Waiting in the Wings: Jedd Gyorko

Not Pictured: George Costanza driving: "Yeah...well the Gyorko store called...and they're running out of you!" Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

Jedd Gyorko - 2B/3B - Padres - Jedd Gyorko is a classic example of body bias. Despite owning one of the sweetest swings in his class, Gyorko wasn't popped until the 59th pick of the 2010 draft, mainly due to positional and body concerns. Gyorko is built like a first baseman but has the hands for third, and has even been playing some second this year. He was recently promoted to Triple-A and many think he is on the verge of a call up as the Padres continue to remodel their infield and build for the future.

More after the jump...

Gyorko split 2010 between Short Season Eugene and Lo-A Fort Wayne after signing quickly in 2010. He took a small while to acclimate himself to pro ball, with a 22.6% strikeout rate and 7.8% walk rate in Eugene though he did hit .330/.383/.528 earning himself a promotion to Lo-A. He didn't take long to show his true colors there, trimming his strikeout percentage to 16.9% and upping his walk percentage to 10.4%. This jives with his scouting report as Gyorko shows a strong knowledge of the strike zone and the discipline to reach base at a high clip no matter what level he is on. 2011 featured another split season for Gyorko, this time starting at Hi-A Lake Elsinore and finishing at Double-A San Antonio, posting a combined .33/.400/.552 slash line over 576 at-bats. Gyorko is known more for his line drive stroke than hitting the long ball, though 2011 saw him notch 25 home runs to supplement his 47 doubles across the two levels. Before you get too excited, the vast majority of those home runs were a product of the launching pad known as the California League, where he hit 18 of his 25 home runs. After ending 2011 at Double-A, Gyorko returned for the beginning of 2012. Using his experience there from the previous year, Gyorko trimmed his K rate by just under 1% and upped his walk rate 1.6%, to 18.1% and 11.4% respectively. While the K rate is not elite, it is still quality and is complemented by a superb walk rate. Gyorko didn't set the world on fire or burn brighter than many other prospects while posting an ordinary .262/.356/.431 slash line along with six home runs and only four doubles, before his promotion to Triple-A. He's accrued less than 30 at-bats in Triple-A since the promotion, so if we were going on small samples before...that would really be pushing the envelope. It's hard to tell whether the Padres graduated Gyorko to Triple-A in an effort to test him before giving him a shot at the big leagues, or if they liked his improved approach at the plate that had yet to yield results in the traditional stats, and rewarded him thusly.

Much of the concern and criticism on Gyorko stems from his thick lower half and how well his conditioning will hold up into the future. None of that is a problem at the plate however, where Gyorko showcases plus bat speed and impressive contact ability. Gyorko's hitting mechanics are, much like his swing, steady and balanced. He does not have a stride, resulting in minimal weight transfer, which is a factor in his limited power supply. What Gyorko does better than anything else is put the barrel of the bat on the ball. He pairs that ability with a strong idea of the strike zone, allowing to make solid contact on pitches that he is looking for. Gyorko is unafraid to go the other way and is able to strike the ball with authority to right field. In an ideal situation, Gyorko's power would be average, but playing half his games in PETCO will likely result in below average power production. Instead, Gyorko's line drive/doubles approach should suit him well in his future home park, similar to future infield mate Yonder Alonso. Defense is the big question mark on Gyorko, as one would imagine given all the concern about his body. He's spent most of his minor league career at the hot corner and he showed good actions, if limited range there. He has softer hands that you might expect from a player of his build, and his average arm is more than enough to play the position. Gyorko has improved by leaps and bounds since entering pro ball, and features good footwork there as a result. Interestingly, the Padres had Gyorko spend a bunch of time at second base this Spring, though he's back to playing more third base since graduating to Triple-A. Gyorko at the keystone would be an interesting proposition as his bat would play well there, though his defense would be suspect. Speed is not an aspect of Gyorko's game, as you might imagine, with only 14 stolen bases over two years entering the 2012 season.

Gyorko figures to see time in the majors as soon as this year, and is the heir apparent to Chase Headley at third base if he isn't the long term fill-in for the recently departed Orlando Hudson at second. I wouldn't let my imagination run wild with Gyorko, but I could see him having success immediately at the major league level. He won't give you power or speed, but if you are in a deep league or need a hold over, he can provide solid average with enough doubles not to hurt your slugging. No one sees a star in Gyorko, but you don't need to be a star to be an asset, either in fantasy or in real life. He's a high probability player who should be an average every day third baseman, with a ceiling of slightly above that. If you play in shallower leagues (think 10 or 12 teams) then it's unlikely that Gyorko will mean anything to you this season, though he's a Headley-like option for next year. If you like to dabble in the deep end of fantasy, then Gyorko is a name to watch for as a mid-season callup.


Follow me on twitter: @cdgoldstein


Source Material:

Baseball America
Keith Law
Baseball Prospect Nation
Fangraphs

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