Los Angeles Angels Giving Alex Yarbrough Chance to Earn Utility Role


Originally selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, Alex Yarbrough is currently in Tempe with the Halos as a non-roster invitee. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com is reporting that the 23-year-old switch-hitting second baseman is getting an early chance to show what he can do at third base, first base, and left field this spring.

Alex Yarbrough spent the entire 2014 season with the Angels double-A affiliate in Arkansas. Yarbs excelled in the Texas League; batting .285, with 5 home runs and 77 RBI’s over the course of 136 games. He posted an impressive .321 on base percentage and slugged .397 with the Travelers. Yarbrough is not known for his wheels, as he tallied just 6 stolen bases last season. He struggles at times with strikeouts, and in 2014 he whiffed a career high 124 times across 544 at bats.

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The Allen, TX product has put together a pretty solid three-year minor league career. Alex Yarbrough has hit .295, with 16 home runs, 184 RBI’s, and 29 stolen bases across 1388 career at bats. He brings a career on base percentage of .327 with him to Tempe. Despite a low home run tally, Yarbs has slugged .422 during his career. MLB.com ranks Yarbrough as the Angels’ 11th best prospect entering 2015.

Alex Yarbrough has seen time exclusively at second base during his minor league career, but he has failed to impress in his first three seasons. The Ole Miss alum recorded a .982 fielding percentage last season with the Arkansas Travelers. Yarbs is not considered a gifted athlete and his 4.14 range factor per game speaks to this.

Overall, Alex Yarbrough bares a striking resemblance to a young Howie Kendrick. Just like Howie, Yarbs’ solid offensive game makes up for his porous defense. Both players manage to be run producers despite lackluster power. Neither player was known for their glove work in the minor leagues, but Kendrick worked hard and improved dramatically in the big A over the past few seasons. If Yarbs can improve with the leather, he too could develop into an everyday second baseman.

Jun 18, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Inland Empire 66ers second baseman Alex Yarbrough (24) before the California League vs Carolina League All Star Game at San Jose Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It is very surprising the Angels are giving Yarbrough this opportunity, as it was assumed Grant Green or Josh Rutledge would handle the utility infielder role in 2015. The Angels have five second basemen in camp, but Green and Rutledge are the heavy favorites to man the keystone this season. Neither player is considered to be plus defenders, but both have ample experience playing all over the infield. Green saw time in left field with his hometown Angels in 2014, and Rutledge spent the bulk of last season playing shortstop for the Colorado Rockies.

Yarbs’ offensive skill set could threaten Green and Rutledge’s status. Alex Yarbrough has the least experience of any middle infielder in camp, and I did not expect would be given the chance to compete for a job this spring. I do however think he possesses the most offensive upside of any second baseman in Tempe. The Halos currently have a lack of left-handed bats on the roster and his ability to switch hit could factor into Mike Scioscia’s decision. If he can produce at the plate and showcase his versatility defensively, Yarbrough could potentially earn a spot on the Angels’ opening day roster.

Personally, I do not anticipate Alex Yarbrough will break camp in early April with the Los Angeles Angels. I think the Halos will go with Rutledge and Green to start the season. Look for the 23-year-old to begin the year with the Salt Lake City Bees, but if Green or Rutledge falters, the Angels will not hesitate to give Yarbs his first taste of big league action in 2015.

Next: Angels' Spring Training Battles: Second Base

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