2016 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Profile: Alex Bregman
The Houston Astros had a huge image to overcome in the 2015 draft. In 2014, they drafted Brady Aiken first overall and failed to sign him. Something came up during his physical and they pulled their offer off the table. Ironically, he ended up having Tommy John surgery during the winter of 2015. As a result of the failed signing, Astros fans were excited when they had the second and fifth overall selections in the 2015 draft.
Watching the Aiken selection go south and the Mark Appel selection go south prompted the Astros to rely on position players. They decided to select college shortstop Alex Bregman second overall and high school outfielder Kyle Tucker fifth overall. In particular, the Bregman selection was a departure from what they had done previously.
There were arguably better picks to be made. There always are when you are picking in the draft. The Astros wanted a safe selection after their recent struggles and you could not get any safer than Bregman. The downside is that he is what we would call a low ceiling, high floor guy. He profiles as someone that will almost certainly make it to the big leagues, but he may not have superstar potential.
That being said, the player he is most often compared to is Dustin Pedroia. If he produces on that level, the Astros are going to be ecstatic. Pedroia began as a shortstop in college and was similarly knocked for his size. A move to second base ended up freeing up Pedroia to capitalize on the athleticism he did possess. Bregman may not require the move for the same reasons, but with Carlos Correa entrenched at shortstop, his best path to the big leagues may be as a second baseman or third baseman.
It is difficult to gauge where prospects should be ranked from the most recent draft. They don’t always register immediately. MLB.com is usually the first to release its rankings and they have Bregman ranked 21st overall and ninth among shortstops. The shortstop ranking is probably the most interesting since a shortstop was taken before him and after him in the draft. Both Brendan Rodgers and Dansby Swanson were ranked in front of him. The pundits at MLB.com praise his instincts and say that will make his athleticism play up from where it otherwise would. For them, the other two shortstops from the 2015 draft have him beat in that department.
Baseball Prospectus doesn’t feel as good about Bregman. They have him ranked 39th overall and 11th among shortstops. However, they praise the same things as MLB.com. The phrase they used is that he is one of the guys that “gets it” on the field. When you add it all up, you get a guy that looks like a gamer and someone that could rise through the system fairly quickly.
Before anyone goes horribly nuts, the Astros advanced-A affiliate is the best hitter’s environment in professional baseball. Paul Bear Bryant famously said that potential meant “you ain’t done nothing yet.” It’s nice to talk about hitting ability, speed, power, and all that jazz, but until you see it you are kind of skeptical. We didn’t necessarily see a lot of power last season, but we did see some speed. Next year he should be moving on to AA Corpus Christi and we will see if the power and speed holds.
If this had happened a year ago this would have been really interesting. The Astros were coming off a 70-win season and were more willing to bring prospects along. Now, they are a playoff contender and can afford to wait for prospects to come along. Plus, he has Correa in front of him at shortstop, Jose Altuve in front of him at second base, and Colin Moran in front of him in AAA at third base.
That being said, he looks like a guy that can hit .300 with around 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases. The most impressive part of him is his ability to make contact on a consistent basis. His low strikeout totals will help him keep that batting average up even at sea level. Fortunately, he will have plenty of time to prove himself.
Bregman is in a tough spot. His place in the future of the franchise probably has more to do with what others do above him than what he does. He could force the issue by putting up huge numbers, but that would likely have the Astros making some tough decisions in the offseason next year. He won’t be a factor at the big league level this season unless he gets called up in September.