Tommy La Stella Scouting Report (2014)
The Braves second base situation is a mess. Dan Uggla has been even worse than his horrendous 2013. Tyler Pastornicky has been marginally better — marginally being the operative word. Cue Tommy La Stella. After an injury shortened season in Double-A in which he produced a .343/.422/.473 triple slash line, he returned for the Arizona Fall League posted a high OBP. he entered 2014 as a dark horse for the second base job, but was assigned to the Gwinnett Braves. With nowhere else to turn, the Braves have recalled La Stella and his .293/.384/.359 Triple-A line. Is the 25-year old second baseman the present and future of the keystone in Atlanta?
Listed at 5-feet-11, 185 pounds, Tommy La Stella appears closer to 200 in uniform. Stocky and muscular, he has no future projection and is a fringe average athlete at present. However, the tools he does have play up due to a high baseball IQ and willingness to out work other players.
At the plate, La Stella provides a strong bat-to-ball approach and patient eye. In batting practice, he flashed surprising power, dropping the bat head on inside pitches, resulting in multiple balls out of the park to right field. One can’t help but appreciate the way the left-handed hitter keeps his hands inside the baseball. Doing this allows for a short swing path and consistency.
Unfortunately, any semblance of power dissipated against live pitching as he rarely swung at a hitter’s pitch. Over three games, Tommy La Stella was consistently behind in the count and was only able to square a couple of pitches for line drive singles. Additionally, he has a tendency to roll over on pitches for 4-3 ground outs. Maybe the looks at Tommy La Stella were during a bad run and it can be shrugged off, but La Stella growing into any power whatsoever means he’ll need to identify pitches to drive and drive them. With players like La Stella, this happens when their skills are much better than an opponent. At the MLB level, the second baseman won’t be in many of those situations.
In full season baseball, Tommy La Stella has hit between five and nine home runs each season. In 2014, he was on pace for three at the time of his call up. With just six doubles and a triple, more advanced pitching has caused whatever power he did have to dry up. This is a concern because he’ll need enough pop at the Major League level to keep opposing outfielders honest. If they are able to play shallow and pinch the gaps, it will be difficult for the second baseman to find holes to punch balls through. Nearing his prime, it’s unlikely he’ll ever produce more than five-to-eight home runs at the Major League level, if that.
On defense, Tommy La Stella is steady, but unspectacular. An average defender with average arm strengh. he’ll make the plays in front of him, but turning double plays and ranging for balls may prove difficult. In game action, he dove for a ball to his right and completed a beautiful 4-3 play to the untrained eye. However, it was a step-and-a-dive where a second baseman with better range would have made it a routine play. Like his offensive game, Tommy La Stella provides little style, but enough substance to stick.
With one stolen base in two attempts, La Stella isn’t a burner. An average runner to a tick above, he’ll steal 6-10 bases on smarts alone. He has enough speed for the two-hole, but hitting him lead off would be a stretch given his overall lack of straight line speed.
Overall, Tommy La Stella is a quality second base prospect and an upgrade of what’s currently in house. This may not leave him the long term answer at the position, but it’s enough for now. With the Braves in first place, every win counts.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Second Division Second Baseman Hitting Ability 55 55 Power 20 25 Speed 50 50 Fielding Ability 50 50 Arm 50 50
Owning Tommy La Stella
For deep dynasty league fantasy owners, La Stella is an asset. In more shallow leagues, he’s a bit over hyped right now as a player with little-to-no power projection or speed.
28 May 2014 / Mike Newman /
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