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August 31, 2010 at 10:14 PM

The Book: Jose Iglesias

SS Jose Iglesias
Date: August 29, 2010
Team: Portland Sea Dogs

Line: 0 for 4, 3 strikeouts, reached on error

Swing: Iglesias possesses a smooth, fluid stroke from the right side of the plate that requires very little maintenance and is short to the point of contact. His swing is highlighted by extremely quick hands that generate excellent bat speed through the hitting zone and allow him to produce line drives when he squares the ball up. Level throughout his swing path, Iglesias doesn’t create much lift, but hits with some backspin that causes the ball to carry when he puts a charge into it. Very good at clearing out inside pitches, Iglesias shows his best power when pulling his hands in and whipping the bat head out in front of the ball to the point of contact. This makes him tough to get fastballs by on the inside corner, and allows him to take advantage of mistakes made in this area. However, his swing loses some fluidity when he tries to go the other way, as well as on offerings on the outer third of the plate. Iglesias tries to stick the head of the bat out at these pitches rather than leading with his hands to continue to hit inside the baseball and drive balls into the right-centerfield gap. Because he tends to slap at balls running away from him, most of the contact he generates to the opposite field is weak, and this makes him prone to pitches in this area. While not projecting as a player with good home run power to all fields, some work on his swing mechanics in hitting to the opposite field should enable him to hit more line drives and round into a hitter that can use the whole field to his advantage.

Approach: Iglesias is in the very early stages of developing an approach, and still coming up to speed with the advanced pitching he now sees at the professional level. This is the area in which he has the most work to do. Not overly selective, Iglesias has a very large strike zone and will chase most pitches that are close to the plate, often fishing for breaking balls sweeping across the strike zone and into the dirt. He has enough recognition to lay off fastballs down and out of the strike zone, but jumps at ones that are elevated and outside. He has yet to get a grasp on what he can and can’t handle, but this is expected for an aggressively assigned young hitter in the beginning of his professional career. Iglesias stays back before unleashing his swing, but his raw pitch recognition leads to him getting himself out and making bad choices regarding what to attack. He’s also pull-happy, and has yet to gain trust in going the other way, which is tied into the aforementioned work needed with his swing mechanics. With improvement with his count management and the natural progression that comes with getting exposed to more and more pitching, he should show positive strides in this area soon. While not having the look of a hitter who is going to be a high on-base player down the line, his hitting skills are good enough for him to make more consistent, hard contact as he improves his batting eye, works himself into good fastballs counts, and takes pitches he cannot handle regardless of whether or not they are strikes.

Take: Coming into the Red Sox system as a highly touted defensive player, Iglesias’s skills have been as advertised in this department. He has experienced some growing pains and an initial adjustment period to playing defense as a professional, leading to some early errors, but his range, hands, and arm are all above-average or better. Showing excellent fluidity and body control, Iglesias can make very tough plays look easy, and he has become much steadier when making the routine plays. While he may make some errors on tougher plays or because he gets to more balls than many of the players out there, he has the look of a shortstop who can be elite at the major league level for years to come. Losing time to a broken knuckle did set him back some at the plate this season, and he will have to make up the at-bats to continue his offensive progression. His main strength at the plate is the excellent bat speed that he generates due to his quick hands and smooth load. His compact swing does not require much attention and does not have too many moving parts, which should prevent it from easily falling out of whack. This bodes well for him evolving into a player that can produce a lot of contact at the major league level as his approach and pitch recognition continue to come up to speed. Iglesias will be pressed to hit for even average power in the big leagues, as he is slight of build and doesn’t look to have much more room to fill out, but he has the power to produce doubles and plug gaps. The ball comes off his bat nicely, especially when he pulls the ball. Developing his approach will be his biggest challenge, and whether or not he does so will determine if he going to be selective enough to produce in a major league lineup. Given his defensive strengths and the value he will add in that area, he does not have to produce like other bats in the lineup and can hit in the lower third, but he has the hitting skills to become a second place hitter on a good team. There was a lot of defensive hype surrounding Iglesias coming into this season to go along with some questions about his bat. He’s more than lived up to the reports on his defensive capabilities and, from what he has shown so far at the plate, Iglesias has the all-around talent to be known for more than just his glove. Development time tables are always tough to predict and are dependent on various factors, but Iglesias is a talent that should find himself in the major leagues within the next couple of seasons, and has the overall package to stick there for a while.