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4/15/14

What did I see from Eduardo Nunez last weekend

As I indicated earlier, in addition to seeing Alex Meyer, one of my goals last weekend when I attended the Red Wings' last 3 games at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, was to have a good look at the newest Twins' player Eduardo Nunez.  Nunez, once the heir apparent to Derek Jeter and a Yankees top prospect, was traded by those Yankees to the Twins for Miguel Sulbaran (quick scouting report from this Spring Training here.)   Even though I am deeply enshrined as an Eduardo Escobar supporter for the Twins' starting Shortstop job,  any improvement over Pedro Florimon, is more than welcome, so I was extremely intrigued at seeing Nunez on the field and at the plate.

In the three games I saw, Nunez played Shortstop, DH, and Right Field.  There has been a reputation built around Nunez indicating that his defense is poor.  Looking at the various measurements, which are all affected by the smallish sample size, UZR, fangraphs "Defense" and RZR does not like him much, but it also looks like he made 50 plays out of the zone at shortstop in 152 games, so color me intrigued.  Here is what I saw:

In his game as a shortstop he handled several balls and made good accurate throws to first base.  Adjusts well on different batters and is pretty aware.  On a particular grounder he juggled the ball, but still initiated a double play, so that did not hurt.  As a right fielder he took good routes to the ball, had to dig a ball from the corner and did it exceptionally well and made strong throws to the correct cut off man.  On one occasion he tried to barehand a ground ball and he overran it by a foot, but recovered.  All in all he looks like an average fielder to me out there, if a bit eager to make a play.   I am not sure about where the reputation of a bad fielder comes from (maybe from WFAN 660 callers?) but for someone like me who have seen the Twins play Buscher, Nishioka, Harris, Delmon Young, and still play Plouffe and Willingham on the field, I think that Nunez will be an improvement over all of them.

As far as his bat goes, I was really impressed by the quality of his plate appearances.  You can see a video of a plate appearance here.  He is tied for the lead in Home Runs for the Red Wings with 3 and he has not played that much.  His ability to adjust and put the ball in play is excellent.  Something that the Twins can really use in the bottom of their lineup.  In addition to the video example mentioned above,  here is a sequence of photos that shows what I described:

Pitch 1:  Slider low and outside, swing and miss:






Pitch 2: Same pitch. Moves inside a more, times it better and fouls it:




Pitch 3: Same pitch. He gets the fat piece of the bat and turns it in for a double:


I cannot remember how many times I have seen Twins' hitters in the majors failing to do this.

All in all, I think that Eduardo Nunez will be an asset for the Twins and part of the solution in the future.



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