Who Is The Real Trevor Story?
Shortstop Trevor Story has been one of the most enigmatic prospects over the last few seasons and the start of his 2015 season has served as yet another reason to not give up on a talented prospect too quickly in a dynasty league because of a ‘down’ season or an extended period of struggling. You probably are already familiar with the trials and tribulations that have played out over the last few seasons for Story. After being selected 45th in the 2011 draft, he burst on the scene at Low-A Asheville in 2012, posting a .872 OPS powered by 18 home runs and 15 steals. Dynasty owners were already licking their collective chops picturing the next up-the-middle fantasy monster invading Coors Field soon. Then 2013 happened.
Bret ranked Story 261st on his Top 500 List, and the 53rd best dynasty league prospect heading into the 2013 season. Baseball Prospectus had Story as the number 34 prospect before the season as he moved from the friendly confines of Asheville to the even friendlier California League, calling Modesto home. He saw over 100 points fall of his slugging percentage, a rarity for any California League participant, struck out in a third of his plate appearances, and saw his on-base percentage barely stay above .300, finishing with a horrific wRC+ of 83. At least Story didn’t stop running, as he swiped 23 bases in 24 attempts over 130 games in his age-20 season. Story’s 2013 was underwhelming any way that you slice it, leading to visions of Josh Rutledge dancing through many dynasty league owners’ heads. That left him as waiver wire fodder in many shallower leagues, and the Rockies sending Story to the California League once again to start 2014.
Certainly expectations were tempered for Story heading into 2014, as he appeared on virtually no top-100 lists over the winter. Story found his second go-around in the California League much more to his liking, putting up a .332/.436/.582 line in 218 plate appearances, also chipping in five home runs to go with 20 SB in 24 attempts, basically doing what many thought he would do the year before. The Rockies moved Story up the latter to Double-A Tulsa and he struggled to adjust to the new level, just as he had in the year before. Story compiled 237 lackluster PA at Tulsa, leading to a .200/.302/.380 line, reminiscent of his 2013 Cal League numbers. He did club nine home runs, but scouts often cited his trouble with off-speed pitches leading to him looking downright overmatched at times, something not particularly uncommon for a 21-year old experiencing Double-A pitching for the first time. Particularly alarming about Story’s first foray at the Double-A level was his 34.6% strikeout rate, which jumped from the 27.1% mark he showed earlier in the year in Modesto.
Not surprisingly, the Rockies sent Story to the Double-A level once again, this time at their new affiliate in New Britian, to start his age-22 season, and he has responding by absolutely mashing in his first 109 PA to the tune of an absurd .398/.505/.716 clip, chipping in five home runs to go with six steals. Obviously nobody thinks he can keep this up over the course of the season, but Story is showing major improvements over last year, starting with lowering his strikeout rate to a more manageable 23.9% level, and increasing his walk rate from 11.8% last year to 15.6% this year, which would be his highest mark of his career.
[milbvideo id=”73077783″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
Story’s ground ball rate has declined (21.5% to 14.8%) from his first taste of Double-A, and his fly ball rate has skyrocketed (20.4% to 38.6%) in 2015. His ISO has jumped from .180 to an ridiculous .318 as he continues to adjust to Double-A pitching. It’s too soon to draw concrete conclusions based upon a little over 100 plate appearances, but these numbers are all signs pointed in the right direction.
With Nolan Arenado establishing himself as one of the best young third basemen in all of baseball, and Tulo entrenched at short, the Rockies don’t have an opening on the left side of their infield, and likely won’t for some time, barring the inevitable trip to the DL for Troy ‘Tulowizki‘ so the Rockies moved Story around a bit in 2014, playing him 14 games at 3B and five games at 2B across the two levels in 2014, also giving him time at 2B during the Arizona Fall League. He hasn’t appeared at any other positions besides SS in 2015, but if Story keeps on hitting, he may force the Rockies to take a longer look at him as a 2B. Story looks like a classic case of a player a few years younger than the average league age taking a (sometimes lengthy) period of time to adjust to a new level and then making the adjustments necessary to be successful, so be wary of cutting bait too soon with Story if he struggles in his first taste at the big league level.