Back in March, the Rays signed Cuban defector Leslie Anderson to a 4-year, $3.75 million contract. After starting the season in single-A, Anderson has moved very quickly through the organization hitting .303/.371/.453 with 9 home runs at three different levels. With his recent promotion to triple-A Durham, it seems almost certain that he will be promoted to the Rays during the September roster expansion.

But what kind of hitter can we expect once he is promoted and how will the Rays use him? Let’s take a closer look.

Lefty-Righty splits…

Well, with splits like that, Anderson will almost certainly never be an everyday player for the Rays. He does have a big disparity in Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) versus lefties (.203) and righties (.377). That might explain some of the disparity in his splits. Still, we would be surprised if he saw much playing time, if any, versus left-handed pitchers. But he should get a lot of looks against righties.

What kind of hitter is he?

He is a solid contact hitter striking out only 11.9% of the time. For comparisons, Evan Longoria’s strikeout rate is 21.6%, BJ Upton is at 29.6% and Carl Crawford’s is 17.3%. As a result, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a very good 37-to-24. The 24 walks translates to a walk rate of 7.7%. That is comparable to Crawford (7.4%), but would be one of the lowest rates on the team.

Anderson is also an extreme groundball hitter (49.2%). The only member of the Rays with regular playing time and a higher groundball rate is Crawford (50.6%). The groundball rate explains the lack of power even though he has a solid 12.5% HR/FB rate. Only Carlos Pena (23.7%) and Matt Joyce (16.7%) have higher rates on the Rays.

Where will he play?

So far he has almost equal playing time in left field (127 ABs) and first base (121 ABs). It just so happens that the Rays two biggest free agents-to-be play left field (Crawford) and first base (Pena). Is Anderson being groomed to replace one of those guys? Maybe.

The Rays will never let Anderson face a lefty. But if the Rays decide to fill left field or first base in 2011 with a platoon, Anderson will almost certainly be the left-handed portion of that pair. Right now, Anderson looks more like plan B if the Rays can’t find better options this off-season or if Desmond Jennings still isn’t ready when camp breaks in 2011.

Who does he remind us of?

This is a tough one. Anderson is a lefty-hitter with big splits and an outfielder with a decent glove. But he has little power and no speed. Of the current crop of players, the best comparison somebody suggested was David Murphy of the Rangers. If Anderson were ever given a shot to play everyday, he’d probably be a similar 275-15-80 hitter with a .340-.350 OBP and above-average defense.

He is very similar to many of the low-budget options the Rays sign. But his low-walk, high-contact rate does set him apart. Slide him into the 5-hole and he could be a solid run producer versus right-handed pitchers for the Rays.

 
 

10 Comments

  1. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Well, he looks like a solid hitter. He has a good AVG., and a low strike out %. Which this team sorley needs. It would make all the sense in the world if the Rays brought him up for the end of the year. I’m just not to sure how much of an impact he could have if he is called up in September.
    I definately think this guy is going to be used in September, but he will definately be used more next year.

  2. Gus says:

    I wonder if his Cuban stats show such a split on lefty/righties?

    Given that they are both older and both lefty, why wouldn’t Dan Johnson be the top candidate to replace Pena? I think sometimes people fall in love with the Cuban players because they are exotic and somehow getting one, you are beating the system (and sticking it to Castro). But I’m not so sure DJ may not be the better player. Not exciting, I know.

  3. Chris says:

    I know that the Rays paid a bunch of money for him, but after watching every at bat he’s had with the Bulls (7 games) here’s my take. He’s played six games in left field and one game at first. Doing an OK job in left, but because of the short left field wall, that’s not a good measure. He did, however, very quickly adapt to the wall’s quirks and has made one very nice play off the wall. Decent arm.

    At the plate: 12 hits, 11 singles and one double. He has not tried to steal a base, which is unusual for players on a Montoyo team. He certainly seems to have the speed. The sample size is messing up his numbers with Durham, but they are very, very good so far .462/.533/.500. But he has shown no real power.

    Looking at current Bulls, at least two of them are better ballplayers — faster, stronger, more versatile — Elliot Johnson and Justin Ruggiano.

    Will he develop? Of course he will. Is he better than AAAA? I don’t think so.

    • Brian says:

      Bulls season tix holder, have been at 4/7 games he’s played (missed the one at 1B). Chris’s write up seems spot on. I’d add he seems to have a smile on his face all the time and has seems to have very good plate discipline.

  4. cubanballfan says:

    The Camagüey batsmen bounced back in 2007-2008, with a batting line of .336/.455/.564 with 19 home runs, 66 walks, 69 runs and 63 RBI in 90 games. He was 9th in the circuit in long balls, tied Yoandry Urgellés for 5th in total bases (186) and tied for 4th in walks.

    He was on Cuba’s roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic, splitting first base duties with Alexander Mayeta and Joan Carlos Pedroso. Anderson was 2 for 9 with a double, no runs and no RBI in the event.

    In 2008-2009, Anderson batted .381/.490/.572. He finished 5th in the batting race behind Michel Enríquez, Yulieski Gourriel, Yorelvis Charles and Giorvis Duvergel. He also won a Gold Glove at first base. He left Cuba following that season.

  5. Don says:

    Dan Johnson was hitting better, playing better than this guy in the minors….now look at DJ’s act in the majors!
    Don’t count on minors UNTIL they perform here…little league doesn’t count….

  6. Jason W says:

    I say let him face lefties, he was obviously doing something right in Cuba to hit them. And anyways how you suppose to learn to hit lefties if you dont face em? Put him in left field(with some games at DH) next and see how he does both on offense and defense.From what I’ve read, the Rays might shop Upton in the offseason, and if they do, that would open up a spot for Jennings when they think he is ready. At first I say platoon Aybar and johnson, with the one who doesnt play 1st DHing.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      “And anyways how you suppose to learn to hit lefties if you dont face em?”

      I completely agree. But this is not the Rays way. Otherwise we would see Matt Joyce facing lefties more often. Let’s face it, Joe Maddon never saw a platoon he didn’t love.

  7. Nate says:

    According to the cubanbllplayers.com blog, “In the last Cuban season, Anderson finished 5th in batting average with 381. He batted .379 against lefties and .382 against righties. Anderson connected 92 times to left field, 68 times to center and 105 times to right field.”

    Those splits look just fine, though it is unclear how many ABs we are talking about. Does anyone know his numbers/splits over several seasons in Cuba?

Leave a Comment