Prospect Retro: Ryan Theriot

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Ryan Theriot was drafted in the third round in 2001, out of Louisiana State University. He was considered a strong defensive infielder with the ability to hit for a high average, though lack of power kept him out of the first two rounds. Assigned directly to the Florida State League (big jump from college ball,) he hit just .204/.341/.252 in 30 games for Daytona, obviously not impressive with the stick, though scouts remained very impressed with his glovework. I gave him a Grade B- in the 2002 book, noting the strong defense and thinking that he might develop some moderate power given his strong strike zone judgment.

Theriot went back a level for 2002, playing for Lansing in the Midwest League. He hit just .252/.335/.313. He showed good plate discipline, drew 59 walks, and strole 32 bases in 40 attempts, also continuing to show good defensive skills in the middle infield. But his power didn't develop, and scouts said he needed to get physically stronger. I gave him a Grade C in the '03 book.

2003 began at Lansing again, where he hit .259/.353/.318 with 21 steals in 58 games. Promoted to Double-A West Tennessee, he hit .236/.351/.270 in 53 games. Speed and defense remained assets, and he was getting on base at a decent clip, but the lack of pop remained a big issue. He remained a Grade C and a future utility player in my opinion at the time.

Theriot took a step back again in 2004, going back to Class A Daytona and hittign .273/.367/.342. Again, no power, but good plate discipline, and again he would rate a Grade C. By this time he was a 24 year old with a good glove, a nice BB/K/AB ratio, but no proven ability to hit advanced pitching.

Things began to change in 2005. Back in Double-A, he hit .304/.365/.391 with 24 steals, 45 walks, and just 38 strikeouts in 448 at-bats. He got into nine games with the Cubs, hitting just .154, but at least he made it to the Show. Given his age I would still rate him a Grade C, but with a chance to be a useful utility guy.

2006 was the big breakthrough. He hit .304/.367/.379 in 73 games for Triple-A Iowa, then a robust .328/.412/.522 in 53 games for the Cubs. The SLG with the Cubs was way out of context for his career, and may have created some unrealistic expectations. His .266/.326/.346 mark in 148 games for the Cubs last year was a lot more in line with expectation. He's at .321/.400/.384 this year.

All told, in his major league career Theriot is hitting .288/.357/.380 in 921 at-bats. This is somewhat better than you'd expect given his minor league performance, although even in the minors he showed good plate discipline and contact ability. Interestingly, if you told a scout in 2001 that Theriot would be a .288 hitter in the majors but without big power, he would probably not be surprised...that is what people thought he would be coming out of LSU. 

 


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