Jose Vidro, circa 1993
Prospect Retro: Jose Vidro
Jose Vidro was drafted in the sixth round in 1992, out of high school in Puerto Rico. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League Expos, he had a fine pro debut, hitting .330/.376/.440 with 10 steals in 54 games, showing power potential, speed, and athleticism. At the time I think I would have given him a Grade C+, which remember is a good grade for a guy in rookie ball.
The Expos skipped him past short-season ball in 1993, sending him directly to Burlington in the Midwest League. He didn't do well, hitting just .240/.317/.328 in 76 games, stealing only 3 bases. Indeed, he never regained the stolen base ability that he showed in his pro debut. Given his youth I might have kept the C+ grade; it is hard to know in retrospect.
Despite his '93 struggles, the Expos moved him up another level in '94, and he responded well, hitting .267/.344/.366 in the Florida State League. He contributed 30 doubles, and showed improved command of the strike zone, cutting his strikeout rate almost 50% compared to '93 while drawing 51 walks. By this point he was gaining a reputation as a skilled defensive second baseman. Eddie Epstein gave him a Grade C in the '95 Minor League Scouting Notebook, but noted that Vidro was quite young. I think I would rate a similar player as a C+ nowadays.
'95 was a decent year. He hit .325/.360/.497 in 44 games for West Palm Beach, earning a promotion to Double-A where he hit .260/.315/.390 in 64 games. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '96 book, writing that "Vidro is very young, and could develop much further with the bat. At the very least, he should be a competent reserve infielder."
Returning to Double-A in '96, Vidro hit 18 homers. But his increased power came as a result of increased aggression at the plate, which lowered his walk rate and OBP. His final numbers were .259/.300/.447, giving him an OPS around league average. He continued to have a good defensive reputation, playing at second base, third base, and shortstop, as the Expos were grooming him for the super-utility role. I gave him another Grade C+.
Vidro broke through in 1997, hitting .323/.370/.523 in 73 games for Triple-A Ottawa, finding a way to mix his increased power production with better plate discipline. He struggled offensively with the Expos in '97 and '98, then hit .304/.346/.476 in 140 games for Montreal in 1999 at age 25. He's been one of the best second basemen in the game ever since, hitting .290 or higher six times with more power than most middle infielders, earning three All-Star nods.
Vidro's minor league record contained hints that he would be a strong player, notably in rookie ball, in A-ball early in 1995, and certainly in Triple-A. It took him some time to find the right balance of "controlled aggression" at the plate, showing that he could control the zone as well as hit for power at the same time. But I don't think anyone looking at him in 1993, 1994, and most of 1995 and 1996 would have said "this guy will be a three-time All-Star." The general consensus was that he'd be an excellent utility player, or perhaps an average regular.
Keep this in mind when you see guys with C+ grades. They can and will surprise us.