Is Trevor Story The Rockies’ Answer At Second Base?
For years, the Colorado Rockies have searched for a suitable starter opposite star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. In 2014, the quest failed again as DJ LeMahieu slugged under .370 and reached base under 32% of the time for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, prized shortstop prospect Trevor Story slashed .200/.302/.380 following a mid-season call-up to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, creating worry he will go the way of so many other Rockies middle infielders. Will the former first-round pick turn things around or is he destined to be yet another mishap up the middle?
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Trevor Story fits the prototypical shortstop body type. While a few more pounds of muscle are in his future, the 2014 California League All-Star will never be physically imposing. While this may limit his raw power to an extent, the tradeoff is worthwhile for a player at a premium defensive position where quickness and agility are more important attributes.
Video by Mike Newman
In the field, the Dallas native shows above average range due to a quick first step and average speed. More than adequate range, combined with an average arm for the shortstop position will allow Story to stick long term. He has also played some third base in the minor leagues and should be able to handle the hot corner as well. From shortstop, second base is a step down the defensive spectrum leaving it an option as well.
As is common with young infielders, the 2011 draft pick is error-prone. While errors can be a misleading statistic, 41 over the past two seasons is not a number caused by bad luck. And while it’s not out of the ordinary, it’s something to keep an eye on in Trevor Story’s development.
Story has all the tools at the plate to succeed. A quick bat and enough strength to turn bat speed into power allowed has resulted in 48 or more extra base hits in each professional season. The top-20 Rockies prospect also utilizes a level bat plane which allows him to barrel fastballs when contact is made. However, contact is not made often enough. Story was completely over matched at the Double-A level, hitting at the Mendoza line and striking out at a rate of 34.6%.
The root cause is pitch recognition, something not easily fixed. In a two-game look, seven off-speed pitches were chased and most weren’t close to the zone. Story’s adjustments only made things worse. As he unsuccessfully attempted to wait on breaking balls, he left himself open to high fastballs and was consistently late on heaters. As noted by Mike Newman (article), strikeout rates rarely decrease from the minors to the majors and Story struck out over 27% of the time even while tearing up the California League.
In an organization which has trotted out DJ LeMahieu, Marco Scutaro, Jonathon Herrera, Mark Ellis, Jose Lopez, Eric Young, Clint Barmes and Jeff Baker at second base since 2008, stability is sorely needed. As a first round middle infield draft pick, the Rockies hope Trevor Story will be the one to finally solidify himself as a long-term solution. It is important to remember Story is still only 21 years old and had succeeded at every level prior to his Double-A struggles. However, massive pitch recognition issues leave the Octavio Dotel compensation pick as no more than a utility infielder.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Utility Infielder Hitting Ability 20 35 Power 25 40 Speed 55 50 Fielding Ability 40 55 Arm 50 50
Owning Trevor Story
In 2014, five middle infielders slugged 15 home runs and stole 15 bases. Story has the ability to do the same if pitch recognition skills can be developed further. And while he showed the ability to adjust in High-A before struggling again in the Texas League, a combination of high strikeouts and the amount of plate appearances needed to make adjustments is concerning. In terms of tools, Brian Dozier is a comparison to dream on, but the Twins second baseman has a proven eye at the plate and never struck out at rates close to Story at the MILB level. It’s becoming more difficult to view Trevor Story as a viable MLB starter with each strikeout, but he continues to be a personal favorite who wowed in the South Atlantic League and again in Arizona during Spring Training. I’m still holding for now and want to see what Story does over a full season in Double-A before pressing the panic button.
10 Oct 2014 / Grant Schiller /
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