During Jean Segura‘s six year minor league baseball career, he has proven to be a very productive player when healthy. After missing a substantial amount of time in 2011, the young shortstop has rebounded with a .304/.358/.413 line in 2012 including a scorching .433/.500/.533 over his last ten games prior to being promoted. As the key piece in a deal sending Zack Greinke to Los Angeles, the Milwaukee Brewers are counting on Segura’s minor league numbers translating into major league production on the middle infield. Having seen Segura during his last two starts for Double-A Huntsville of the Southern League, I’m confident the Brewers have acquired a talented — but unrefined — player. Segura is likely to need additional seasoning at the minor league level before cementing himself as an everyday player.
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Peter Gammons recently posted a tweet comparing Segura as the middle infield equivalent to Raul Mondesi, a member of the 30/30 club. This blew me away as I remember Mondesi as one of the most physically gifted baseball players of my teens and twenties, and he hit .299/.339/.511 through his age-26 season. After seeing Segura in person, I better understood the comparison, as the shortstop’s physical gifts include both strength and speed bordering on elite for the position. Had Segura been born in the United States, I’m confident he would have developed into quite the tailback at either the high school or college level.
However, Segura still has a ways to go in translating his physical gifts into in-game production , which is not uncommon for players in their early twenties. Segura has also missed valuable development time due to injury, so he has even less experience than most 22-year-olds. Lacking fluid baseball movements, Segura presents as a bull in a china shop, muscling his way through at bats and defensive plays without refinement. Premium athletes are often able to manage this at the minor league level, but big league pitching tends to reveal the warts, as personal favorite Anthony Gose can attest. Should Segura reach his maximum potential, then he’s a serviceable shortstop with a 15 home run, 30 stolen base peak. Add to this contact skills which have always been advanced for his age and the possibility exists for Segura to be an impact player through his prime.
In batting practice, Segura’s final three swings are burned into my memory, as all three left the park, including a towering shot to left-center. This prompted a pitcher shagging in the outfield to scream, “Hit the weight room!” That power potential has yet to really show up in his stat line, which is not surprising considering Segura struggles to let the ball travel and often finished his swing from one knee. In time, he should learn to sit back and trust his hands more which will allow for more lift and harder, barrel contact.
This weakness becomes brutally obvious against off-speed pitches. On at least a handful of occasions, Segura flailed wildly at breaking balls and changeups in the dirt. In the short term, pitchers should be able to exploit this, though Segura’s contact rates suggest that it shouldn’t be a long term problem.
At shortstop, Segura made the routine plays although his footwork wasn’t what I would consider clean. He also appeared a bit uncomfortable turning double plays and had some difficulty avoiding the slide of an opposing base runner. In Milwaukee, he’ll have every opportunity to stick at shortstop. However, it’s unlikely Brewers fans will mistake his defensive play for that of J.J. Hardy or Alcides Escobar anytime soon. In fact, Segura may be a player who spends his early-to-mid-20s at shortstop before sliding to second base for the remainder of his career.
From home-to-first, I was able to pull two times in the 4.0 range. This places him right on the bubble of an 80 run time from the right side. In 2012, Segura has 37 steals, but his 74% success rate leaves plenty of room for improvement. Once again, his lack of refinement may be a contributing factor to this.
In four seasons, Jean Segura is the best shortstop I’ve scouted not named Jurickson Profar. His combination of strength and speed is rare, but Segura is not without flaws. If his struggles with breaking pitches persist, then he may struggle in adjusting to the big leagues initially, but the talent is there for him to work through those issues. Hopefully the Brewers organization will practice patience with Segura should they allow him to work through shortcomings at the major league level.