Thursday, March 6, 2008

Under The Radar: Juan Miranda

By popular demand - in other words two emails - I was persuaded to publish my take on Juan Miranda, the 24 year-old Cuban defector and potential contributor at first base this year.

April 23, 1983
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Position: 1st Base or DH

Miranda is of a husky build - about six feet tall and 225 lbs. Though he does not have the look of an elite athlete, he has an imposing, confident presence in the batter's box. He employs a steady patience at the plate, evidenced by an approximatge .350 OBP at two levels in 2007. Miranda could afford to walk more often as he compiled 106 strikeouts to just 52 walks between Trenton and Tampa. Considering his rustiness, one could expect a rise in OBP as he learns the differences found between Cuban and American baseball.

Miranda enjoys hitting in the clutch and with runners on, enabling the lefty bat to drive in 96 runs last season. He shows an impressive ability to drive the ball to the opposite field with power which helped him hit 16 homers and 34 doubles in '07. [I saw him hit an opposite field bomb at Trenton off of then Washington Nationals top pitching prospect Collin Balester.] His natural ability to spray the ball to all fields makes Miranda more than just a power-happy prospect.

One of his issues is he can sometimes become obsessed with getting inside of the ball to take it to leftfield. In doing so he appears to wait on pitches for too long and becomes vulnerable to the strikeout - a similar bad habit to what we saw from Bobby Abreu during his struggles last season. However, Miranda has a strong, compact swing and an ability to make adjustments within an at-bat, a tool which helps him solve such habits.

[2007 Season]
Miranda started off slow in High-A Tampa, which should not be surprising considering he hadn't played competitive ball in nearly two years. He gradually progressed at Tampa and upon his promotion to the AA level continued his steady production, starting off hot in Trenton. He ran out of gas as the season wound down, but showed flashes throughout his first Yankees campaign.

Miranda then raised his game when he was sent to the Arizona Fall League, hitting .295 with five homers, 17 RBI in 22 games, another indicator that the Cuban import could soon make a major league impact. Miranda mashed righthanded pitching but came up short against lefties - in a small sample size. Though it is not yet definitive, Miranda may be best suited as the left side of a platoon - Shelley Duncan would be the perfect compliment.

[In The Field]
Defensively there is little to analyze of Miranda's game. He is a defensive liability. He can scoop some balls in the dirt and is lefthanded thrower, but these instances can't hide his poor range, propensity for booting balls and a slow first step. Though he could possibly offer similar defensive abilities as Jason Giambi, his best defensive position is the bench, as in DH.

As you would expect, Miranda is no speed demon and is the epitome of a station-to-station runner. Whether he also has the base running ineptitude of Giambi is yet to be determined.

As is probably apparent by now, it is Miranda's bat which will get him to the major leagues. He has the potential to be a special offensive weapon comparable to a less powerful Fred McGriff or Carlos Delgado type. Think a .280/.370/.520 hitter with 20-30 HR, plenty of doubles and 100+ RBI type ceiling.

He will spend at least a few months at Scranton Wilkes-Barre, though his spot on the 40-man roster is important to keep in mind. His jump to the majors will hinge upon several factors, most significantly is his production and progression at the AAA level. Injuries or ineffectiveness from the current logjam of Jason Giambi, Shelley Duncan and others also play a major role on Miranda's 2008 destination.


Eerie said...

Delgado hit .303/.430/.524 in his first Double-A stint. Miranda hit .265/.352/.480. I assume you meant that Delgado is Miranda's ceiling. But what do you think is a more realistic comparison for what we'll get out of Miranda?

Bronx Liaison said...

"He has the potential to be a... less powerful Fred McGriff or Carlos Delgado type."

Yes, the suggestion of Delgado/McGriff served as his ceiling.

Under a full season of work as a regular DH Miranda has the ability to hit 25 homers and knock in 95+ runs.

He is not going to walk as much as Delgado in his prime, but I could see him hitting .270/.360/.500 especially if exclusively used against righties.

eerie said...

Right, 25 homers and 95+ runs is his ceiling. What I'm asking though is what you think is a more realistic projection of his production.