Sunday, July 23, 2006

Christina Kahrl on Ryan Shealy

Writing behind the Baseball Prospectus pay wall:

The news move in the group is bringing up Shealy, but it might only be as a taster for teams interested in acquiring the young slugger. He wasn't having a monster season for the Sky Sox, hitting .284/.351/.568. As promising as that power looks, 20 walks in 249 PA is adequate at best, and if he's hitting .284 in one of the PCL's best hitters' parks, what should you expect from him at some other altitude? Add in that most of the damage was done against lefties--six of his 15 home runs, in less than a quarter of his PA--and that he's coming up on 27 (I'm using "young" a bit loosely today), and you've got somebody who isn't good enough to force Todd Helton out of town on his own, and who probably won't be much more than a quality platoon player for somebody else.

First, if this opinion is commonly held, you have to wonder why Shealy has attracted such attention from so many teams.

Second, no one knows what Shealy would do at the major-league level. He might take off, he might regress, he might play about as expected. His career path is hardly normal; he's been blocked at AAA, with nothing to prove, for some time. And his 2006 numbers may also be affected by the position switch they tried on him. Regardless, the Pirates, with their lack of slugging first-base prospects, need to take the chance on his upside more than other clubs need to take such chances.

If he's nothing more than a lefty masher who's average against righties, he could be paired with a left-handed first baseman, maybe a veteran, who starts against about half the righties. Such a plan should produce the needed 725 PAs of good run production needed from that position.

It does not have to be Shealy the Pirates acquire, and soon, but he fits the profile of the kind of player they should be acquiring ASAP. He fits the profile as well as any available player would fit it: no one will ever trade away a David Wright. The Pirates have to draft and develop their own obvious hitting superstars.

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