2014 Player Preview: J.B. Shuck
The once discarded Houston Astro, J.B. Shuck, proved to be beneficial this past season for the Halos. With the outfield set to consist of Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, and Peter Bourjos at the beginning of the 2013 season, it appeared that he would sit on the bench should he survive the roster cuts following spring training. Nobody could have predicted the nagging injuries that sidelined Bourjos opening up the outfield for Shuck, or his run for American League Rookie of the Year (eventually placing 5th in voting).
Roll for the Angels in 2014: Depth. With Kole Calhoun reaffirming his value in 2013, J.B. Shuck‘s days of starting in left field are most likely over. The trading of Peter Bourjos to St. Louis also cements center field for Mike Trout, with Calhoun most likely finding a spot in right field, shifting Josh Hamilton to left. This leaves Shuck to be a back-up outfielder, or to be Hamilton’s defensive replacement when his bat is no longer needed.
Goals: Shuck has proven himself to be a solid contact hitter, ending 2013 with a .293 batting average, also batting over .300 quite a bit during the season. Hitting for power is a different story. He hit a mere two home runs during the 2013 season despite playing in almost 130 games, hitting his first on July 29 against the Texas Rangers. Players smaller than Shuck such as Dustin Pedroia have hit significantly more home runs than him, so size should not be a problem. Whatever the case, Shuck needs to work on being able to hit long balls in order to boost his value.
What does the future hold?: With five outfielders currently on the Angels’ active roster and two more on their Top 20 Prospects, J.B. Shuck most likely does not have guaranteed starting time in the future with the Angels. Should he stay on the team, he will most likely be a bat off the bench. It is doubtful that the Angels’ could scrounge much trading him, so the only way Shuck would leave the organization is through free agency or being released.
Bottom Line: Despite putting up an admirable 2013 campaign for rookie of the year, J.B. Shuck doesn’t have much of a future as a starter for the Angels. With the outfield set to consist of Hamilton, Trout, and Calhoun, he will most likely play off the bench during the 2014 season.