Drew Maggi’s Speed may be His Path to the Majors

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Typically, a player that has spent two and a half seasons at the AA level would not attract much attention. That is especially true when that player is 25 years old, and has yet to rise above that level. However, when that player leads a team’s minor league system in stolen bases, it may be time to take another look at that player. That may be where the Pirates find themselves with Drew Maggi.

Maggi was drafted by the Pirates in the 15th round of the MLB Amateur Draft in 2010. He rose quickly through the system, reaching the AA Altoona Curve midway through the 2012 season. However, he has remained there ever since, producing a combined .257/.349/.320 batting line with four home runs and sixty stolen bases in his time in the Eastern League.

While Drew Maggi’s career numbers at AA are hardly the stuff that major league players, let alone legends, are made of, he appeared to take a step forward last year. At least, the surface statistics, a .280/.382/.340 batting line and 37 stolen bases, would appear to give hope that Maggi could end up as a useful major league player.

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However, those improvements may be completely unsustainable. Maggi only had an 11.4% line drive rate, as he certainly was not driving the ball with anything resembling authority. Despite that low line drive rate, Maggi produced a .326 batting average on balls in play, likely buoyed by his 52.2% ground ball rate. With his excellent speed, Maggi likely reached on balls that would have otherwise been outs for slower runners, boosting that batting average on balls in play.

Even that excellent speed does not seem to serve Drew Maggi as well as it should. Yes, he stole 37 bases last year, but he was also caught 19 times. He also had all of 15 extra base hits last year, with twelve doubles and three home runs. Given his low line drive rate, that lack of extra base hits would have to be expected, yet with his speed, it is still disappointing.

What may help Maggi’s cause to continue to rise in the system, aside from his speed, is his plate discipline and his defensive versatility. Last year, Maggi walked 50 times in 414 plate appearances, and has a career minor league on base percentage of .349. Defensively, Maggi has played at every infield position, as well as spending time in left and right.

If Drew Maggi is to reach the majors at some point in the future, it is likely to be as a utility man and pinch runner. Maggi would likely start a couple of times a week and hit towards the bottom of the lineup. Otherwise, he would likely appear as a defensive replacement or when the Pirates needed a bit of speed on the basepaths.

Without the speed or defensive flexibility, Drew Maggi would likely end up as a  career minor leaguer. That may well be his future regardless, yet that speed and position flexibility may be enough to give Maggi a chance.

Next: JaCoby Jones could be the Pirates future at short

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