Jose Altuve Scouting Report (2010)
Without much time to prepare to scout the Lexington Legends prior to heading to the park, I knew little about the roster after former early round picks Jiovanni Mier and Tanner Bushue. In a move uncharacteristic of me, I threw the question out to “tweeps” hoping to be thrown a name or two as I hurried to make sure I at least had rosters, the radar gun, and video camera.
If I remember correctly, it was @AppyAstros who first mentioned Altuve was a nice player after seeing him a number of times in the Appalachian League. Of course my first reaction was, “seriously?” since his listed height of 5’5″ probably leaves him as the shortest prospect in minor league baseball. After watching him play multiple times, I understand why he has gained prospect cred including placement in Baseball Prospectus’ Houston Astros Top-11 Prospects
Physical Projection – Simply put, Altuve has very little projection. At 5’5″, and a stout 150 lbs. or so, he has a muscular frame including broad shoulders and a well-developed lower half. For his size, he has “Popeye” strength along with speed and explosive movements. However, it’s impossible to avoid coming back to his size as a limiting factor when envisioning Altuve’s future roll/or lack thereof at the big league level.
Offense – One of my favorite hitters to watch in 2010, Altuve has an extremely short stroke and little-to-no strike zone to speak of. He may have had the most memorable at bat of the 2010 season for me as he worked and 0-2 count back to full up in-between fouling off what seemed like a dozen pitches before lacing a single up the middle. There’s just no way around the fact that the kid can hit. PERIOD!
However, one is forced to wonder how his surprising power will play at higher levels considering the bat looks like a billy club in his grip. Throughout my playing career, I knew a number of non-power hitters (like myself) who looked like He-Man when facing less-experienced or inferior competition. I suspect this is part of the explanation for Altuve’s home run total as his approach and ability to take advantage of his small strike zone clearly gave him the upper hand during most at bats. However, he certainly wasn’t looking to work deep counts as he frequently looked to square up fastballs early in an at bat. Breaking balls also gave him some difficulty as his “walk away” stride and slight pause in his load led to his being out front and off balance.
Defense – In continuing with the theme that Jose Altuve excels at areas of the game he can control, his defense at second base is stellar. He plays sound, fundamental defense making routine plays with ease. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to see his range left and right and am left wondering just how much his size limits his ability to get to balls deep in the hole. An inability to envision him at shortstop severely limits his value as a potential utility player as second base is his only real projectable home.
Speed – 42/56 in stolen base attempts across two levels, he obviously has the speed and intelligence to steal bases, but his success rate has dropped with each subsequent level. Until Altuve proves otherwise, I’m forced to believe this is a developing trend which will only recede even further with time. For now, I can envision Altuve as a 15-20 stolen base threat at the major league level, but his frame leads me to believe his present speed will not maintain well through his prime.
As you can tell, this scouting report has much more assumption in it than most of what I write. With a prospect like Jose Altuve, it’s needed because there’s simply not another player to compare him to. In all honesty, the easy out is to simply write Altuve off as a AAAA-utility type at the major league level due to his lack of size. However, if Jose Altuve really was his listed Baseball Reference height/weight of 6’1″, 185 lbs., we’d be discussing a surefire top-100 prospect and one of the top-5 position prospects I scouted in 2010. So while I can’t say he will ever be an impact talent, to rule out a scenario where he does not at least become a second division starter and instant fan favorite would be irresponsible of me.
Next season, Altuve’s height might very well leave him unprotected in the 2011 Rule-5 draft. Should he have some success in double-A next season, I can definitely envision a scenario where he is snatched up in the major league phase. I for one would be in line to purchase an Altuve jersey and I suspect the cult idol status he is all-but-certain to attain will not only be an on-field win, but financial win as well.
18 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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