Cincinnati Reds: A Closer Look at Infield Prospect Didi Gregorius

Dan Allen@@DanVAllenCorrespondent IIFebruary 29, 2012

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Didi Gregorius #68 of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait during a photo day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 25, 2012 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

Mariekson Julius Gregorius, better known as Didi Gregorius, has been lighting up the Cincinnati Reds spring training camp at Goodyear, Arizona this past week.

It seems fitting with the growing buzz around this young player that Gregorius be looked at with a more in-depth analysis.

Gregorius is an athletic, slick-fielding shortstop currently in camp with the Reds. Signed out of Curacao in 2007, Gregorius has played the past four seasons in the Reds farm system.

Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Gregorius finished 2011 with the AA Carolina Mudcats. Gregorius has quickly made an impression on the coaching staff and fellow players alike in Goodyear this spring with his flashy fielding ability less than a week into spring training.

A true athlete, Gregorius has a strong arm, above-average speed and above-average range at shortstop. He has drawn praise as a polished fielder who should make the transition to major league shortstop in the future, but needs to cut out some sloppy play to truly shine as a fielder.

Over the past four seasons, the left-handed hitting speedster has shown an ability to make contact with a .273 AVG and is touted as a pure line-drive hitter. Yet Gregorius has also displayed poor discipline at the plate, having a reputation as a bit of a free-swinger.

He rarely walks, with only 77 walks to his credit in the minors, and has a career minor league .322 OBP as a result. There is still hope for development, as Gregorius also rarely strikes out—instead he often puts the ball in play evidenced by only 164 strikeouts in over 1300 plate appearances since being signed.

Aggressiveness at the plate also seems to translate to the base paths with Gregorius. Although touted as a speedy base runner, Gregorius is known to task risks on the base paths—evidenced by a low stolen base success rate of just over 50 percent. With double-digit steals in both 2010 and 2011, Gregorius would do better to learn patience on the base paths if he is to be a threat on the base paths.

Although not considered to have much pop at the plate, Gregorius could likely develop into a valuable contact hitter with solid fielding skills as a major league shortstop. This combination could eventually give Zack Cozart a run for the starting job in Cincinnati.

Given some more work on his hitting skills in the minors this upcoming season, Gregorius could make the majors as soon as September call-ups.

Until he gets the call, it's up to Gregorius to develop as both a hitter and base-stealer while solidifying his reputation as a solid fielder at short.