While a certain other second base prospect in the organization has been getting all of the attention, Alex Yarbrough has been flying under the radar. After the season he just had in 2013, he won't be getting overlooked for long.
Position: 2B Highest Level: Advanced-A
Bats: S Throws: R Height: 5'11" Weight: 180
Age: 22 Born: 8/3/1991
2013 Rank: 9
2013 Season Stats
Advanced-A: 615 PA, .313 AVG, .341 OBP, .459 SLG, 32 2B, 10 3B, 11 HR, 80 RBI, 106 SO, 14 SB, 4 CS, .364 BABIP, .350 wOBA, 108 wRC+
Contact = B
Yarbrough came prepackaged from Ole Miss with good hand-eye coordination. Specifically, Yarbrough’s left-handed swing is shorter than you’d see from most switch hitters, which suggests he shouldn’t have a problem remaining a consistent force from both sides of the plate.
Power = C+
Yarbrough’s a bit unique as a switch hitter in that he’s one of the rare ones that has more power from the right side of the plate. Regardless, Yarbrough has above excellent gap power and average homerun power for a middle infielder.
Discipline = C-
Yarbrough proved to be a bit of a free-swinger in his first full professional season. Usually collegiate players that are drafted come with a bit more patience at the plate, but as was the case with C.J. Cron, Alex Yarbrough has more of a tendency to hit pitcher’s pitches rather than wait for his pitch to hit. He should still be a successful hitter regardless, but his prospect profile would take a big step forward if he were to incorporate more BB into his game.
Speed = C+
Yarbrough marks slightly above average in this department because of his baseball instincts. He did a good job last season at taking an extra base when the defense is on its heels. Yarbrough should steal around 10 bases per season.
Arm = B
Yarbrough doesn’t exactly have a cannon for an arm but has enough strength to muscle the ball to first base on plays up the middle with his body going the other way. He also possesses an exceptional quick transfer when turning double plays.
Fielding = B+
Alex is about as steady as they come in the infield. He’s quick on his feeds to second for double plays and has no problem fielding the hardest hit balls that many other middle infielders would muff. One thing that I particularly noticed is Yarbrough’s success when leaving his feet. Many other second baseman aren’t afraid of diving to make a stop but Alex seems to always make the grab. Just an outstanding glove.
Range = C
Yarbrough has around average range for a second baseman. He’s above average going to his glove side and average or slightly below average when ranging toward the middle.
Performance = A-
There isn’t much more anyone could ask of Yarbrough in his first full season. He skipped over A-Ball and went to the Cal League. He hit for average and was among the league leaders in batting hits, doubles and total bases. Certainly the best pure hitter on the 66ers team and definitely in the conversation for best pure hitter in the system.
Projection = B
This is where MWAH was quite far ahead of the curve last season. Most other sites pegged him as a fringe major league type of player without any exceptional tools and ranked him outside the Top 10 in the organization. We’ve been on this bandwagon for a while and it’s making us look good. Yarbrough has the look of an all-around good quality Major League second baseman. He should be able to hit at the highest level and collect plenty of extra base hits while playing above average defense. In terms of production, somewhere around Marco Scutaro and at the high end, Ben Zobrist.
Grade as a Prospect = B-
Yarbrough definitely profiles as a future major leaguer but isn’t the type of prospect to appear on many Top 100 lists given that he’s around average in his age level development and wasn’t taken in the 1st round.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = Mid-2015
The Angels definitely have some interesting future decisions on their hands at second base. Howie Kendrick is a steady second baseman that’s become a trade candidate. Taylor Lindsey is a level ahead of Yarbrough at the same age, so he should be ready a year before Yarbrough is and he has higher upside. Grant Green is also an interesting 2B option given his offensive upside. Yarbrough is the most complete player and doesn’t project to be a reserve infielder, so him or Lindsey backing one another up is likely out of the question. Chances are the Angels will end up parting ways with one or two of Yarbrough, Kendrick, Green and Lindsey. Regardless, Yabrough should be ready soon enough and would make a valuable trade chip if the Angels decide to go a different direction.
2013 in Review*
The Angels are making a habit of developing overachieving middle infield prospects. At second base, we already know about Taylor Lindsey and we already took a look at Eric Stamets and Jose Rondon at shortstop. Now we can add Alex Yarbrough to that list.
Out of college, there wasn't must question that Yarbrough had a strong contact tool, but he was a powerless slap hitter at the time. However in 2013, Yarbrough showed he could hit for some pop too. Yarbrough is no slugger, but he got more aggressive in his approach and showed that he can really drive the ball into the gaps when he attacks the ball. Better yet, he showed that his power could come from both sides of the dish with a .136 ISO as a righty and .150 as a lefty. Again, he's never going to be confused with a middle of the order bat, but the power is good enough to keep pitchers honest.
The downside though was that the aggressive approach led to Yarbrough walking roughly never. It isn't that Yarbrough has poor control of the strike zone though as he doesn't chase a lot. However, he does just swing at a lot of what is in the zone but those aren't necessarily good pitches to swing at. He still hit .313 so it isn't like it hurt him, but it very well could if he doesn't get more selective.
While the pop was nice to see from Yarbrough, there is a chance that it might be a bit of a mirage. The California League, outside of the 66ers stadium, is great for hitters which might explain his .171 ISO on the road but his more pedestrian .120 ISO at home. He will be headed to Arkansas this year, so we should find out very quickly if his pop was just a product of the environment.
Yarbrough actually probably could move faster through the system but he is pretty firmly blocked by Taylor Lindsey, and to a lesser extent Grant Green. As a result, he should probably get used to hearing his name in trade rumors. The Angels don't have many trade assets, but dealing from their surplus of second baseman is very viable path for them and Yarbrough is likely the player they deem the most expendable.
*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.