Pastornicky and Simmons Battle for Starting SpotPosted: March 20, 2012
After about two weeks of spring training, the starting job at shortstop is still wide open, thanks to underwhelming play by preseason favorite Tyler Pastornicky and slightly less underwhelming performances by Andrelton Simmons.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Simmons started off a bit hotter but is just one for his last thirteen. Pastornicky has yet to do anything meaningful at the plate (although his low strikeout rate is a nice departure from Gonzalez’s swing-at-everything-that-spins approach). Together, the pair is just 12 for 73 (.164), and both candidates have truly looked unprepared for the majors at times.
As I’ve been saying, spring training statistics are about as useful as a Scott Linebrink fastball, but to me there is some cause for concern. The projected opening day starter is being bested in every relevant category by a prospect who has never had an at bat above high A ball. What’s more, Pastornicky has looked tight and uncomfortable in the field, amassing three errors already. True to the scouting reports, Simmons looks much more solid in the field. Chipper agrees:
“[Simmons] is major league-ready defensively, there’s no doubt about that. When everybody says that he’s major league-ready defensively, they’re saying it for a reason.”
To complicate matters even further, the ESPN crew commented during today’s game against the Tigers that the field management team favors Simmons while the front office is pushing for Pastornicky. Wren had this to say:
“Sometimes you see things the first two weeks and you’re saying, ‘Wow.’ Then another 10 days later, you’re going, ‘Oh OK, that’s what we expected.’”
Insightful stuff, Frank.
Simmons has also garnered a bit of attention from the press, who liken him to a young Rafael Furcal because of his great range, strong arm, and good speed and contact abilities. Of course, Furcal was the last rookie to win the starting spot at shortstop out of Braves camp, beating out the the ageless wonder Walt Weiss for the spot. Frucal went on to hit .295 and steal 40 bases that year on his way to becoming NL rookie of the year.
By all accounts, Simmons is not quite at that level (yet), but the Braves front office hopes he one day will be. He will likely spend the year at AA Mississippi and may be fast-tracked if necessary. As for Pastornicky, let’s hope his solid minor league resume is a better indicator of his future performance than the deer-in-the-headlights look he’s worn all spring.