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April 7, 2005

by Fabian

Well, that sucked (SG)

Marcos Vechionacci, SS, 18

Making his stateside debut in ’04, this switch-hitting Venezuelan quickly became my favorite prospect. The first thing that caught my attention was how young he was, 17, when the Yankees decided to use him for a game in the FSL due to fallout from a brawl. While being used for one game may not be a big deal, this instance was different as I found it interesting the Yankees would choose to use someone so young for the job. A short amount of research later I became enamored with Nacci as I found out that he hit for average, showed some pop, walked a good amount, and struck out infrequently in the ’03 DSL. In my brief experience with the Yankee program down there I had not seen anyone combine those attributes so well and to make it more perfect, it was done by someone a year younger than ideal for the level.

At this point in his extremely young career, the thing that stands out the most about Nacci is his mature approach at the plate. In ’04, his GCL walk total was only solid, but this is probably more a result of him swinging more often as he was given more pitches he could easily handle, which the above .900 OPS would agree with. For the month that he spent in the NYPL, Nacci was able to amass an impressive 11 walks in 72 at bats while only striking out 13 times. This was not a case of a player benefiting from pitchers who had idea where the strike zone was either. Rather, Nacci would come to the plate and wait for his pitch, not just a strike, but also one he could handle reasonably well and then let loose a line drive swing. At 17 years old he, subjectively, looked like the best hitter on the team, and statistically was just about the most productive. Overall, he did find playing in a league against college draftees more difficult as he could only muster a .361 slugging percentage.

In addition to being a great asset at the plate, Nacci can also get the job done in the field and on the base paths. While not blessed with blazing, or even great, speed, Nacci is somewhat aggressive on the base paths, which allowed him to run up a 5 stolen base to 3 caught stealing total in 131 GCL at bats this past year. While Nacci is slated to open the ’05 season as the SS for the Charleston minor league club, don’t expect him to stay there for his career; he played all around the infield in ’04 (37 games at 3B, 9 at SS, 7 at 2B) and projects as a 3B down the line. Regardless, he is ahead of the game in this department as well since he seems much more sure handed than the typical player his age.

Vechionacci will start next year in Low A and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him end the year in High A due to putting together a great season. More likely, he spends the entire year at Low A and has a solid season as he is already well ahead of schedule. Normally, I would voice concerns I have about his transition to full season baseball, but unless he tires, I have none. He has the type of mature approach that should allow him to adjust quickly and he has yet to demonstrate significant weakness against either RH or LH pitching. The message in all this is that the Yankees have a hugely talented all around player on their hands, and hopefully, they don’t screw this up because he has the look of a “special” player, though it is still way too early to know for sure.

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