Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis and Brandon Wood will duke it out in spring trainging for the starting shortstop job. 24-year old switch hitting Erick Aybar played in 79 games for the Angels last season and he was 46 for 194 (.237 avg, .568 OPS) with 18 runs scored, 1 homer, 19 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. Aybar has been a high average hitter in the minors and he’s a base stealer. Aybar played in 20 games at SS for the Angels last season and he made 2 errors while showing below average range. He appeared to be the leader when spring training started.
27-year old switch hitting Maicer Izturis is such a valuable player off the bench that it may actually hinder his chance to win the starting SS job. He played in 102 games last season for the Angels and he was 97 for 336 (.289 avg, .754 OPS) with 47 runs scored, 6 homers, 51 RBIs and 7 stolen bases. Izturis only played in 3 games at SS last season for the Angels and he made 1 error while showing outstanding range. Izturis would likely be the best option at SS if the Angels value defense there.
23-year old righty swinging Brandon Wood entered spring training as the long shot but he also is the player with the most upside. He played in 13 games for the Angels last season and he was 5 for 33 (.152 avg, .425 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 1 homer and 3 RBIs. He also whiffed 12 times and looked overmatched at times in the majors. He played in 3 games at SS for the Angels last season and he didn’t make an error while showing poor range. Wood is the #1 prospect in the Angels’ minor league system according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He has played in 549 games in his minor league career and he is 611 for 2,163 (.282 avg, .878 OPS) with 361 runs scored, 107 homers, 384 RBIs and 61 stolen bases. If the Angels value offense at SS then Brandon Wood should win the starting job.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2008 SEASON: C