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Know Your Utility Infielders

These are the kind of stats that make you want to play Danny Valencia at second base.

Christian Petersen

As we have discussed....a lot, the Royals certainly seem like a team that intends to break camp without a true utility infielder on its roster.  I have to tell you, I'm a little intrigued by the thought of seeing an infield of Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Danny Valencia and Billy Butler in the 15th inning of some game this year.

Should Kansas City decide that they don't want to head north minus a backup who can do more than find a middle infield position, their options boil down to the following.


Over pieces of four seasons, the 28 year old Ciriaco has appeared in 163 major league games with a triple slash of .277/.307/.385.  He has some speed (27 steals in 32 attempts) and has played every position but pitcher and catcher.  That said, Pedro's experience in the field lies at second, short and third.   His major league career line is helped greatly by a 2012 visit from the good BABIP fairy (a .293 average fueled by a .352 BABIP).  That said, his nine season minor league line of .273/.299/.357 is not all that far off what Ciriaco has done in the majors (i.e. he is what he is).

We don't have enough major league innings to make a statistical decision on Pedro's fielding.  The very small sample sizes show him above average at second and really below average at short and third, but the innings are just not enough to make a determination there.  Here is a fun fact for you:  Ciriaco has played more third base in the majors (47 games) then he did in the minors (11 games).  Fielding metrics aside, Ciriaco has logged 723 minor league games at short and 111 at second.


Donald used to be a prospect (#69 overall prior to 2009) and was included in the Cliff Lee trade in July of 2009.  Half of Jason's minor league at-bats have come at the AAA level where he slashed .260/.339/.388:  numbers far below what he accomplished at lower levels.  Over three major league seasons, Donald has played 170 games slashing his way to an unimpressive .257/.309/.362 line and striking out 24.0% of the time.

Defensively, Donald has split time in the majors between short and second (dabbling at third and the outfield) and the small defensive sample size does not look kindly upon his work there. His minor league time was spent predominately at shortstop.

Like Ciriaco, the 29 year old Donald hits right-handed.


I would like to think that a couple more losses in 2009 would have resulted in the Royals drafting third and picking Manny Machado.  Sometimes, I dream what would have been Dayton Moore had opted, as rumored, for Chris Sale instead of Colon.  Stop it, you'll drive yourself mad....

Anyway, the Royals - who drafted Colon in part because they thought he would be a 'quick mover' to the majors - have now waited three and one-half season and 400 plus minor league games for Colon to earn a promotion to The Show.  The wait will almost certainly continue.

With Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante signed for the foreseeable future, it is pretty obvious Colon is no longer viewed as an option to be an everyday player (at least until Escobar hits .191 for a season and a half).    His .274/.339/.374 line, the bulk of it coming in hitter friendly leagues, is hardly inspiring.

Prior to the 2011 season, Colon was ranked as the #51 prospect in baseball and will turn twenty-five in early May.  His time in professional ball has been spent exclusively at short and second.


Johnny has played 33 AAA games at third and 20 more in left-field in the last two years, but he is still basically a second baseman only.  His defensive issues are known to all.  If Giavotella could ever hit in the majors as he has in the minors, the Royals might be able to tolerate his defense at second.  He has not, of course, and that ship has sailed.  Really, playing Danny Valencia out of position once in a while makes a lot more sense than doing so with Giavotella.


The twenty-five year old switch-hitter has a .234/.274/.311 in 118 career major league games.  Paredes has played 54 games in rightfield, 47 more at third and a handful more at second and in left.    In pieces of seven minor league seasons, Jimmy actually played more second base than any other position (by quite a bit) and spent time at short as well (including 20 games last year in AAA).

While Paredes' major league career is abysmal, his minor league line of .289/.324/.428 is not horrible at all.  It includes 210 games in AAA with a .306/.347/.471 with 83 extra base hits and 53 stolen bases.  Those are not eye popping get this guy to the majors now numbers, but they stand out next to the above. want to be the Royals' utility infielder.

On second thought, I think Danny Valencia might well be the best option after all.