Dissecting Alex Avila: Can He Keep This Up?

Tigers catcher Alex Avila was drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 draft and made quick work of the minor leagues by making it to the show in late 2009. Here is what Baseball America had to say about the Tigers 6th ranked prospect in 2010:

Avila can catch up to good fastballs and drive the ball to all fields, projecting as a possible .280 hitter with 15 homers in the big leagues. He has improved tremendously in a short time as a catcher, and one scout who saw him in 2009 couldn't believe Avila was the same guy he saw in college. He's agile and has solid catch-and-throw skills, and he led the Double-A Eastern League by throwing out 44 percent of basestealers last season. He has tremendous makeup and instincts after growing up around the game.

Avila's father is Tigers assistant GM Al Avila, so Alex did grow up around the game. Baseball America projected him to hit for a solid BA with power and Avila has proved them right thus far in 2011.

More on Avila after the jump:

Avila made it to the big leagues in 2009 and in 61 at bats, he hit 5 HRs, drove in 14 and hit .279-.375-.590. Last year, in a part time role, Avila hit just .228-.316-.340 with 7 HRs, 31 RBIs and 28 runs scored. His low BA did not reflect the fact that 21.5% of his balls in play were line drives,and he walked in almost 11% of his at bats, so Avila was doing some good things at the plate, but those did not appear in his triple slash line. Until this year.

This year, Avila is putting together a solid season at the plate as his triple slash line is .303-.373-.541 with 10 HRs, 45 RBIs, 28 runs scored and 3 SBs. Avila is the reason why Victor Martinez is the Tigers DH this year. 

Avila's power numbers are surprising many as he has hit 10 HRs, 3 triples and 16 doubles, counting for 29 extra base hits of his 66 total hits, and has increased his ISO from .112 in 2010 to .239 this season. He is hitting line drives in almost 20% of his balls in play, and almost 44% are in the air, so he the power appears to be legit.

Avila is second amongst all catchers in RBIs, 3rd in BA and HRs, and leads all catchers, even Brian McCann, in ISO thus far in 2011. Coming into the 2011 season, I did not rank Avila in my top 12 catcher rankings, and it would have been tough to do so after his poor 2010 season. But, Avila has proven that he deserves more than just a top 12 catcher, he is probably in the conversation for the top 5 catchers this season.

Can he keep this up? Well, looking at his BABIP of .366, one would say no. Avila strikes out in 28% of his at bats, but also walks in almost 11% of his at bats, so it is possible. Baseball America projected him to be a .280ish hitter, so maybe he can sustain the solid BA if he can cut down the strikeouts a bit. As I stated earlier, his power looks sustainable based on his balls in play data thus far.

What do Fake Teams readers think?

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