Generally, I’m hesitant to compare prospects to established major leaguers. There are so many subtle differences in player skill-sets that, without exhaustive research, I’m never all that comfortable with the comparisons.
Yonder Alonso = Erubiel Durazo
After watching some video of Yonder Alonso, though, (notably the embedded one below from Scouting the Sally) I can’t help but think Erubiel Durazo.
At first, you might think that comparing a highly-touted first base prospect to Erubiel Durazo is my way of saying that I’m not overly high on Alonso, but that isn’t necessarily true. Upon reaching the majors at age 25, Durazo raked, and he didn’t stop until his major league career was over seven years later.
Note Durazo’s debut 1999 and Alonso’s 2011 in Cincinnati:
Pretty similar starts, though I certainly don’t mean to imply that I’m comparing these two players based on such a small amount of performance data. As mentioned, Alonso’s swing and movements simply remind me of Durazo, and it conveniently fits the narrative that the numbers are very similar.
Physically, they are similar too. Durazo is listed at 6’3’’, 240 on Baseball-Reference. Alonso: 6’2’’, 240. Both left-handed hitters. Durazo ended up hitting .281/.381/.487 in his major league career, split between Arizona and Oakland. Alonso has posted inferior numbers so far in his career (.292/.370/.466) – and that’s in the minor leagues.
Durazo played in Mexico prior to the majors and only spent part of one season in the minors before debuting in Arizona, so we can’t really compare minor league stats. He hit .404/.489/.703 that year in Double-A and Triple-A.
In the field, Durazo provided limited defensive value at first (he was traded to Oakland and became a DH) and he wasn’t particularly fast or athletic. The scouting reports on Alonso are similar. He’s not out there for his defense or base running.
Scouting or performance
Let’s face it, Alonso’s scouting reputation far exceeds his actual performance thus far. Based on the numbers, Clay Davenport* projects Alonso as a .260/.335/.400 hitter in his prime. That isn’t bad, especially in Petco, but it isn’t really what we are expecting out of the Padres new first basemen.
*Davenport adjusts raw minor league statistics for league, age, park effects, and various other factors to get a better estimate of the player’s major league potential.
Yonder Alonso = Adrian Gonzalez
Finishing where we started, PECOTA currently lists Adrian Gonzalez as Alonso’s number one comparable player. Number two: Jeff Clement.
Interestingly enough, there might be something to the Alonso-Gonzalez comp. Though Gonzalez was always young(er) for his league, both players put up underwhelming minor league statistics (but were highly-rated amongst scouts). Gonzalez, of course, blossomed into the player we had the pleasure of watching in San Diego for five seasons.
Then again, there is probably something to the Alonso-Clement comp, too.
As you know, there’s a large degree of uncertainty in player evaluation, especially prospects. Here’s hoping Alonso turns out more like Gonzalez than Clement. But I’ll settle for Durazo.