With the acquisition of 23-year-old Adeiny Hechavarria in Tuesday’s mega-deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Marlins now boast one of the defensive shortstop prospects in all of baseball. The Cuban-born Hechavarria, who defected to Mexico in 2009 after playing for the Cuban Junior National team, was originally signed to a four-year, $10 million contract by Toronto in April 2010. He was one of the most sought-after international free agents on the market, with the Yankees even considering him as a possible long-term replacement for Derek Jeter. Hechavarria quickly made a name for himself in the Blue Jays’ system for his stellar defensive play, with Baseball America naming him the club’s Best Defensive Infielder at the conclusion of each of the last three seasons. In addition to his defense, Hechavarria also possesses good speed that many scouts believe could make him a basestealing threat in the future.
Hechavarria made his Major League debut on August 4, 2012 against the A’s, where he went 0-for-3 with a walk. The biggest question surrounding Hechavarria is, and will continue to be, whether or not he can hit enough consistently at the big league level, particularly due to his poor plate discipline and high strikeout totals. Hechavarria is mainly a line drive hitter, though some scouts believe there is potential for some gap power as he develops further. He finished his 2012 season for the Blue Jays with a line of .254/.280/.365 in 41 games, which isn’t all that bad (though obviously a small sample size), but it remains to be seen whether or not his bat will be able to produce enough to justify having him in the lineup on an everyday basis, no matter how well he plays defensively.
Even with Yunel Escobar coming over in the deal, it’s more than likely that going into spring training next year, the shortstop job will be Hechavarria’s to lose. Hechavarria also played both second and third base for Toronto last season, but even with how thin the depth is all around the Marlins’ infield, it would not make much sense to put Hechavarria at somewhere other than his best position.
Adeiny Hechavarria may not be Jose Reyes, but with his defensive ability and potential to make improvements at the plate, he has the chance to be a valuable piece of the Marlins’ infield for the next several seasons.