A few readers requested a brief look at Arizona Diamondbacks rookie outfielder Ender Inciarte.
Inciarte hit .278/.318/.359 in 2014, with 19 steals, 25 walks, and 53 strikeouts in 447 plate appearances, OPS+ 89, wRC+87. Not spectacular with the bat, but his strong defensive play resulted in a 2.9 fWAR, very credible for a 23 year old rookie who received little attention pre-season.
He first came to notice when the Philadelphia Phillies chose him in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft. Here's how he was rated entering 2013:
The Phillies selected Inciarte in the 2012 Rule 5 draft. He is a 22-year-old Venezuelan signed by the Diamondbacks in 2008. He’s a bit easy to miss because his ’12 season was split between two levels, but he hit a combined .307/.376/.421 with 28 doubles, 10 triples, two homers, 53 walks, and 63 strikeouts in 473 at-bats between South Bend and Visalia last year, also swiping 46 bases in 58 attempts. A speedy left-handed hitting center fielder, he didn't show much with the bat before last year, but is young enough that the improvement could be real. He profiles as a reserve outfielder. Grade C.
Inciarte didn't stick with the Phillies and returned to the Arizona system for 2013, hitting .281/.327/.362 with 43 steals for Double-A Mobile, still drawing good notice for his glovework. Entering 2014:
Signed by Arizona out of Venezuela in 2008, Inciarte was selected by the Phillies in the 2012 Rule 5 draft but didn’t stick with the club and was reclaimed by the Diamondbacks. He had a decent year in Double-A and gained a spot on the 40-man roster for 2014. Inciarte is a fast left-handed hitter who is an adept stealer and can play all three outfield positions. He makes contact but lacks distance power or lots of walks, profiling (for me anyway) as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Grade C.
Making sense of all this, Inciarte's glovework has always been well-regarded but was, I suspect, a little better in the majors than anticipated. His speed played well and he's efficient and effective as a theft artist, stealing 19 in 22 attempts. His batting average, OBP, and SLG were all exactly what you'd expect given his minor league track record.
If his bat stays where it currently is, his defense and speed will keep him employed for some time, at least as a fourth outfielder and platoon option. Given his age, there's a chance he could grow more than expected, not so much in the home run department but in other ways. It seems quite possible that he can boost his OBP and add additional doubles power as he matures.