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2012 Preview – Outfield

April 2, 2012

With the start of the season within reach, let’s dust this place off and preview  the outfield for the Flying Squirrels.

Of the five outfielders listed for the Flying Squirrels three of them are returning. Chris Dominguez, Wendell Fairley, and Juan Perez all saw time with the Squirrels last year and were with the team last season and played in the post-season. Dominguez is the strange addition to the outfield rotation for me. Having seen most of his time at third base last year and at 6′-5″ 235 pounds, he certainly has a the profile of a corner outfielder, just not the bat (but we’ll get into that later).
Nick Liles and Gary Brown are the newcomers to the fold. Liles saw most of his playing time in Single-A San Jose and then a very short 3 game stint in Triple-A Fresno. Gary Brown is the consensus top prospect in the Giants organization. Having spent his entire season in Single-A San Jose, and having really no problem with it, he will spend a most, if not all, of his playing time in center field. If all goes well, he may only be in Richmond for a couple of months. So enjoy him while you can. This is going to be a very fast outfield, something that plays well at The Diamond.

The Stats

Gary Brown is certainly going to see some of his number regress this year. The California league is the epitome of a hitters league and Brown’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP, yes you will see that around here, but do not fear, I will explain them) is a highly unsustainable .369. A BABIP above .300 certainly shows some “luck,” although Brown’s speed certainly helps. Of all his balls in play 40% of those (197) were ground balls. Combine that with his speed and it makes some sense, but it will certainly take a downturn this season. The one thing that concerns me is his almost 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  It is by no means horrible, but it will certainly be something to keep an eye on.

Juan Perez had a mediocre 2011 season, putting up a .257/.303./.384 triple slash (BA/OBP/SLG). He certainly did not help himself getting on base by striking out at an almost 3:1 clip.  When he made contact though, he collected bases. His ISO, a simple/dirty look at a hitters raw power by removing singles that are used in SLG%, was .127.  In fact, almost a third of his 116 hits went for either a double (25) or a triple (10).

Chris Dominguez is an enigma to me. As mentioned earlier, he has great size. Certainly one that could produce a power hitter. But the 25-year old just causes a lot of questions. One tool he does not have is command of the strike zone.  In his two stops last year, San Jose and Richmond, he struck out a combined 150 times and walked 27 times. Of those strikeouts, 139 of them were swinging and 11 looking. He shows problems with pitch recognition, but it is hidden by how much he likes to swing.

Fairley, like Dominguez, split time between San Jose and Richmond. He is still relatively young for the level and still could develop power.  Of the five outfielders his ISO is the lowest (.073), followed closely by Nick Liles. Like all the other outfielders, Fairley will strikeout much more than he walks.

Nick Liles is an interesting addition. He saw time at two levels, San Jose and Fresno, albeit his stay in Fresno was only for three games. He put up at .281/.317/.372 triple slash in San Jose. He will not hit for power, but he will hit for average and get on base.

Overall this will be a fun outfield to watch in Richmond. With a lot of ground to cover in The Diamond, these guys should have no problem. And if they put one in the gaps while batting, things could get real fun. Gary Brown is certainly the star out there, but the others will hold their own.

Check back tomorrow for the catchers and infielders preview.

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