Friday, December 29, 2006

Prospect Profile: Marcos Vechionacci (#16)

Age: 20 (just turned)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 170 lbs
Drafted: Signed out of Venezuela in 2002
Position: 3rd base (With experience at 2nd and SS)
Hits: Switch
Throws: Right

Tools: Vechionacci is a legit 6-tool player. He has a ton of plate discipline and speed, and the Yankees project power to develop out of his swing. His ability to hit for average is questionable, as he has had some low batting averages in recent years, but many scouts believe that this is just a result of Nacci playing at an age far below his league. His real tools though fall on the other side of the ball. Vechionacci used to be a catcher, but was quickly converted to the infield. He tried shortstop and 2nd base, but eventually settled in at 3rd base. His defensive ability at 3rd base is nearly unrivaled, impressing even Joe Torre in spring training last season. He has Rolen/Chavez potential there.

Performance: Vechinacci has had mixed results in his three season minor league career. He was excellent as a 17 year old in 2004, hitting .319/.387/.454 between Staten Island and the Gulf Coast league (which a brief appearance in Tampa). He did not hit well in Charleston the following year, but displayed ISO and IsoOBP numbers are were very encouraging. Despite the low batting averages by Vechinacci, the Yankees were forced to rush him to Tampa in 2006, mostly because of the incredible amount of infield talent in Charleston. Along with a few other young Latino players, Nacci flopped. He was sent back to Charleston, where he improved upon his already decent ISO and IsoOBP numbers while maintaining a low batting average. He finished 2006 with a .255/.352/.386 line. His defense improved further.

Outlook: While a long way off, the results are encouraging for a prospect like Nacci. 20 may sound old, but remember that most college prospects are 22 or 23 by the time they high High A ball. Marcos will be given a second shot at Tampa in 2007, where he will have a chance to make a difference on a very good team. He has the tools, talent, and track record to make a major break out next season. Raw power and plate discipline are incredibly important for a toolsy prospect like Vechionacci. The Yankees settled him in at 3rd not because it was where he would be the most valued defender (he was excellent at short and 2nd as well), but because they believe he has the bat to hold down the offense-centered position.

Grades: Ceiling A, Health B, Comparison: Eric Chavez without the lefty problems.