With elite speed and a slick glove, Eric Stamets is hoping to make himself the Angels shortstop of the future, but will his bat hold up enough to make that happen?
Position: SS Highest Level: Advanced-A
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6'0" Weight: 185
Age: 22 Born: 9/25/1991
2013 Rank: #11
2013 Season Stats
Advanced-A: 571 PA, .281 AVG, .335 OBP, .375 SLG, 28 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 53 RBI, 66 SO, 16 SB, 4 CS, .315 BABIP, .321 wOBA, 90 wRC+
Contact = B+
Stamets is sometimes characterized as a slap hitter in the same way Erick Aybar is and that assessment isn’t completely inaccurate. Stamets’ main tool for reaching base is his speed and as long as he’s putting the ball in play, his legs can make him dangerous.
Power = F
It’s not there so don’t bother.
Discipline = C+
This is a hard one to peg on Stamets. Does he walk very often? No, in fact he’d be a much more dangerous player if he did. But will you see him making a lot of silly swings at pitches outside of the zone? No. So in this sense he has slightly above average plate discipline, though as the organizational philosophy shifts, you’d hope to see Stamets become a poster-child and increase his walk-rate.
Speed = A
Eric Stamets is bar-none, the fastest player in the Angels organization not named Mike Trout. He blazes down the line, makes excellent cuts around the bases and can really move, even for a middle infielder.
Arm = B+
I have yet to see one batted ball in the vicinity of shortstop that Stamets could not make a play on. He has exceptional arm strength and accuracy. It isn’t the strongest I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly well above average.
Fielding = A+
Eric Stamets is the best fielding shortstop I have ever seen. Watching him play shortstop is truly a thing of beauty and I simply cannot wait for Angels fans everywhere to see this kid in action. It reminds me of watching Bourjos play CF.
Range = A+
Even in the major leagues, you’d be hard pressed to find a shortstop with better range than Eric Stamets. In fact, overall there may be one shortstop in baseball that’s as good if not better than Stamets, and that’s Andrelton Simmons.
Performance = B
Upon being drafted, the knock ultimately on Stamets was that scouts doubted that he’d hit enough to become anything more than a utility player. Stamets has been slightly ahead of the age curve so far in his minor league career and has shown both in A-Ball and Advanced-A Ball that he does have enough of a bat to be a starter. The only drawbacks to Stamets’ game so far is that he doesn’t walk enough and that despite blazing speed, he doesn’t steal bases, similar to the aforementioned Peter Bourjos.
Projection = B
Stamets projects to be a utility infielder and pinch running specialist at worst. Even then, we’re looking at a player in the low minors and saying for sure he’ll be a major leaguer someday, so that’s pretty good. At best, Stamets projects to be a Gold Glove winner with enough bat and speed to be an above average major league player.
Grade as a Prospect = B-
Stamets is likely the best defensive shortstop in minor league baseball and possibly one the best defensive shortstops in the world right now. Not every system has that, which makes Stamets quite special. His profile as a lighter hitting middle infielder however is common. But why typecast Stamets like that when all he’s done since day one of being drafted is exceed the expectations of doubters? He’s young, fast and has a skill set that doesn’t fade. Even good hitters will slump, but defenders like Stamets don’t.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = 2016
Stamets should spend 2014 in AA where he’ll meet truly advanced pitching for the first time. Inevitably, his offensive numbers will likely decrease, but his status as a prospect shouldn’t. He isn’t a power hitter and despite Dickey Stephens being ultra friendly on pitchers, Stamets’ skill set should be minimally affected by the environment.
2013 in Review*
Even though he dropped three spots in our rankings from last year, Stamets had a very encouraging first full season of pro ball. His calling card since being drafted is his fielding ability and he proved that in a big way for the 66ers. There is little doubt that Stamets is not just the best fielding shortstop, but the best fielder overall in the Angel system. He has been slapped with the future Gold Glover label pretty frequently as his glove is already developed enough that he could be a quality defender in the majors right now.
Stamets also has the reputation as being the fastest player in the Angel farm system. That is encouraging, but Stamets still needs to work on getting the most out of his speed. For a guy as fast as he is, it is disappointing to see that he only attempted 20 stolen bases. His success rate was very good, but there is still plenty of room for growth there.
The one concern about Stamets is always going to be his bat. He has almost no power to speak of and he just isn't going to develop more than a marginal amount in that area. The California League is a hitter's haven and his ISO was still only .095.
What Stamets can do though is put the bat on the ball. While his .281 average is nothing special, he proved how good he is at making contact by striking out in just 11.6% of his plate appearances. While he only walked in 6% of plate appearances, Stamets has good control of the strike zone. If anything, his contact ability works against him as it leads to him being overly aggressive at the plate. With a more conservative approach, he could conceivably boost both his average and OBP to give himself a shot at being a leadoff type hitter rather than a 8/9-hole hitter like he currently projects.
The challenge for Stamets next season will be facing much better quality pitching in Double-A. At this level of play, Stamets will more consistently face pitchers that are capable of exploiting his aggressive approach. How Stamets adjusts to that will be telling as far as whether Stamets has what it takes to be a big league regular rather than just a defensive specialist off the bench.
Stamets will also need to do something about his platoon splits. Eric raked against left-handed pitching in 2013 with a .351/.411/.496 slash line, but he really struggled against righties to the tune of .255/.306/.332. He absolutely needs to figure out how to better handle right-handed pitching or he doesn't stand a chance at being an MLB regular. That being said, if he answers the outstanding questions well enough this year, it isn't entirely out of the question that Stamets could get a look in the majors by the end of the season should the Halos start thinking about moving Erick Aybar next offseason.
*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.