Scottsdale, Ariz. -- Nobody will ever confuse Colorado Rockies minor league middle infielder Luis Jean for a power hitter, and even though he did mash one very important and timely home run last summer playing for the Asheville Tourists, slugging ought to be the furthest thing from his mind moving forward in the organization. As we've seen three different times in the last week, in fact (here, here, and here), there are already plenty of sluggers at Jean's level, anyways.
Jean's job, rather, is to get on base—something with which he had modest success last summer in Asheville, slashing .267/.325/.320 over 89 games (303 at-bats). Just as his slugging percentage ought to betray the kind of player he is, when Jean does get on base, he tends to move. Twenty-seven stolen bases last summer round him up to 65 career swipes in 234 minor league games, and as the 21-year-old better learns pitcher tendencies and the art of base running, you'd imagine those numbers will become even more efficient with time.
I shot some footage of Jean taking batting practice at the Rockies' Scottsdale facility earlier this month, and it struck me how springy he is in the box. That's a tendency of athletic infielders lighter on their feet than, say, power hitters, but Jean certainly looks the part of a little-hit, good-field, good-run infielder that could one day profile somewhere in the high minors and/or big leagues as a utility infield depth option.
He hits a ton of ground balls, which is good, but a big leg kick and the seeming tendency to wrap the bat around his head and get long with his swing mechanics might not bode well for Jean as he climbs minor league levels (I'd guess we will find him in High-A Modesto this summer). He could stand to be more discerning with his pitch selection (he only had a 7.0% walk rate in 2015), but to his credit, he makes a lot of contact (just a 12.6% strikeout rate last summer, and that was the highest of his career).
That'll end up being how Jean helps himself at higher levels of professional baseball—getting on base by the walk and putting the ball in play at very high rates will more than help offset that parts of Jean's game that are lacking, as he'll never hit for power and likely never hit for average at the highest levels. If he can overcome the jump to the California League this summer, and see his on-base percentage rise higher than the .325 the Rockies saw in Asheville last summer, he might be a future middle infield utility option upon which to focus some of your attention. Until then, we'll see how highly the Rockies truly value speed and defense considering the high-quality, hit-first infield prospects in their organization right now.
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