Most baseball players are concerned about watching their weight.
In the case of 19-year-old shortstop Jose Vinicio, perhaps he should go on a high-calorie diet.
Vinicio checks in at 5-11 and 160 pounds (up 10 from last season). But his minimal size belies what could be an extraordinary talent. Otherwise, Boston would not have signed him to a $1.95 million bonus in 2010 -– which made him the highest-paid international amateur player in franchise history.
Vinicio is a switch-hitter who’s coming off a second year with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. In his first 52 games this season with Greenville of the SAL, he’s hitting .290 replete with 25 RBI and only 43 strikeouts in 193 at-bats. What’s noteworthy is that he raised his average 38 points from .253 in 2010 to .291 last season.
“From what I’ve seen of him, he has plus bat speed when he bats-left handed,” said an American League scout. “He gets the head of the bat out in front which produces very good backspin. He’s also shown an ability to get around on plus fastballs.”
But Vinicio has shown some shortcomings when he bats right-handed. For example, he has a long swing and drags his bat through the hitting zone.
“He’s weaker when he bats right-handed,” said the scout. “It would help if he was quicker to the ball.” As a result, Vinicio projects to have below-average power. But he does project to have the tools to develop into a solid hitter for average. The flip side of the proverbial coin has been his defense.
In his first two GCL seasons, he committed a total of 52 errors in 93 games.
“As much as anything, he rushes himself on routine plays and gets himself in a position where he’s off-balance when he’s throwing,” said the scout. “When he doesn’t set his feet, it leads to throwing errors.
“I’ve also seen him drop his arm down more than he should and basically throw sidearm. When he does that, the ball tends to sail. If he can improve his throws, it would be a big help because he moves well to both sides and covers a lot of ground. He has a quick, first step and reacts quickly to balls hit virtually anywhere in his area.”
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