Coyle's hot start to the season is making a future in Fenway Park seem more and more likely.
Boston Red Sox pint-sized second baseman Dustin Pedroia has proven that good things can come in small packages, as evidenced by the 2007 Rookie of the Year and 2008 American League MVP awards earned by the 5’8”, 165-pound infielder.
Now the Red Sox have another tiny terror coming up through their system in prospect Sean Coyle, who is playing like he is the organization’s next rising star.
The 21-year-old Coyle (5’8”, 175 lbs.) is also a second baseman. While he’s a ways away from possibly playing in the majors, he has been one of the most feared sluggers in the minors this season and is establishing himself as one of Boston’s best prospects.
As the team's third-round draft choice in 2010 out of Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania, Coyle and the Red Sox came to terms on an extravagant $1.3 million signing bonus, according to SoxProspects.com.
He had a modest start to his career with a .248 batting average, 23 home runs, 127 RBI and 36 stolen bases in his first two seasons (plus three games in the Gulf Coast League in 2010). He reached High-A Salem last year, and was solid, but unspectacular.
This season has been a different story.
While Coyle is once again playing for Salem, the ball is rocketing off his bat. In 19 games, the right-handed hitter is batting .300 with nine home runs and 17 RBI. He has also thrown in six stolen bases for good measure.
His numbers could have been even more inflated except he has missed over a week of the season with various nagging ailments.
Coyle told WEEI’s Alex Speier that he credits a revamped swing for his early-season success:
I guess my power really kind of took off this spring when I stopped swinging with my shoulders and my body and started realizing how to swing with my hands and keeping my head still. That’s the cause of the consistency of squaring some balls up, I think. Keeping my head still and using my hands instead of my entire body has made me quicker to the ball and more consistent.
Speier also explains why Red Sox fans should be impressed with Coyle’s start:
Take into account the fact that the Carolina League in which Coyle plays remains one of the most unfavorable run-scoring environments in the game, that Coyle’s home park in Salem is considered a graveyard for would-be homers and the fact that, at 21, Coyle still remains very young for his level (the average age of position players in the Carolina League is closer to 23) and it makes for a pretty remarkable start to the year.
ScoutingBook.com lauds Coyle for his line-drive hitting style and above-average speed while describing his defensive ability as being “a bit of a tweener, with defense that projects as adequate at several positions but great at none of them.”
Speier reported that the Red Sox drafted Coyle so early because they believe he is capable of having “20-30 home run potential in the big leagues.” Such production is rare from second basemen.
When Coyle first signed, Baseball America’s Jim Callis wrote that the youngster projected to be a “second baseman in the mold of Brian Roberts.” However, in light of the power he has shown early in his career, it’s evident that he could be much more than that if all goes well.
With Pedroia being one of Boston’s best players and signed through the 2014 season (with a good bet to be offered an extension), there is no obvious place for Coyle. However, talent always finds a way to reach the majors, so if Coyle continues his rapid development, there will be a place in the big leagues for him when the time comes.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference