Our final installment of Evaluating the Talent looks at the one and only Eric Young, Jr. Is there a more complicated member of the Rockies’ roster right now? Well, probably. But EYJ could easily compete for the top spot.
EY Senior was one of the most beloved members of early Rockies teams. He had speed, smarts, and solid defense. Most importantly, he was a second baseman and lead-off hitter from the get-go and nobody ever questioned that.
As for the younger EY, what he can actually do is perhaps the biggest question about him. The Rockies seem to think he’s an outfielder, though I’ve yet to see him do anything big-league worthy in the outfield. He’s too small and his arm isn’t strong enough. I’d really prefer to see him back in the middle infield where he started out. He’s never going to be a defensive superstar, but at least at second he doesn’t have as much ground to cover.
Perhaps the question we should be answering is whether EY brings enough offense to make it worth putting up with his defense. The jury is still out on that one. He should be a great lead-off hitter like his dad, since they are built the exact same way, but he’s still working on that it seems. In 77 games in 2011, he hit .247 and scored 34 runs. He stole 27 bases, which is definitely solid, but he needs to get on base more for it to make a real difference. He also needs to be a better pinch-hitter. He’s never going to be an everyday guy, so if he wants a consistent spot on the bench he needs to make it worth our while to keep him there. A .240 average and .280 slugging aren’t going to cut it.
EY will have to work his tail off in camp this year to make the team. He has plus speed, but he’s lacking in the other four tools, and I fear that he really is just a career minor leaguer. I hope that if that’s not the case, he’s able to prove himself to Jim Tracy and the front office, so they can give him another chance.