Rob Segedin made his major league debut yesterday for the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 2-for-3 against the Boston Red Sox with four RBI. You won't find his name on prospect lists: he's a 27-year-old minor league veteran, considered to be Triple-A roster filler four months ago.
It wasn't always that way: he was quite well-regarded coming out of Tulane University, drafted in the third round in 2010 by the New York Yankees. He performed well in the lower minors, including .323/.396/.492 run through Low-A in 2011, but his bat stagnated on reaching Double-A in 2012, then injuries cost him almost the entire 2013 season. He came back in 2014 and was decent enough, hitting .283/.398/.428 in Double-A, but by that point he was overshadowed by other prospects. He was traded to the Dodgers this past January.
The switch in organizations has been a godsend for him: he's murdered Pacific Coast League pitching this year, hitting .319/.392/.598 for Oklahoma City with 21 homers, 40 walks, and 81 strikeouts in 373 at-bats. He's on pace for career-best mark in virtually every category.
There are two big caveats: he's 27 years old, the classic peak season, and his outburst occurred in the hitting-friendly PCL.
Segedin is 6-2, 220, a right-handed hitter born November 10, 1988. In college and in the Yankees system he was respected for his feel for the strike zone, but the raw power inherent in his strong frame was largely untapped. That's different this year. The reports I have from the PCL are unfortunately vague about what's changed, but it shows up in more than just the numbers.
Here is his spray chart from 2014, from MLBfarm.com
Now look at 2016.
Notice the difference: almost all of his 2014 homers were pulled straight to left field. ALL of his 2015 homers were pulled that direction. But in 2016 that is much less clustered, with homers hit to the left center alley, center field, and even to right. This could be a case of a player discovering that he can actually produce power more frequently by NOT trying to pull everything.
Here's some video, first a home run from 2015
Then one from 2016
The camera angles aren't quite the same so this could be deceptive. Both home runs were pulled to left, but in these clips it looks to me like he's opened up his stance a bit, holding his front leg at more of an angle towards third base now compared to last year. The angle at which he's pointing the bat when the pitcher is ready to release the ball looks different, too. Stop the first clip at two seconds and the second clip at five seconds.
Many of you know more about swing mechanics than I do. What's your take? Is there a major change here?
As for his other skills, Segedin doesn't have much speed and is a competently average defender at either infield corner. He can also play left and right fields. He won't win gold gloves at any position but the versatility is an asset in itself.