Atlanta Braves Prospect Spotlight: Barbaro Canizares

So I have been batting around the idea of doing some prospect spotlights with different Braves farmhands and i decided to go forward with the idea. What I want to do with this is not to tell you more about guys we already know about. So you most likely won't be seeing write ups from me on Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Locke etc. I want to address guys who aren't as well known, maybe not even real prospects but someone who may help the team out at some juncture. So with that I give you my first Prospect Spotlight. Feel free to make suggestions or give criticism.

Barbaro Canizares, 1B B: R T R HT: 6' 3" WT: 210 Born: 11/211979

So we have had some talk around here lately about the Braves calling up Barbaro maybe to be a pinch hit bat off of the bench. Not a horrible idea if we didn't have Norton and Prado who are both already good pinch hitters (even if the numbers this year don't show it yet).

Canizares was signed out of Cuba which has proved lucrative for the Braves recently producing players such as Brayan Pena, Yunel Escobar and current minor leaguer Donell Linares. Canizares was originally a catcher for the Industriales in the Cuban league. He and Kendry Morales (now starting for the Angels) were two of the biggest stars in the league at the time and were actually kicked off their team for attempting to defect in 2004.

The Braves signed Canizares in Frebruary of 2006 and he made his debut at Myrtle Beach and moved up to Mississippi before he was injured in August ending his season. His debut was what I would call a success posting a .781 OPS at Mississippi which isn't bad for a guy adjusting to a new world. He hit .301 but only had 5 HR in 300 ABs. In 2007 Canizares ran into some immigration issues and only played in 49 games at Richmond, but made the most of the opportunity by hitting .344 with an OPS .881 but still only 3 HRs in 182 ABs. In 2008 Caonizares finally got a full season under his belt at AAA he posted a solid OPS of .785 and totalling 13 HR in 504 AB.

A couple of things to note about Canizares' skills. First is that he is slow as crap. Really slow. He has 3 SB in his career but he has never been thrown out so I guess that is good? But the SB don't really tell the story of his real speed. He has grounded into 38 double plays in less than 1,000 ABs. Second, he is turning 30 later this year so he has been old for his league every year in the States. I honestly don't think this really diminishes him much, its just the nature of what being a Cuban defector is. He probably hasn't gotten much better since he signed with the Braves.

As far as hitting goes He controls the strike zone decently well. In his one full season he had 43 BB and 69 strikes outs. Not an amazing walk rate but not a horrible K rate either. Obviously he can hit for a little bit of an average not having ever hit below .300 in any stint in any league he played in in the U.S. He doesn't have a whole bunch of power however so with his mediocre walk rate he has to hit for a high AVG or he isn't useful anymore.

So at this point do you have any idea who I might compare him to? It is our other Cuban defector, Yunel Escobar. Here is Yunel's minor league line: .295/.368/.413. And here is Canizares': .312/.368/.444. The same OBP for both guys with a little more power from Barbaro and a little more speed from Escobar (though he was caught in half of his minor league SB attempts).

Well Yunel is a pretty decent major leaguer right? Yeah but his defense is excellent and he plays a position that demans less from the bat. Canizares would need to step up his power numbers to make any real impact at the major league level. I think he could be a serviceable bench bat, but I would never want him starting for my team longer than a week. I think at this point he has at least earned himself a call up with the big club, but as it stands he isn't even on the 40 man, so they would have to stick him in one of those 2 free roster spots they have, and I just don't see that happening.

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