Sunday, December 14, 2014

Edge-rton: You Think You Don't Know Him

On Friday, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs did a chat with fans of minor league baseball. One of the questions asked about guys from the 2014 draft who have seen their stock improve since beginning their major league career. One statement stood out to me. "...ATL LOVES the early returns on 9th rounder Jordan Edgerton." Jordan who?

The 2014 draft may go down as the best under Frank Wren. Youngsters like Braxton Davidson, Garrett Fulenchek, Max Povse, and Luke Dykstra were a few of the most notable picks so the ninth round choice of Edgerton flew under the radar. The fact that he was a Division II hitter out of UNC-Pembroke also probably led to not much written about him. In addition, when he was chosen with the #283rd overall selection, some were left scratching their heads. The trusted Baseball America ranked him #437th going into the draft and the 16th best prospect out of North Carolina. It's worth also mentioning that Edgerton had let it be known that he was 100% going to sign if chosen in the first ten rounds so maybe the Braves factored that into the pick. Either way, if they are so happy, what exactly do the Braves see?

Edgerton is a third baseman in a system that lacks many corner infield prospects. Not particularly imposing at 6'1", Edgerton didn't hit for much power with Danville after being picked. His .110 ISO won't get him any invites to the Home Run Derby. That said, you can't overvalue a 59 game run in rookie ball. Only one player, Minnesota's Max Murphy, reached double digits in homers in the Appalachian League. Edgerton finishd tied for fifth in walks with 29, leading to a .347 OBP. And nobody was walked more intentionally for whatever reason. Kind of odd, actually, that Edgerton was giving the intentional free pass four times in a league where that only happened 24 times to 25,545 batters. Four teams, including the D-Braves, didn't walk a batter intentionally. I should add that Edgerton's splits, while limited in terms of importance, show a guy a started off very strong, but wavered late. Whether that came after an adjustment by pitchers, a longer than expected season, or anything of particular importance, Edgerton hit just .237/.315/.284 in the final 45 games of the season.

Edgerton did commit 11 errors in just 55 games (he DH'd four times), though it's difficult to say, at that level, if that has much meaning. For players who are that young, it's difficult to get a handle on defensive ratings, especially when you don't dish out money to get premium content. Every article does mention defense as an issue, though it's difficult to know if that issue is correctable or even based on anything other than a brief glance at defensive stats, which are misleading in the minor leagues.

For whatever it's worth, Edgerton's defense at UNC-Pembroke also included a lot of errors - 31 in 143 games. It also included some of the reasons why the Braves were excited by him. In those 143 games, he slashed .352/.398/.545 with 22 HR, 20 SB, and 46 walks to 38 K's. That attracted the Braves attention, even if it was against D-II opponents. Hidden in a full career look is that his numbers improved every season. In his junior year before the Braves tabbed him with their ninth round selection, Edgerton struck out nine times. In 51 games.

Without having much to base it on, my belief is that Edgerton likely has a little bit of an uppercut to his swing. It's likely not too pronounced since he doesn't strike out much, but he tends to put 2 balls in the air for every ball he puts on the ground. Might explain to some degree why he paced the APPY League with eleven sacrifice flies, though that's not exactly what I would call a skill.

Of course, we can see why the current front office loves him. He screams gritty. He is all about grinding it out. He might even be a gamer. If his power plays up, I might even be a big fan. There's something here, no doubt. It's a long way away and Edgerton, who turned 21 about a hundred days ago, is still very young and with room to mature. But if the late season struggles don't become permanent and the scouts and front office are right about him, Edgerton is a guy to keep an eye on with Rome next season.

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