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Top Prospect Alert - Esteban German

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 12/26/78, Age: 22, Height: 5í10íí, Weight: 165, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Athletics - Signed as an undrafted FA from Dominican Republic. 2000 Stats: (High-A - Visalia) .264 AVG, 428 AB, 14 2B, 10 3B, 2 HR, 78 SB, 61 BB, 86 K, .361 OBP, .357 SLG. (AA - Midland) .213 AVG, 75 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 SB, 18 BB, 21 K, .379 OBP, .267 SLG. 2001 Stats: (AA - Midland) .284 AVG, 335 AB, 20 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 31 SB, .415 OBP, .415 SLG. (AAA - Sacramento) .373 AVG, 150 AB, 8 2B, 4 HR, 17 SB, 18 BB, 20 K, .457 OBP, .507 SLG.

Esteban German has just entered a tremendous window of opportunity. The trade of Jose Ortiz, the consensus #1 Aís prospect who had first rights to the Oakland 2B job for the next 10 years or so, has left that position wide open. German, with his level of play this season, has positioned himself well to challenge for the job next spring. After a 2000 season that saw German decline in every facet of the game except speed, one would have had reason to write German off as a prospect. He had just finished his third season of pro ball, and had not improved at all. His core skills, getting on base and creating havoc once there, seemed to be getting stale. A trip to Midland, as we all know, can cure any hitter of any malady. Germanís OBP returned to itís .400+ level, and he also managed to slug .415. A promotion to AAA occurred about two-thirds of the way through the season, and German kicked his game up another notch. He hit 373/457/507 the rest of the way for Sacramento, and ended up scoring 119 runs with 48 stolen bases on the year, good raw numbers for any leadoff hitter. German needs some work on the other side of the ball, committing 23 errors this season between the two levels. As quick as he is, there is no reason that he canít improve enough (like Eric Young, perhaps) to become a league average second baseman defensively.

With only Frankie Menechino in front of him, German should have a reasonable chance to win the job in spring training next season. The Aís are always looking for inexpensive solutions for their lineup, and German might be able to fill Damonís shoes in the leadoff slot if he bolts. Even if he returns to Sacramento at the beginning of the year, I would expect him to receive a call-up by midseason. His core skills, even in his off year in 2000, have always been at a high enough level to merit serious consideration for the leadoff spot. His 100 plate appearances at Midland last season were deemed disappointing, but he still reached base at a .380 clip. If he can maintain anything between his peak and nadir in batting average and on-base percentage, I think heís the strongest leadoff candidate that the Aís have in their system right now. Perhaps a Fernando Vina-like career would be reasonable to expect, with the possibility of becoming Chuck Knoblauch pre-meltdown.


 

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