Projecting Jean Segura
Much has been made of Jean Segura’s future with the Angels organization following the Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick extensions. Once the inevitable successor to the second base position, then the inheritor of the shortstop position, Jean Segura’s definitive role is in a state of flux. On one hand, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick aren’t the most consistent players in the world, and having a capable backup like Segura is a valuable protection policy. On the other hand, Aybar and Kendrick didn’t become MLB veterans without proving year in and year out that they belong in the lineup, thus Segura’s presence is more of a luxury rather than a necessity. Fans are generally split on what to do. Many who see this as a black and white issue will bring up the point that Segura would be a tremendously valuable trade chip, one that could net the Angels what they need and make them a more complete team. Still, others will note that Maicer Izturis receives a great deal of playing time and is a Free Agent after the season, there’s no reason to believe that Segura couldn’t take over such a role. But before anyone can really decide what to do with Jean Segura, first we must analyze specifically who Jean Segura is and what he will be in the majors.
In 75 AA games thus far, Segura has posted a slash line of .287/.330 with 9 doubles, 4 triples, 7 homeruns and 27 stolen bases. His K/BB rate is a somewhat troubling 51/15. His .943 fielding percentage indicates that his transition to shortstop has been a somewhat rocky venture so far, though it should be noted that Segura has the range and arm to be an above average major league shortstop. Still, he lacks that certain grace that Erick Aybar flashes at the major league level. Many scouts believe he’s destined to play a lot of second base at the major league level, where he is already a “plus” defender. Another option could be third base, where Segura’s range and arm could also make him a plus defender.
The season is only half way through though, and Segura’s .287 BA is very likely to creep up toward .300 as the year progresses. The only reason it’s as low as it is currently is because of the slow start he had in April. In May and June, Segura is hitting over .300. But how does he compare to other Angel players at this stage in his career? Specifically, how does he compare to many current Angel players?
Erick Aybar was a year younger than Segura in AA (Aybar was 21 years old) and produced a slash line of .303/.350 with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 9 homeruns and 49 stolen bases across 134 games. Segura would currently be on pace for a slash line of .287/.330 16 doubles 7 triples 12 homeruns and 48 stolen bases. They’ve generally flashed the same type of power, though Segura has slightly more, and they both have similar speed. In the major leagues, Aybar has turned into a dependable hitter, who will usually deliver a .273/.316 line with on average 20-30 doubles 5-10 homeruns and 20-30 stolen bases.
Maicer Izturis was in AA at ages 21 and 22. Across a total of 120 games there he posted a .278/341 s;lash line with 23 doubles 12 triples, 1 homerun and 22 stolen bases. At the major league level, Izturis has a career line of .272/.337. He’s flashed gap power, and some ability to steal bases, though he remains most valuable in the field where he provides above average defense at second, third and shortstop.
Peter Bourjos was in AA at age 22, the same as Segura. Over 110 games there, Bourjos delivered a .281/.354 slash line with 16 doubles, 14 triples and 6 homeruns to accompany 32 stolen bases. It’s still very early in Bourjos’ career, so the only data indicative of his ability is in 2011, the only year in which he received full playing time. He gave the Angels .271/.327 26 doubles 11 triples 12 homeruns and 22 stolen bases. Still, there’s a very good chance he’ll be even better as he reaches his physical prime.
Segura specifically incorporates aspects from all three players into his game. He shares Erick Aybar’s quickness and ability to steal bases, but has more power. He shares Peter Bourjos’ power, but lacks his overall speed. He has Maicer Izturis’ versatility, though not his refinement with the bat or glove yet. Judging by the career arcs of each player, Segura probably won’t need a lot of time in AAA, and there may not be a long adjustment period in the major leagues before he hits his stride. He does have certain undesirable qualities that exist within his player comps though. His plate discipline remains somewhat poor, a trait shared by Bourjos and Aybar, which is a flaw that is only magnified at the major league level. He also gets caught stealing too frequently as Aybar did and needs to learn how to read pitchers better.
But from a purely scouting point of view, Segura could be significantly better than any three of these comparisons. While he’s fast, he’s still a step slower than Aybar and Bourjos, which may only get worse as he ages because his legs are so thick to begin with. His glove, range and arm are all three better than Maicer Izturis’ but Maicer is clearly the better fielder because sometimes tools don’t necessarily match on-field production. He has Erick Aybar’s arm and glove, but Aybar’s range and athletic ability surpass that of Segura’s. However, where Segura has all three players beat is with his bat. His ability to make contact surpasses every comp available on the Angels. He has a very quick bat much like Peter Bourjos, but has great lower body strength, core strength and upper body strength than anyone. So while he has 10-15 homeruns ability now, it’s entirely possible Segura could hit 20 homeruns at the major league level. But this is no guarantee. Power is often the final tool to develop and at times, it won’t develop at all, or won’t transition to the major league level.
Still, given Segura’s skill set, he seems like a player with the ability to handle second, third and shortstop at the major league level. He should have little trouble hitting for average at or above Peter Bourjos’ level and has slightly more pop in his bat. In essence, it looks as though Jean Segura will be a .280/.320 type of hitter in the major leagues, that can give the Angels approximately 25 doubles, 15 homeruns and 25 stolen bases on an annual basis. This doesn’t necessarily make him a superstar, but it makes him a very good player. In general, Segura looks like he’ll be a 3-4 WAR player for the Angels. Conversely, in terms of pitching talent, your average ace or #2 starter is expect to give you a 3-4 WAR every year on average.
If the Angels did indeed trade Segura away, would they be able to acquire a young, top of the rotation starter that is under control for 6-7 years just as Segura is? Given the inconsistent nature of Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick along with an overall lack of production from third base, at this point the safest bet for the Angels would be to hold onto Jean Segura. This allows him to inherit Maicer Izturis’ role and through Callaspo reaching free agency, or Segura’s ability with the bat, give him the opportunity to earn even more playing time than Izturis in the future.