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.

We hoped you liked reading 2009 Prospect Duds: Dayan Viciedo by Marc Hulet!

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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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.