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Diamonds in Single A: Matt McBride

May 4, 2009
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This week I decided to focus on a hitter, given that last week’s column looked at a pitcher (Jeanmar Gomez). For those following league transactions, you might have noticed that Gomez got the call up to AA this week. I thought I would pick another candidate who could soon make the jump to AA, Matt McBride. McBride is on a tear for high A Kinston currently, and there has been much speculation that he could quickly find a place in AA. At nearly 24, you would expect him to be in AA already, and he likely would be if not for a torn labrum that caused a late start to his season last year.

Matt McBride was originally a second round pick for the Tribe back in 2006 from Lehigh University. He was the 75th player chosen and the 4th player the Tribe selected. The other players selected – David Huff SP, Steven Wright SP/MR, Josh Rodriguez 2B/SS, and Wes Hodges 3B – have all seen time at AA and above, and luckily for the tribe all look like they should make contributions of varying degrees for the Indians in the future.

McBride’s injury to his shoulder caused him to shift from catcher to first base and outfield. In the Hawaiian Winter League McBride began the transition by playing outfield, but this season he has mainly played first base and has quickly reestablished why many thought he was a top ten prospect for the Indians. Now for a look at the stats:


2006 A SS .355 12 4 .73 .402 .758
2007 Low A .353 35 8 .70 .432 .780
2008 R/A-/A+ .367 28 3 .95 .429 .796

I know the inclusion of doubles might seem odd, but especially for players at lower levels doubles is considered a great indicator of future power potential as a lot of those doubles will turn into home runs. It is a lot harder to take apart McBride’s data, because two of those three years he played in only about 50 games. I also did not include the data from the two games he played for Akron in 2007, though they would have improved all of his rates.

I have never been McBride’s biggest supporter - I didn’t have any issue with him - I just never knew enough about him. Looking deeper at his stats, however, I knew I had slipped not putting him in my top 25. To me, his double power shows potential 20-25 home run power. His BB/K rate is right about the same as what Grady Sizemore does every year: it is a pretty steady rate. It’s a lot higher than Peralta or a lot of the other current Indians power bats. All three of his rates – OBP, SLG, and OPS – are solid. Those aren’t all star level, but they could be someday because of the natural increase in SLG percentages through the minors.

To explain, the major issue with OPS is that it over values SLG as typically it ends up being 60% of the total. SLG typically increases through the minors as hitters grow into their power and become better hitters, and so in turn there can also be a solid jump in OPS. While this is seen more typically with kids straight out of high school, McBride could still have a jump because he came out of a smaller program with fewer resources. Now he has pro coaches, pro training regiments, and pro medical facilities, which could help growth, strength, and development.

One of the other nice things about McBride’s OBP is that it shows a level of consistency. There have been no breakout numbers, but also no major down years. He is just steadily progressing and getting on base at a consistent rate. I really feel that if not for injury McBride would have been in the 10-15 discussion for Indians prospects, especially if he can return back behind the plate. Even if he doesn’t, his bat looks strong enough to make him a likely starter in the big leagues some day.

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