Luis Alexander Basabe
Basabe entered the 2016 season as the seventh-ranked prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system according to milb.com, and so far in 2016 has done much to prove himself worthy of at least that high of a ranking. Basabe switch hits, but sees most of his pop coming from the left side, and he looks more comfortable there overall. He doesn’t have a large frame, but has broad shoulders and a strong lower half. I don’t see him getting too much bigger, but he should add some strength and still maintain his above-average athleticism. I wouldn’t say he and Manuel Margot (CF, Padres) are the same type of player, but the bodies project in a similar manner.
While he is still showing some swing and miss (27% K-rate in 2016, and 26% in 2015), the power is starting to develop, and he is showing signs that he is learning the strike zone. He started slow, but has been on fire in the second half with a 1.032 OPS and .338 average. He’s up to nine HRs, four of which have come in his last 80 ABs after hitting 7 in all of 2015. So he’s still striking out, but he’s still managing to put up a .327 OBP thanks largely to the .409 OBP he’s posted since the All-Star break.
While the recent hot streak is likely above where he will ultimately settle offensively, this is more than just him finding holes and getting balls to drop – he is squaring balls up on a consistent basis, something that is a product of him learning the strike zone and getting better pitches to hit. It is relevant to note that many of the upper level pitchers in this league have been promoted in recent weeks so he may be catching a little bit of a break in the competition, however the plate discipline is a sign that he is able to make adjustments and could be starting to utilize his tools.
I did not get to see him run much in my looks, however he has a very athletic gait in center field and the 15 bags he’s stolen are a good indication that he is at least average. At first glance it looks like he should stay in center field – on a ball in the right-center field gap he made a nice play to cut it off and showed feel to get into a good throwing position before firing a strike to third base to almost nail the runner going 1st-to-3rd. The arm works well, he stays on top with a clean release and 60-grade arm strength.
The word is that Basabe had not played much baseball growing up and he was said to be incredibly raw when he signed as an IFA in August, 2012. He is still young for his current level (he won’t be 20 until the end of next month), so to see him putting things together is a very good sign. He still has a lot to prove and A-ball is a long way from Fenway Park, but if the progression continues it will make him a big part of the next wave of Red Sox hitting prospects.