Scouting Yankees Prospect #40: Jorge Vazquez

Vazquez hit .294 in the World Baseball Classic

The New York Yankees signed first baseman Jorge Vazquez out of Mexico early in 2009 and assigned the 27-year old to Double-A Trenton. A bit old to be considered a traditional prospect, the right-handed slugger spent ten years at the Triple-A level of the Mexican League and he quickly proved himself in his first year of affiliated baseball in 2009.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jorge Vazquez
Position: First Base
DOB: March 15, 1982
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

A career .321 hitter with 151 home runs [including 33 in just 285 at-bats in 2005] in the Mexican League, he hit .329 with a team-high 13 home runs in the equivalent of a half of a season in his first year in the Yankees organization.

"He's really offered us another run-producer in the middle of that lineup, and he's got the kind of power to alter the game with one swing of the bat," Trenton manager Tony Franklin told PinstripesPlus.com over the summer.

"He represents a dangerous threat in the lineup, and he gives the hitter in front of him a few more pitches to hit."

Dangerous he was, smacking monstrous home runs with regularity in a league and a home park not normally conducive to such power numbers.

"I haven't really noticed the size of the park," Vazquez said, "because I'm not really trying to hit home runs. What I try and do is just hit the ball hard and let it go where it goes."

Coming from the Mexican League where offspeed pitches reign, Vazquez made the quick adjustment to facing predominantly fastball pitchers in the Eastern League, proving he can hit nearly any pitch.

"He's a really good hitter," Franklin added. "He can handle almost anything that you throw at him and you don't see many young hitters do that today, they're usually pretty dominant with either one pitch or another.

"George can hit breaking balls and fastballs really well, both of them."

And if there was any cause for concern that the injured wrist could possibly affect his power, Vazquez has quickly put those to rest by clubbing eleven home runs in just 30 games so far in La Liga Mexicana del Pacifico, a Mexican winter league.

Though older for a "prospect", his hitting ability has had many Yankees front office personnel sit up and take notice, and despite his brief time in the organization, he is already being considered a possibility for the big league bench for next season as a possible right-handed version of Juan Miranda.

"Yeah there's some of that going on," Yankees senior vice president Mark Newman said. "Miranda has better plate discipline but Vazquez hit for a higher average.

"They both have power. Vazquez can hit. He did it in the Mexican League consistently. He's somewhere in that mix."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2009 Trenton .329 225 15 13 56 30 0 8 45 .357 .578


Batting and Power. Vazquez is about as unique as they come in the batter's box. He has virtually no patience in his approach, walking just 142 times in 684 professional games, but yet he's consistently a .320 hitter or better. He is ultra-aggressive, he's extremely adept at using the whole field and hitting offspeed pitches and even the best fastballs, and there are few better contact hitters around. He also has a very quick bat that generates incredible torque and that gives him plus power to all fields.

Base Running and Speed. Vazquez is not a base stealer and, physically on the pudgy side, he looks like he should clog up the base paths but he's surprisingly quick for a bigger guy. He won't hurt a team with his base running.

Defense. Again he gives the physical appearance of being a designated hitter-only kind of player because he's not in the greatest shape, but he's actually quite nimble around the bag and he has great hands too. He won't ever be confused with a Gold Glover but he's got more than enough defensive ability to be a solid first baseman.

Projection. Even with him being older and possessing the kind of offensive approach where it might not even be possible to bribe him into taking a walk, Vazquez has legitimate hitting ability and plus power to all fields. He also can handle himself defensively at first base. He isn't about to replace Mark Teixeira anytime soon, but his plus hitting ability and solid defensive skills make him an excellent bench option for a team like the Yankees and he has the overall game to become a solid trading chip down the road, especially to a National League team where his pinch-hitting potential could be even more valuable.

ETA. 2010. The signing of Nick Johnson negated any slim hopes Vazquez might have had at securing a big league bench role to start the season, but it still seems likely that he could see some big league action next season in some capacity because the bat is definitely ready.

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