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Martin Prado: Atlanta Braves 2009 Player Preview

The previews continue, with this one written by Josh G., who posts here as jeg.

Martin Prado enjoyed a career year in 2008, in which he posted an .838 OPS in just over 250 PA’s. Prado proved to be a valuable player off the bench, capably filling in at 3B, 2B, and 1B, even earning a platoon spot at 2B for a period of time.

Prado’s strong play in part time duty in 08’ has led to comparisons to Yunel Escobar’s 2007 season. However, in attempting to set expectations for Prado this season, it is important to compare his 08’ numbers to his minor league track record. For his minor league career, Prado has posted a .745 OPS and while he has been improving over the course of the past two seasons, it may be unreasonable to expect Prado to maintain his 08’ level of production. A further look into Prado’s 08’ season reveals that Martin’s final statistics were largely buoyed by his fantastic August, in which he posted an 1.103 OPS in 77 PA. In August, Prado’s BABIP was an unsustainable .484, especially compared to the league average which is traditionally between .290 and .300.

Following his hot August, Prado saw more playing time in September and regressed back toward the mean. By excluding his red hot August, Prado’s numbers fall to more in line with expectations for a player with his minor league track record and humble skill set. Martin has worked diligently to improve his defense and has seen significant gains in recent years. While not possessing outstanding physical skills, Martin Prado has been a professional success largely due to his versatility and “dirt dawg” mentality.

Ability to make consistent contact and above average bat control are Prado’s greatest tools as a baseball player. He should continue to hit for a high batting average, but his overall production will likely fall below his 08’ level. While many Braves’ fans seemed eager to give Prado a look as an everyday player, his play outside of one month of his career does not seem to warrant increased playing time. Though he perhaps would be overexposed as an everyday player, Prado is a very useful Major League utility man. His versatility defensively and his ability to provide quality at bats should prove to be an asset for the Braves in the 2009 season.

Another fantastic preview from jeg, Prado reminds me a bit of a poor-man's Mark DeRosa, and sometimes I wished we had held on to DeRo.

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