2009 Prospect Duds: Dayan Viciedo

It’s not uncommon for prospects to receive more hype than they are worth, and Dayan Viciedo was one of those players in 2009. The Cuban defector came into the 2009 season as the No. 2 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system, according to Baseball America. He was also ranked by Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus as the No. 4 overall prospect in the system.

In the 2009 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America stated, “Viciedo has the power to hit 40-plus homers in a season, thanks to a quick swing that’s triggered by strong wrists… He’s an aggressive hitter who will chase bad pitches… Viciedo has a high ceiling but brings a bigger risk than the more experienced and athletic [Alexei] Ramirez.”

Knowing little about Viciedo – aside from the circulating scouting reports – I was cautious with my assessment of him last winter by stating, “Only 20, Dayan Viciedo will not step right in to the Major League roster like fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez did last season. The third baseman will likely begin his career in High-A ball and could move up to Double-A around mid-season if the hype surrounding him is somewhat justified. He has plus-power potential, but there are concerns about his conditioning and drive.”

Viciedo earned a spot on the double-A squad in 2009 and hit .280/.317/.391 with 12 homers in 504 at-bats. His .111 ISO was a far cry from the projected 40-homer power. As well, his walk rate of 4.4 BB% left something to be desired. His strikeout rate was reasonable at 17.7 K%, especially if he does develop at least 20+ homer power.

Viciedo’s .692 OPS versus right-handed pitchers is cause for concern, as are the scouting reports that focused more and more on his lack of conditioning, which no doubt hindered him at the plate, as well as in the field. He showed worse range than Oakland’s Brett Wallace, widely considered to be a first baseman playing third base (especially based on his range). Unfortunately for Viciedo, he has yet to display enough power to be an asset at first base, and he lacks the mobility for even left field. The Cuban also performed poorly in a small sample size as the designated hitter in double-A, which could be a result of his focus issues.

It’s a good thing that Viciedo is just 20 years old. He has a lot of work to do – beginning off the field this winter. It is imperative that the Cuba native get into better shape, as well as an improved mindset, for the 2010 season. The sky remains the limit for Viciedo, but his takeoff was more than a little bumpy.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


20 Responses to “2009 Prospect Duds: Dayan Viciedo”

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  1. JJ says:

    I’m not too displeased with Viciedo’s showing this year. My expectations weren’t all that high after watching Viciedo a few times in spring training—I just hoped he would improve as the season went on. And, in 166 post-All Star at-bats, he did have a .814 OPS. I’ll have a lot higher expectations next year—I’d have to assume he’ll start off as an AA repeat and, if he does well, move up to AAA at some point.

    I don’t think his future is at 3B, either. If all goes well, maybe Viciedo will be ready to step in at 1B for Paul Konerko when his contract is up after 2010.

    If we’re talking mental factors, too, there has to be something to be said for a 20-year-old coming over to a completely different culture and language. That can’t be easy to adjust to for anybody, let alone somebody that young.

    I’m guessing a low walk rate is something that’ll plague Viciedo—and if he’s ever to take off as a 40 HR guy, that’ll have to improve.

    I think it’s too early to make sweeping judgments on Viciedo. There’s still a long way to go before I’ll write him off as a “dud” in my book.

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  2. scott says:

    First season in the majors at 20 years old…I think I might be willing to give a “mulligan” on this one, given, well….he’s 20.

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    • Tony says:

      Snap neck judgement: Internet’s gift to the world.

      I agree. The kid went from living in a country where living in poverty is the upper class, to a country where things a bit different. Had to learn a new language, culture, lifestyle not too mention learning new pitchers.

      I mean come’on. Maybe is wasn’t a great year, but why not just don’t judge it at all?

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  3. his work ethic and desire were also questioned. i say, let him spend a winter with ozzie and joey cora…

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  4. Kurt says:

    Marc, your whole article contradicted itself with the inclusion of this quote: “Only 20, Dayan Viciedo will not step right in to the Major League roster like fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez did last season. The third baseman will likely begin his career in High-A ball and could move up to Double-A around mid-season if the hype surrounding him is somewhat justified. He has plus-power potential, but there are concerns about his conditioning and drive.”

    HE’S ONLY 20.

    To reiterate what Scott and JJ said, with his age and ceiling, it’s really hard to write him off yet. You’ve got to give a learning curve to any Latin prospect. Viciedo hasn’t even been in the country a full year yet. I don’t get why people expected so much of him in his first season of pro baseball.

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  5. scenario says:

    A 20 year old hits .280 in AA and he’s a prospect dud. Brilliant.

    BTW in the second half of the season… .313/.350/.464/.814

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    • Keith says:

      I’d also add that Birmingham isn’t a particularly good place to hit. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the league average OPS neutralized for Birmingham was right around .725.

      The defensive concerns are pretty legit, unfortunately — he’s going to have to hit like a 1B/DH to be a valuable player.

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  6. The Fonz says:

    Heck, work him out at right or left field right now…you won’t regret keeping him away from the infield.

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  7. Anthony JP says:

    I don’t agree with the “dud” statement either, because I think it’s way too early to be writing him off. But I think the point he’s trying get across is that perhaps he was overhyped a bit. Though he still is very young and has a long way to go, almost all assments made off of his first season should be null and void.

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    • Nick says:

      “The sky remains the limit for Viciedo, but his takeoff was more than a little bumpy. ”

      And why is it that because he sucked, any assessment is null and void, but if he raked, you’d be penciling him in as the next Miggy (which you probably should)?

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  8. Nick says:

    “A 20 year old hits .280 in AA and he’s a prospect dud. Brilliant.

    BTW in the second half of the season… .313/.350/.464/.814″

    Yes I would very encouraged by that soft, BABIP inflated yet still mediocre OPS. Cool batting average though.

    The fact that they started him AA told you they thought he was advanced, and clearly he wasn’t, which is another reason he should be labeled a dud.

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  9. Marc says:

    I don’t see the contradiction… the quoted part is from pre-2009. The rest of the artcile was just written.

    Yes, he’s young but the CWS organization pumped the youngster up and even talked about him (at least the media did) making the team out of the spring… so for him to play less-than-stellar (especially in power, which was supposed to be a strength) than, yes, was a dud. The dud is based on expectation… If he had come in ranked 23rd on the White Sox list, then no he would not have been a dud in 2009. But it was a dud year for a No. 2 prospect.

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  10. Tom says:

    But he’s playing at a high level at a very young age. Maybe it’s your expectations that were too high. A lot of prospects are rated high due to their age.

    The kid moved from an entirely different culture at 19 years old, away from everything he’s ever known. Cuban players are not like your typical Latin players as they’re cut off from their families and lives back home as soon as they leave. I would like to see you do this let alone play baseball at a high level.

    All things considered, he showed a lot of improvement in the second half. I expect that to continue next year.

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  11. ballfan77 says:

    People keep saying he’s 20, but he’s from Cuba a place notorious for producing players who lie about their age. I’ll bet he’s closer to 23 then 20 if he’s a typical Cuban player.

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  12. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Anyone here know anything about Phillie prospect Domingo Santana? I’ve read that at 16, he is 6’5″ 200 lbs. and hit 288 .388 .508 in 139 PAs in the GCL this year. Is this kid really 16? If so, is he a monster in the making?

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  13. Marc: Count me as one of the guys who got sucked into drafting this guy in my dynasty league. I was hoping he was Alexei Ramirez all over again. Nice analysis. I’m linking to it from my blog today: http://www.mlbfantasyprospects.com/2009/09/touch-em-all-statistics-strategies-and-one-major-disappointment.html

    ballfan77: I’ve been wondering the same thing. But even if he’s 23, he still has time to develop.

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  14. ebaydesk2010 says:

    Download eBay Desktop, desktop application
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  15. FantasyGuru says:

    Wow, this guy is the worst player ever. I don’t even consider this douche an athlete. Can’t play defense or hit… how does such a failure get to play a professional sport?

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  16. PG says:

    I’m assuming you’ve been watching tonight’s game?

    I watch every Sox game, and this has been his worst one by far. He’s a good hitter. He has power to all fields, and has tremendous bat speed. He’s 21 years old. Most 21 year olds are in college.

    I’m not really sure why I’m even acknowledging your post, though. It’s beyond stupid.

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