Sean Coyle And the Unfair Dustin Pedroia Comps

Boston Red Sox minor league second baseman Sean Coyle is a solid minor league prospect which is actually pretty rare for a player of his stature. In fact, in three years spent Scouting the Sally, only a handful of prospects have been worthy of more than a cursory look (Jose Altuve – HOU, Leury Garcia – TEX, Wilfredo Tovar – NYM) which speaks volumes about Coyle as a baseball player. However, as kind as it may seem on the surface to compare the best second baseman in the Red Sox system to the best second baseman in baseball – organization mate Dustin Pedroia – it’s pretty unfair to both players.

Video after the jump

At first glance, the initial reaction of a contact I spoke to about Coyle was, “the Red Sox paid 1.3 million? Really?” But after seeing a number of games his skill set grew on the scout to the point where he acknowledged Coyle’s ceiling as a regular at the big league level. In witnessing similar, a few aspects of Coyle’s all-around game stuck out and deserve mention.

In batting practice, Coyle arguably displayed the most power of any player on the roster (including power hitting prospect Brandon Jacobs). This was also seconded by a scout who was shocked at Coyle’s ability to drive the baseball. When scouting Coyle, he didn’t barrel any balls of note in game action, but I can certainly second his uncanny batting practice power as he belted numerous line drives over the left-centerfield wall onto the patio beyond the fence.

Looking back at his 2011 numbers, Coyle’s strikeout percentage stands out considering his ability to control the strike zone. Coyle rarely swung at balls outside the zone and displayed a short, quick stroke. However, he fouled a number of balls straight back – especially pitches at the letters – and swung-and-missed too often. While statistics at the lower levels rarely tell the story of a prospect, Coyle’s combination of a high walk rate, surprising pop for his size and slightly concerning strikeout totals frame his game quite well.

On defense, Coyle turned an excellent double play behind a lightning quick transfer and release while maintaining his arm strength. On routine plays, he showed soft hands and fluid movements, but his range left little doubt as to why he was moved across the diamond from shortstop after being drafted. Additionally, his throws were erratic due to what I perceived as an inconsistent release point. On one play he fielded a ball to his left, turned and fired a throw at the first baseman’s shoe tops nearly causing an error. When a simple flip is in order, a throw like the one described tends to stick out as an awkward moment and this one certainly did.

With 20 stolen bases in 26 attempts, Coyle has above average speed, but his lower half thickness indicates room for growth. This is likely to slow him down at full maturity leaving him an average runner. However, Coyle should be able to maximize the speed he does have utilizing his high baseball IQ and maintains the potential for double-digit steals at the big league level.

Like any other low level prospect, Coyle has strengths and weaknesses which need to be ironed out as he continues to advance levels and develop as a prospect. And while it’s difficult to visualize Coyle having a great deal of projection left based on his size, he’s the baseball equivalent of a “gym rat” which leaves me confident in his ability to maximize the tools he does have.

Coyle’s prospect status going forward depends on how he is framed in prospect circles. If judged fairly, he’s a solid second base prospect with a solid, but unspectacular all-around game who projects to provide return on on the organization’s investment. In the South Atlantic league, that’s about all an organization can hope for.

Throw out a Dustin Pedroia comp and Coyle is destined to fall short of those phenomenally lofty expectations. Red Sox Sean Coyle is the epitome of why prospect writers avoid comps like the plague and find it an exercise in futility. Quite often, they wind up doing more harm than good when framing the conversation about a prospect.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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Nick V
Guest
Nick V

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think it’s ok to compare a guy to another player even if he’s unlikely to reach that level, especially when it’s coming from a scout (i.e. what “type” of player is this guy?). Now, it’s lazy to look at height, weight, position, and team affiliation to make a ML comp (and that’s what is likely happening here, and previously with Jed Lowrie), but it could be that they’re similar players/prospects even if Coyle’s ceiling is lower than an 8 WAR season…

Good piece, a lot of people are really high on this guy, long term…

JimNYC
Guest
JimNYC

“Rich Garces is a lot like Willie Keeler, in that they both played baseball.”

Also, Cano > Pedroia. I’ve watched enough Yankee games to know that Pedroia’s defense is nowhere near as much better than Cano’s as UZR claims.

EarlSweatshirt
Guest
EarlSweatshirt

Ah yes, watching Yankee games gives you a great idea of how good Pedroia’s defense is. Those 19 games a year, coupled with personal bias and the almight eye test, is a much better way to evaluate defense.

CampBrice
Guest
CampBrice

Wow, I mean – just wow. Most agree that advanced fielding metrics are touchy at best over small sample sizes. But here we have 6096 innings of work for Pedroia and over those innings he has accumulated 41.5 UZR and 27.6 RngR. Cano has 9070 innings to work with and boasts -39.9 UZR and a -38.7 RngR.

Going over to BR, you can find that in Pedroia’s 6096 innings he has 46 Rtot (Fielding Runs Saved Above Average) while Cano has managed 32 in 9070.

I don’t care how well you like or dislike advanced fielding metrics but that is just plain opposite spectrum when comparing the two

doctorogres
Guest

And Jeter is a great shortstop– he just got a Gold Glove in 2010!

Seriously though, there’s just no comparison in terms of range or glove work. The whole point of defensive metrics is that your eyes deceive you, mainly because a ball that one guy has to dive to get to looks routine when hit to a better defender.

No knock against Cano, though, he’s certainly a great ballplayer. Just at other things than fielding.

Caveman Jones
Guest
Caveman Jones

That’s funny. So you’re saying Pedroia’s better defense isn’t enough to bridge the gap between their offense output? Pedroia owns a career .368 wOBA (122 wRC+) and Cano has a career .359 wOBA (119 wRC+). Pedroia slightly ahead, but the difference is pretty small. Once you factory in defense there is no doubt Pedroia is the better player. I understand Cano might not be as bad as UZR rates him, but Pedroia is an absolute vacuum cleaner. Your bias is showing.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I’ve watched enough Yankees games to know that Cano drowns children and puppies in his bathtub, so there!

Yirmiyahu
Member

Pedroia is such a freakish little man, he shouldn’t be used as a comp for anyone.

B N
Guest
B N

Muggsy Bogues?

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