Pastornicky Primed for Playing Time in Atlanta

With each passing day, it becomes more likely prospect Tyler Pastornicky will open the 2012 season as the starting shortstop for one the National League’s best teams. As the Atlanta Braves continue their careful transition from present-to-future, providing a defensive anchor at shortstop will be key as the organization’s strength is in its young pitching.

However, for as good as Tyler Pastornicky was in 2011 across the double-A and triple-A levels, his success as a big leaguer is far from a sure thing. And this is what makes a scouting report on Pastornicky difficult to write. Was he young for the level of competition? Yes. Were his offensive numbers strong? Certainly, but Pastornicky does not scout as well as his age and overall offensive numbers would indicate. This is why it’s important to be blunt in stating I like the young shortstop more than most, but can already envision this piece being perceived as overly negative when compared to the notoriety Pastornicky has gained this off-season as a potential shortstop of the future for the Braves.

Video after the jump

When reflecting on Tyler Pastornicky, the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind as a fitting description. Quite often, this type of skill set leads to a long career in the major leagues, but not necessarily as a starter which is the sentiment amongst contacts in the industry. However, I saw a shortstop who projects as a capable second division starter, but not a player good enough to truly stake claim to the title, “shortstop of the future” for the Braves, or any organization for that matter.

In game action, Pastornicky showed a strong aptitude for contact and the ability to drive mistakes. The compact right-handed hitter appears to have a strong understanding of his strengths and plays to them by utilizing a short, level swing plane. By keeping his hands inside the baseball quite well, Pastornicky is capable of using the entire field, spraying hard ground balls and line drives consistently in the dozen or so at bats witnessed over the course of the 2011 season. Mechanically, Pastornicky would benefit from quieting the extra wiggle in his pre-swing load and timing mechanism. As a sign of growth, recorded at bats from later in the 2011 season did indicate improvement in that area.

However, Pastornicky appeared to cheat a bit against better velocity which major league pitching is better equipped to exploit than anything he faced at the double-A and triple-A levels. Having played the season at 21, Pastornicky has plenty of time to tweak and develop his approach, but it’s something worth monitoring. Additionally, he did hit a long home run to left-centerfield off of a Kenley Jansen hanging slider displaying the ability to identify and sit back on mistake pitches at times. Should added consistency come with age, then Pastornicky could push double-digit home run totals annually – especially if his he becomes more selective early in the count and learns how to identify pitches to drive.

On defense, Pastornicky showed the ability to consistently handle routine plays when scouting him at the double-A level. His range and arm strength were more on the average side so utilizing proper angles on the infield to cut off ground balls will be important to his defensive development. For me, the trademark of a shortstop at the minor league level who projects well on defense is the ability to make plays deep in the 5/6 hole and Pastornicky was not tested in that way. However, I have my doubts as to whether he has that ability based on the sum of the defensive pieces I was able to scout. One thing working in his favor to counter my argument is the fact I pulled a 4.0-4.05 home-to-first time from video which rates in the neighborhood of a 70 on the 20/80 scale.

Having also scouted Pastornicky early into his triple-A career, I perceived a general lack of confidence in working with new infield partners. On a few “tweener” ground balls, Pastornicky pulled up a bit hesitant instead of projecting as the leader on defense a shortstop needs to be. It’s not really a big deal considering his age and the overall dynamics of integrating into a new team, but worth mentioning as most other true shortstop prospects I’ve scouted do project an aura of confidence as if they own the playing field, but their other teammates are simply renting a piece.

In struggling to find a strong comp, I keep coming back to Pastornicky scouting similarly to Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart with a bit less pop and better speed. However, Cozart was 23 in double-A in 2009 when Pastornicky pushed through the same league at 21 which points to the potential for a higher ceiling in the end. With a 4.2 WAR Fans projection for Cozart though the combination of solid, but unspectacular offensive numbers and above average defense, the formula for Pastornicky to replicate and make doubters look silly is laid out in plain sight.





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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cable fixer
10 years ago

O/U 2.2 WAR (the alcides escobar 2011 season)?

Dekker
10 years ago
Reply to  cable fixer

Definitely under. Always take the guy with a surefire skill instead of the “jack of all trades master of none”. I honestly find the decision of a contending team to have their starting shortstop to go with a 22 year old Pastornicky baffling.

Anon21
10 years ago
Reply to  Dekker

Well, they carried Alex Gonzalez all of last year, and he was barely above replacement level. Unless Pastornicky has a truly abysmal, sub-replacement season, the team is probably strong enough to carry him, too.

Nik
10 years ago
Reply to  Dekker

And just maybe if they had a SS say like Yunel Escobar, they’d be playing in October.

Anon21
10 years ago
Reply to  Dekker

Or maybe Escobar would have caught the swine flu over the offseason and killed half the team. What’s the point of speculating? It was a playoff-caliber team that ran into some bad luck, and it’ll be a playoff-caliber team next year, with Pastornicky starting. If Frank had a big pile of money lying around like Ruben does, I’m sure he’d love to go out and sign a good shortstop, but mid-market teams make do with what they’ve got. The Braves are making do just fine.

TK
10 years ago
Reply to  Dekker

It would be fitting that Yunel killed half the team as he was most definitely a cancer

chiefglockandhummer
10 years ago
Reply to  cable fixer

i would put the o/u around 1.8, which isn’t that different, but isn’t escobar a terrible comparison since he’s all glove no hit?

Mario Mendozamember
10 years ago

Just today, Razzball makes the point that AE is a good comp: http://razzball.com/tyler-pastornicky-2012-fantasy-outlook/

cable fixer
10 years ago

i think it’s a decent comp.

escobar had a .370 wOBA in his last full AA season as a 22 year old. pastornicky had a .350 wOBA in his last AA season as a 22 year old.

pastornicky did, however, hit AAA pitching a bit better than escobar and, of course, escobar has been all-glove since arriving to the show.

split the difference: o/u 2 WAR? am i still too high?