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November 8, 2006

by Fabian

Eduardo Nunez, SS, 19
Previously Ranked: 7th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus #14, Baseball America N/A

Physical Ability: Eduardo Nunez is your prototypical toolsy shortstop, or so he was lauded prior to the opening of the 2006 season. He is seen as having above average, at least, tools across the board with power being the most average. His strongest tool is his throwing arm.

What Happened in ’06: As I feared in my rankings last offseason, Nunez was overwhelmed starting the year in the Florida State League. His raw offensive performance was horrid, but upon hearing of his demotion to the South Atlantic League, I was optimistic about how his season would conclude. The reason for my optimism was that Nunez had been playing with a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .197, which is about .100 points about where it would normally be expected to lie. It seemed that Nunez’s luck was bound to rebound, which coupled with facing lesser competition made for a recipe for breakout. Unfortunately, this was not the case as Nunez posted a higher batting average, but his secondary skills further deteriorated as he hit for just about no power. In addition to performing terribly on offense, Nunez was a negative on the defense end. Despite having well regarded defensive tools, Eduardo has yet to turn this into defensive production. For every spectacular play he made, there was an inept one. He especially struggled on not throwing the ball at max effort on each play.

What Lies Ahead: I expect Nunez to open the season starting at SS for Charleston. Though he is still very young, his 2006 season was very damning for him in my eyes. While statistics below the full season A ball level should always be regarded with a ton of skepticism, it is worth noting that prior to 2005, Nunez had not hit at any level. In fact, the only reason he was in Staten Island to begin that season was because injuries had forced the Yankees hand in regards to his development. Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult to find ANY silver lining in Nunez’ struggles in 2006. He did not control the strike zone at either level and this offensive approach resulted in him struggling to hit the ball in play to the opposite field with any strength. In addition, Nunez was adept at popping the ball up.

Grade: Nunez still has the physical ability that wowed observers a year ago, but there is some worry on my part that these tools may not translate seeing as they have done so only 1 year out of the last 4, offensively. Defensively, the huge amount of errors is scary, but I do have some confidence in him. He is a prospect with an exciting ceiling, but at this point, the chance that he reaches it seems small and is shrinking. C

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