Minor League Prospect Report: Edward Salcedo, 3B, Atlanta Braves
Seeking to make a big splash in the international market, the Atlanta Braves signed Edward Salcedo out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, giving him a robust $1,600,000 bonus. They expected him to be a robust power hitter. While he hasn't quite been a bust, but he hasn't been overly impressive, either, and his '12 season was a disappointment. Let's take a look.
Salcedo made his North American debut with a dismal 54 games for Low-A Rome in 2010, hitting just .197/.239/.295 with 11 walks and 56 strikeouts in 193 at-bats. However, he was jumping almost directly from the island to full-season ball, and he was supposed to be a raw player. Struggles were expected.
Returning to Rome in '11, he hit .248/.315/.396 with 27 doubles, 12 homers, 41 walks, and 105 strikeouts in 508 at-bats. His OPS was 2% below Sally League average, but it was still an improvement compared to his debut, and scouts felt he made progress tapping into his power.
Moved up to High-A Lynchburg this year, Salcedo hit .240/.295/.412. He improved his home run production with 17 bombs, although his Isolated Power moved up just moderately to .172 from .148. The improved power didn't help his overall production: his OPS was exactly the same as last year, 2% below league average. Other broad metrics are similar: his wRC+ was 96 in 2011, 92 this year. He also saw a slippage in plate discipline, going from a 41/105 BB/K in 508 at-bats to a 33/130 BB/K in 471 at-bats.
The former shortstop has impressive arm strength and range at third base, but remains excessively error-prone, committing 40 gaffes in 2011 for a .872 fielding percentage, and 42 this year for a .891 fielding percentage. His reliability improved very slightly, but it is still substandard. He has plenty of arm strength and mobility, but without more feel for the position, he may wind up at an outfield corner. He has the arm to play right field, but of course that would increase the pressure on his bat.
Sabermetrically speaking, Salcedo was the same guy in 2012 that he was in 2011, maybe a little worse. He was playing tougher competition, but he was a year older, too, so the competition factor balances out.
Scouting reports...well, those haven't changed much either. Listed at 6-3, 195, he looks a bit bigger than that. Salcedo has bat speed and the ball flies when he makes solid contact. Alas, contact and plate discipline are very significant issues: he struggles against pitchers who can change speeds or locate their secondary pitches with any sort of precision. There are plenty of pitchers like that at higher levels, and unfortunately his problems grew worse as the season progressed: he hit just .215/.282/.411 with 74 strikeouts in his last 60 games.
At this point, scouts seem to be patient with his glove, noting the need for better reliability but not giving up on him at third base yet.
The potential saving grace for Salcedo is age: he's only 21. The Braves have assigned him to the Arizona Fall League, and it will be extremely interesting to see how he handles it. Based on what he's done so far in pro ball, his transition to Double-A next year isn't likely to be a smooth one. Expectations need to be tempered until Salcedo proves he has the skills to make his tools meaningful.