Name: Mark Reynolds
Weight: 200 lbs
History: At the end of the 2005 season, it was clear that Mark Reynolds had some pop. But his underwhelming range at shortstop also screamed out, as did a low batting average and even lower walk total. A Tony Batista-type career appeared to be Reynolds' ceiling.
Then last season, Reynolds came into his own. He was used everywhere in the infield and in the corner outfield positions as well. Many players use this as an excuse for not producing on offense, but Mark instead creamed the stuffing out of the ball. He clubbed 31 homers in fewer than 400 at bats across two levels of play. While some of that can be attributed to playing part of the year at Lancaster, his road numbers there and his success as a young hitter in Double-A point to a player that has figured something out.
"[Reynolds had a] breakthrough year for us," Director of Player Development AJ Hinch noted, adding that Reynolds "Went from not playing a lot to leading our organization in most offensive categories."
His breakout season earned Reynolds a spot in the Arizona Fall League last year, where he continued all of this success. Reynolds hit .327 with 18 extra base hits in 101 AFL at bats, playing six different positions all the while. Becoming the next Tony Batista has evolved from being Reynolds' best case scenario to being perhaps his worst.
Statistics Courtesy of The Baseball Cube
Batting and Power: Reynolds had an extremely high batting average on balls that he put in play last year; so high that another full season batting over .300 appears doubtful. The only way for Reynolds to consistently hit for a very high average would be to cut down on his strikeout totals.
That's not going to happen, as no one wants to mess with a swing that generates so much power. His natural stroke now appears that it will net him an average in the .270-.290 range as opposed to the .250-.270 range. When he's hitting a homer about every 13 at bats, no one's going to question his .276 batting average.
Critics are quick to point out that his numbers at Lancaster were inflated, but they fail to mention that the Southern league notoriously aids pitchers. Reynolds is following up a great 30-game stint in Tennessee with a fantastic offensive start to 2007 in Mobile.
Baserunning and Speed: Although Reynolds does sport slightly above average speed, he's really not asked to showcase it now that he's a major run producer. He won't clog up the base paths or ground into many double plays, but he also won't steal tons of bases or leg out a lot of triples.
Defense: Just because Reynolds has been asked to play a half dozen different positions does not mean that he excels at any of them. He has an .882 fielding percentage at third base over the past two years, and that's the position that many feel Reynolds is best suited for. While Reynolds maintains an excellent attitude about all of the position swapping, he also recognizes that not getting enough concentrated reps at just a couple of positions adversely affects his performance.
"It keeps the game exciting," Reynolds wrote of his utility role in an AFL journal for MiLB. "Coming to the park and not knowing where you're going to be that day is both fun and tough at the same time. There are so many different responsibilities at every position, it's hard sometimes to remember exactly what you are supposed to be doing or what base to back up or where to stand to be the cut-off man. It's something that I'm adjusting to and will only get better at with time."
In broad terms, Reynolds' arm is solid enough to play anywhere, though it is below average in right field. His range is something of a liability at shortstop, but it's difficult to gauge his coverage at other positions until he becomes more familiar with them.
Major League Clone: Bill Hall
Prediction: While it would be quite a luxury to have a second baseman who could hit 30-40 homers in a season, the Diamondbacks are more likely to let him fill the more traditional power roles of third base or left field. He has only manned the hot corner thus far with Mobile; left field may be a destination for later in his career.
ETA: The decision to start Reynolds at Double-A has more to do with giving both he and Jamie D'Antona time at third base than it does with Reynolds not being ready to hit Triple-A pitching. Having this set position for the time being should help Reynolds' development, and we will see him in Tucson before the end of the season. He'll likely win a utility spot on the Diamondbacks at some point in 2008, and should nail down a starting spot in 2009 wherever the team needs his bat most urgently.
Read more from Keith Glab at BaseballEvolution.com