Chris provided us with a fantastic interview with Jim White, the Public Relations Director for the Padres Double-A affiliate San Antonio Missions, yesterday. In that interview, White made an interesting observation about a player most don’t think about, a player we haven’t profiled here since 2010. That player is Vincent Belnome.
Here’s what Jim White had to say about Belnome:
"All the guy does is hit. He’s a career .301 hitter who averages 14 home runs and 67 RBI’s a season so far. He hits very well to all fields, has a great eye at the plate (102 walks in 2010), is always on base and was arguably our MVP last season before he got hurt."
That prompted me to do a little more research. Belnome is just 23 years old and will be entering his fourth year of minor league ball. Since 2009, he has played first base, third base, and second base. I’ll pause for a moment and let that last position sink in. The Padres have question marks in their middle infield – not just at the Major League level, but in the farm system as well. With that in mind, just how likely is it we will see Belnome turning double plays in San Diego?
First, let’s consider his offense. As Mr. White said above, Belnome is a career .301 hitter, but what about the rest of his slash-line? In his three seasons of minor league play, ranging from the Rookie League up to Double-A, Belnome has put up a triple-slash of .301/.418/.500. While playing half his games in the admittedly (even by PR Director Jim White) pitcher-friendly park of Wolff Stadium, Belnome managed a .333/.432/.603 line in 75 games. Beyond just his simple numbers, Belnome walked 14.8% of the time last season. He clearly can judge a pitch.
His defense is not as well-documented and there are less metrics available for analysis at the minor league level, but Nathaniel Stoltz, who wrote for Chicken Friars before moving on to covering prospects for Seedlings to Stars, had this to say about Belnome’s defense:
"Belnome plays hard at second, but struggles with lateral movement, leading to below-average range and double play turning."
He doesn’t commit very many errors though, and could be a welcome improvement offensively. Belnome’s late-round draft status (drafted in the 28th round), his injury last season, and Cory Spangenberg‘s promise makes it hard to believe we will see Belnome anytime soon. But he has promise. According to Padres Prospects:
"Belnome received a tough draw in 2011, missing all but 75 games due to injury. After burning through the Northwest, Midwest and Cal Leagues he was primed for his first true test in Double-A. A .333/.432/.603 slash line flashed a very advanced skill set, but there are few in the scouting community who are ready to buy into the former Mountaineer as a big leaguer just yet."
If the Padres can ultimately shift Spangenberg to shortstop or find somewhere else for Belnome to play, we may see him sooner. For now, he will probably get a crack at the hitter-friendly league of the PCL in Triple-A.