Jean Segura: Top Angels Prospect #3

3) Jean Segura, 3/17/1990 - SS/2B, High A

Cal League: .281/.337/.422 with 3 HR's and 18 SB's; AFL: .310/.344/.425 with 0 HR and 5 SB

Dipoto just inked Howie Kendrick to a team-friendly, four-year contract extension, and is reportedly looking to do the same with Erick Aybar. Growing hype around Jean Segura must give Dipoto a little extra leverage in those negotiations, because entering the 2012 season, the young middle infielder ranks as high as baseball's 22nd best prospect. The twenty-one year old Dominican packages a knack for contact, explosive bat speed, savvy on the basepaths, arm strength and the athleticism to be a standout-out middle infielder. He combines the ceiling of an all-star shortstop with the floor of an MLB-average second baseman. Having Segura's growing reputation in his back pocket gives Dipoto a credible reason to leave the table if extension talks with our current shortstop don't go his way.

While it's great to see Segura receiving the attention, I'm beginning to get a little worried about his stagnant secondary skills. Both his California League and AFL slash lines were overwhelmingly batting average dependent, showing little in the way of patience or pop. He recognizes pitches well and doesn't have too much trouble with breaking stuff, but "discipline" for him mostly means putting fastballs into play early in the count. Given the organization's philosophy around hitting, I don't see much reason to hope that Segura's BB totals will jump, though I doubt he ever strikes out much.

Segura's batted ball distribution tilted heavily towards groundballs, and more than 20% of his hits in both leagues were infield knocks. The speed is nice, but if the trend continues all of those grounders won't make him a star in the big leagues. He has an athletic, aggressive cut that scouts seem to love, but his swing path is flat in games and provides little loft. He swings early and often, not waiting for pitches to drive. That said, he's flashed some thunder in the past, with natural gap power to right-center and - at least in his summer with the Kernels - he occasionally turned on the ball with a vengeance. To reach his ceiling, he's going to have to do more of that, though I'm less optimistic about him learning to drive the ball consistently than I was a year ago.

And then there are the frequent injuries. His 2011 hamstrings in particular raise a red flag.

Due to Segura's abbreviated season, there are still some questions about Segura's ability to stick at shortstop. I asked 66er's announcer Sam Farber, who's now seen him on the field there as much as anybody, and he responded "[I] can't imagine why [Segura] wasn't considered a shortstop from the beginning"..."he's a phenomenal defensive talent"..."[having] the perfect reflexes for the position." Here's a little proof on that count.

If the Angels re-sign Aybar, now would be the time to sell high on the redundant Segura. Packaging him with Trumbo could return some very good young pitching from the Rays. Packaging him with another player and sending them to Arizona might just get us Tyler Skaggs back, which would be a huge boon to the Angels' post-Santana, post-Haren rotation. Or they can hold on to Segura and mold him into their future "supersub," the role that Mike Scioscia perfected and employed with so much success over the past decade.

Quick-twitch athleticism should allow Segura to contribute with the glove and on the bases from the very start, and that high floor more than anything else makes him valuable. I suspect he will have a career arc similar to Aybar's, with annual contributions swinging wildly from 1-5 WAR due to fluctuations in batting average. Like Aybar, he should be quite valuable, but the lack of secondary skills means he may never attain the consistency necessary to be a star.

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