Esteban Quiroz: The Red Sox Second Basemen You Should Stash
Mexican second baseman Esteban Quiroz didn’t generate a ton of hype after signing with the Boston Red Sox this past November. Maybe it was due to his ripe old age of 26, or maybe it was his diminutive 5’5” frame. The fact that he never cracked MLB Pipeline’s list of Top 30 International Prospects couldn’t have helped either. But while many people slept on Quiroz after a quiet signing, I think it would be wise to take notice. The player who is currently owned in only 1% of Fantrax leagues looks to have the offensive tools necessary to become a solid fantasy asset, and Boston might be a great place for him to get a shot at the keystone.
The second baseman is currently getting his first taste of life in American Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs. While he’s late getting started with a major league affiliate, don’t take his lack of playing time in the American minor leagues for a lack of experience. Quiroz played 282 games in the Mexican League since 2015. Take a look at what he was able to do in that span:
His impressive plate discipline and power combination are hard to ignore. And while many would argue that the Mexican League’s talent level is closer to Double-A than its technical Triple-A ranking, it is clear that Quiroz has produced on a consistent basis against solid competition. It was this level of production that earned him a spot on the Mexican squad for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and eventually a major league contract.
Now in the States, Quiroz has played in 15 games in 2018. He has just 63 plate appearances to his name, so keep that in mind when looking at this next chart. Here is what he has been able to produce:
Of those stats, only his strikeout-percentage could be considered ‘stabilized’ according to Fangraphs. I am tempted, however, to look at these numbers as evidence of an approach to hitting that is as consistent as it is valuable. It is pretty close to what he was able to do in Mexico. While I wouldn’t expect Quiroz’s .302 Isolated Power to continue, I do like that his discipline has carried over–so far.
For everyone’s sake I will resist the temptation to fully endorse a Small Sample Size. But I will endorse continuing to monitor Quiroz closely as he gets more experience against more familiar competitors in Double-A. If his discipline and power continue to play close to how they currently are, we might have uncovered a middle-infielder with an above-average plate approach. Here are a few MLB’ers who displayed similar offensive profiles in 2017:
I’m not saying Esteban Quiroz will be Buster Posey. I am saying that he looks to have the makings of a player who could provide steady, above-average value especially to owners in OBP leagues. This type of offensive talent could quickly earn him a promotion to Triple-A, or even the major leagues.
Boston’s current second baseman is quality veteran Eduardo Nunez. The 34-year old Dustin Pedroia is just beginning spring training activities after a knee surgery in October. The rest of the depth chart is made up of utility options like Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin. The road isn’t without obstacles, but I think Quiroz has at least one factor aside from talent working in his favor: his age.
Quiroz, as previously mentioned, is 26 years old. He also has a lot of professional experience. This isn’t a player that Boston will have to bring along slowly. If he continues to rake at Double-A, it seems logical that they’d want to continue testing him against stiffer competition. If Quiroz continues his assault on Double-A pitching, I can’t imagine Boston doesn’t promote him to Triple-A after he reaches 200 to 250 plate appearances. And if he continues producing after reaching Triple-A, he might be a great add to the big-league club when rosters expand later this summer. With an on-base oriented approach like his, it seems that he’d be a valuable pinch-hitter in the stretch run and post-season.
I’ll admit: that is a lot of ‘ifs.’ Clearly a lot still has to happen for Quiroz to become everyday fantasy relevant, and it is unlikely to happen this year. I’ll be watching him closely to see what Boston does with him, and how they perceive his offensive value throughout the year. At a certain point, a player who can get on base and hit for decent power demands his opportunity to play, and it might not be long before Boston is feeling the pressure to see what Quiroz can do.