Luis Alexander Basabe
One of the lesser known names in last winter’s Chris Sale (LHP, Red Sox) blockbuster, Basabe houses the tools to at some point in the not-too-distant future be an above average everyday contributor in center field at the big league level. Around this time last season, I wrote up Basabe while he was in the Red Sox’ system, and highlighted his advanced feel for the strike zone and his excellent bat-to-ball skills. He is not an overly physical kid, but his broad shoulders indicate that he has room to fill out and get stronger while maintaining the plus athleticism that will help him to make an impact in center field. That all said, 2017 has not been as kind to Basabe, and he has been slow to produce in terms of extra-base pop and batting average (hitting .214 with a .632 OPS through 358 plate appearances after this weekend). His .283 BABIP is also relatively low, and while it may indicate that bad luck could be a partial factor, he is also not consistently making the hard contact that he showed while with Boston in 2016.
Despite the first half struggles for the young switch-hitter, there are several signs that Basabe, who at 20 years old is still on the younger side for the level, will turn in a strong back nine this year and continue to develop. His strikeouts are down 1.4% to 24.6% this year versus 2016, but he is missing more pitches in the middle of the plate than he has in the past. Basabe has shown a jump in his walk rate, going from 9% in 2016 to 11.3% so far this year, so his overall knowledge of the zone is still there — but the increased quality of stuff he is facing on a daily basis has been a challenge for him and impacted his ability to make consistent, hard contact. The bat speed is still there, so as he adjusts to the level, the power should come. In addition, he is 15-for-19 in stolen bases and has been very good playing every day in center field, making excellent examples of his ability to impact the game in several areas. Even if the offensive struggles leak into the second half, it does little to detract from how good of a player Basabe will become.