. This leaves him as a platoon option as opposed to a true everyday player.
From talking to scouts who saw Herrera in 2013, it is clear he’s shown a great deal of improvement. A season ago, he was noted for poor plate discipline and weak defense. In 2014, the lefty saw noticeable improvement in both areas. This development was backed up quantitatively by a 3% jump in Double-A walk rate and a nine error drop. While both continue to need further advancement, the growth shown already displays Odubel Herrera’s work ethic.
When motivated, the Rule-5 eligible second baseman shows plus speed. In general, Herrera’s base running needs refinement. A 70% stolen base success-rate and inconsistent hustle are not what are expected out of a player capable of running a plus time from home to first. In the field, this speed allows him more than adequate range. At second base, the glove has developed and now projects as major-league average. However, attempts at shortstop and left field have both failed, leaving utility as an unrealistic role.
Odubel Herrera has what it takes to be a successful major league second baseman. However, he is in an organization which already owns Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar, both of whom rate higher. With an inability to play shortstop, utility is not a role he is able to man. As a Rule-5 eligible player on a team looking to contend in 2015 which has little room on its 40-man roster and a glut of talent at second base, the chances Herrera is dealt are notable. While it’s unlikely to happen in Texas, a major-league future exists somewhere for Herrera.
Tool Present Future Projected Role League Average Platoon Second Baseman Hitting Ability 40 55 Power 20 30 Speed 60 60 Fielding Ability 45 50 Arm 45 50
Owning Odubel Herrera
In deep dynasty leagues, Herrera has some value — especially for an owner who implores a splits strategy. If he can become a cross between Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio, then he’s a player worth owning and leveraging at the end of a fantasy baseball bench. His inability to play shortstop is disappointing, but players like Josh Harrison have proven capable of playing everyday while shuffling positions. Odubel Herrera if a lesser player, lacking the power to be a Harrison-like contributor. However, he’s a strong middle infield option if he can bat .285 and steal 20-plus bases at the MLB level in 400-500 plate appearances. – Mike Newman
31 Oct 2014 / Grant Schiller /
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