One name that was overlooked and skimmed upon was utility infielder Carlos Asuaje. It is interesting that Asuaje has been overlooked so much, due in large part to the fact that it appears like he might have an inside track towards being the first player from the trade in the big leagues. AJ Preller has already stated that he expects Asuaje to compete for a roster spot in the spring. If he cannot earn a spring spot, I would expect him to start the season in AAA El Paso, and be up with the big league squad relatively soon thereafter.
At 5’9″ and 160 pounds, Carlos Asuaje was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB First Year player draft. He left school early to purse his big league dream. When he was drafted in 2013, Baseball Draft Report had this to say about Asuaje:
Nova Southeastern (FL) JR 2B Carlos Asuaje: strong hit tool; quick bat; surprising power; good speed; good defender at both second and third, playable at SS; patient approach; could be plus at 2B; FAVORITE; great athlete; good range at 3B; such a smart hitter; level swing plane; line drive machine; 5-8, 165 pounds (2011: .355/.432/.498 – 28 BB/15 K – 13/16 SB – 211 AB) (2012: .389/.480/.611 – 30 BB/18 K – 15/18 SB – 190 AB) (2013: .320/.441/.449 – 38 BB/13 K – 32/35 SB – 178 AB)
In his first year of low-A ball, Asuaje hit .269/.366/.368 with one home run and twenty RBI. In 2014, he had an outstanding year, hitting 15 homers with a .310/.393/.533 batting line across two A-ball stops. He also had 101 RBIs. The Red Sox brass decided to give him a full year of AA ball last year, and in that time he did quite well, putting up a slash line of .251/.334/.374, hitting eight homers with 61 RBI in 131 games.
During his time in AA, his durability (131 games played) and number of plate appearances (570) led all Red Sox minor leaguers. He also had a 29 game on base streak from late April to late May. One thing that was a little disappointing was how his power did not translate from A ball to AA ball, but there is always time for that power to come back this year. We will see if last year was an outlier year in terms of power or if the trend from 2015 continues.
Most recently, after the trade, Asuaje hit .329/.359/.425 in the fall league while recording a 13 game hitting streak. This performance earned him the right to be named to the Arizona Fall League’s all-prospect team. You can view a snippet of his AFL at bats here.
Asuaje is projected as someone with great bat skills. He has a feel for hitting that not a lot of prospects in the Padres system have. For a relatively young player (24 years old), he has great recognition of the strike zone. If last year’s AA numbers reign true, his bat skills will not result in a lot of power at the big league level. However, they should result in a potentially high average with very few strikeouts. In AA last year, Asuaje walked 56 times and struck out 88 times.
In the field, Asuaje has played second base, third base, shortstop, and left field during his brief professional career. Scouts have said that he is better off at second base because of his average arm strength. Despite this, he is able to hold his own at other positions because of his makeup. One word to describe him in the field would be instinctive. He may not have the most talent at any position, but he has the instincts to be a solid utility man in the major leagues. He does all the little things right.
Asuaje has average speed but has shown the ability to steal a base here and there. He has 21 stolen bases in three minor league seasons.
Carlos Asuaje was never going to be the “sexy” name in any trade talks, but he definitely has the talent to be a solid player at the Major League level. His ability to play multiple positions will provide a nice option for Padres manager Andy Green, and his ability to hit for contact will be well received in a Padres uniform. He will likely compete with Jose Pirela, Alexi Amarista (barring whether the Padres acquire a shortstop or not), and recently acquired Adam Rosales in the spring for a spot on the 2016 San Diego Padres Opening Day roster.