<img alt="Second halved: After a slow start to 2019 due to a broken hand, Basabe is starting to speed up in Birmingham.” src=”https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/A3KTLDJkNRRsIiiQAlk4ZFskoOU=/1681×162:3886×1632/1310×873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/63929796/999718008.jpg.0.jpg” />
With an arm strong enough for right field, enough speed to cause havoc on the bases, and a developing hit tool, superstardom could be on the horizon
2018 SSS Top Prospect ranking: 11
SSS rank among all center fielders in the system: 2
As a prospect from Venezuela, he and brother Luis Alejandro Basabe received identical $450,000 signing bonuses from the Boston Red Sox on Aug, 26, 2012, when they turned 16. From 2013-16, “our” Basabe advanced as high as Salem, the Single-A+ affiliate of the Red Sox. On Dec. 6, 2016, he was traded to the White Sox along with Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz for southpaw ace Chris Sale.
The 2017 season with Winston-Salem was a disappointment for Basabe, marred by injuries that he decided to play through. His poor results should be taken with a grain of salt, partly due to the injuries, but also because he was much younger (2.6 years) than the average player in the league. Overall, Basabe slashed .221/.320/.320 in 435 at-bats, with five homers, 36 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, 49 walks (11.26%) and 104 strikeouts (23.91%).
As a result of those struggles, Basabe returned to the Dash in 2018 and displayed much better results. In 2018 for Winston-Salem, Basabe slashed .266/.370/.502 with 12 doubles, five triples, nine homers, seven stolen bases, 30 RBIs, 34 walks (13.88%) and 64 strikeouts (26.12%) in 207 at-bats prior to his June 21 promotion to Birmingham. For the Barons, in a much tougher hitting environment, Basabe slashed .251/.340/.394 with nine doubles, three triples, six homers, nine stolen bases, 26 RBIs, 30 walks (11.11%) and 76 strikeouts (28.15%). Other than strikeouts, Basabe actually had a really solid year.
Basabe seems to just be scratching the surface of his raw talent. He’s got above-average power and exceptional arm strength, especially for someone with such a slight build. In fact, aside for perhaps Micker Adolfo, Basabe may have the best outfield combination of power and arm strength in the organization. Throw in speed, his defense (just 14 combined errors in six minor league seasons), and his power, the potential for superstardom is there if he can fully tap into it. Basabe is just 22, so there’s every reason to believe he can do so — especially if he can reduce his strikeouts. If he were able to reduce his whiffs by one every five games he played this year while maintaining his BABIP of .343, Basabe’s cumulative average would have risen from .258 to .276.
Basabe broke his hand in spring training, lost time he’s still trying to make up this season in Birmingham. After a short rehab stint in Winston-Salem, Basabe returned to the Barons and has hit .229/.315/.271. Basabe basically has split his time between center field and right; he also committed an uncharacteristic three errors in the early going, two of them in the less-familiar position of left field. Keep in mind, Basabe is still 1.7 years younger than league average in Double-A.
Take a look!
This delightful reel is courtesy of FanGraphs.
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