A few days ago, I noted that the Derek Jeter contract situation might get contentious, but that ultimately an agreement made too much sense for both sides. One portion of that belief was the conviction that the Yankees have no one in the system close to ready to take over for Derek, and that he would likely be the best option going forward. I continue to believe that unless the price reaches Ryan Howard levels, Jeter is the best choice, but a number of people asked me about Eduardo Nunez as a possible replacement. Luckily for me, Greg Fertel of Pending Pinstripes recently profiled Nunez:
If you were to start touting Nunez now, based on what he’s done in 2010, I couldn’t argue with you. The sample is small, but what Nunez has done is extremely impressive. On the season, he is hitting .377/.438/.507 with a .413 wOBA. That is a very impressive line, but it is not without the help of an inflated BABIP.
On the year, Nunez holds a career high .391 BABIP. However, he also has a career high 21 percent line drive rate. The BABIP will drop, there’s no doubt about that, but there is still a lot to like.
Nunez has shown great contact ability this season. He has only struck out in five percent of his at bats. Before 2010, his career low strikeout rate was 11.9 percent. He also has a career high walk rate of 10 percent. His previous high was 6.9 percent.
Much like Greg, I have never considered Nunez a real prospect, likely because he was clearly being overhyped by a segment of the fanbase. Furthermore, his defense is not great, his power is minimal, and his batting eye was (until now) atrocious, suggesting that he was simply the beneficiary of some empty minor league numbers that were unlikely to translate into anything more than a utility role with the Yankees. However, as Greg notes, he is giving Yankees fans something to get excited about thus far, albeit in a small sample. If he can maintain the improvements in his plate discipline, that will go a long way towards making him a starting caliber Major League shortstop. I would not count on it, but this is something that is worth tracking for the remainder of the 2010 minor league season.