After looking at the new CBA the last couple of days, I thought it was time to bring back the speculation. No, I don’t have any inside information on who the Tigers are looking at specifically, but in keeping with throwing out some realistic names that could be had in trade scenarios, I brink you Alexi Amarista. Amarista is a 22 year old 2nd baseman that has risen up the ranks of the Angels system quickly, and saw his first bit of major league action this past summer. Being that the Angels are full of infielders at the big league level, and they have a need for left handed pitching, which the Tigers have, they are a natural fit to deal with one another.
Here is a more in depth look at Amarista.
Amarista as mentioned is currently 22 years old. He will turn 23 in April of 2012. A left handed hitter, Amarista can play several positions in the infield, much like the rest of the current Angels infield. Most of his experience is playing 2nd however, and he even has gotten some time in LF. Amarista is listed at 5’8″, however, if you have seen him, it looks more like 5’6″.
Don’t let Amarista’s size fool you though, he can play. Throughout his career in the minors, Amarista is a .300 hitter and has shown some pop that you wouldn’t expect from someone with his stature. At 20 years old he had an OPS of
.857 in the Midwest League, which isn’t favorable to hitters. He isn’t a guy that you can knock the bat out of his hands, and he will rack up his fair share of doubles and hit the occasional home run. Amarista uses a line drive stroke to all fields, and has enough speed to leg out extra base hits. He does have the ability to steal bases, however, his instincts on the base paths aren’t the best, and he falls victim to getting caught too much. That is something that he could continue to improve though.
Amarista tends to be an aggressive hitter, however, in the past he has shown the ability to draw some walks. As he has gotten to upper levels and challenged more with advanced pitching, the walk rate has dropped. Amarista has really good hand-eye coordination and has the ability to battle pitchers and extend at-bats. The good news is that he puts the ball in play, maintaining low strikeout rates throughout his career.
Defensively, Amarista, as mentioned can play multiple positions. I don’t think there is much dispute that 2nd base is his best spot in the field, and he doesn’t really fit at SS as a regular. Amarista flashes a solid, but not spectacular glove, and I would liken him to a slightly more rangy version of Placido Polanco. That’s obviously not a bad thing to be compared to Polanco, and most times Amarista puts a glove on the baseball, he is going to catch it and make an accurate throw.
I think you could make the case that Amarista has an offensive comparison to Placido Polanco as well, despite hitting from different sides of the plate. Both guys effectively make solid contact, depending on a higher batting average to get them on base. Both guys use the whole field. And both guys can hit you 5-10 homers as well. Amarista is probably the better athlete, although I don’t particularly remember Polanco at 22 years old.
Given that Amarista doesn’t walk much, I am not sure he fits in with the top of the order guy the Tigers would be looking for. If he could maintain a .330 OBP though, I am not sure that isn’t better than what the current roster could provide. I personally believe that he could fit in multiple spots in the order given his skill set, including leadoff. If you wanted to bat him 2nd, he handles the bat well enough to move runners. He also could provide a solid average and some speed at the bottom of the order, effectively becoming a 2nd leadoff type in the 8 or 9 hole.
I don’t know what the cost of acquiring Amarista would be. He is a good prospect, and a useful player, but he could be a utility player in the end. I suspect he will always have to prove himself because of his size, much like the Houston Astros‘ Jose Altuve. The Angels are looking for a left-handed starter, and a guy like Andy Oliver might be a good fit, though the Tigers might want more in that deal because of the value of pitching.
I personally would deal Oliver for Amarista, or any young 2nd base type that we have mentioned on site here.
How about you?