Signed out of Venezuela as an international amateur free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays back on July 2, 2014, middle infielder Kevin Vicuna has long been a defensive whiz kid in the organization, even while his bat has struggled to produce consistent hard contact. Across the first three years of his professional career, spanning five affiliates at four different levels in the Jays’ system, Vicuna has slashed .266/.338/.302/.640 with just 13 doubles and no home runs across 751 at-bats over 194 games. In 2017 alone, during which Vicuna saw time with short-season Vancouver, Low-A Lansing, and High-A Dunedin, the shortstop appeared in 84 games (323 at-bats) and slashed .269/.322/.303/.625 with five doubles, three triples, 17 stolen bases, 16 walks, and 68 strikeouts.

Exceptional glove work has carried Kevin Vicuna this far in pro ball, and it’s got a shot to carry him all the way to the big leagues, but a below-average arm and a complete lack of offensive tools will ultimately limit his profile even as the 19-year-old (DOB: January 14, 1998) grows into his body and matures in the game. Below, you’ll find our complete 2017 Kevin Vicuna scouting report, including game video, tool grades, analysis, projection notes, and more on the Toronto Blue Jays infield prospect.




Kevin Vicuna, Toronto Blue Jays — 2017 Scouting Report

Dates observed in 2017: August 3-4

TOOL (FV)
NOTES & COMMENTS
Hit (40)
Extremely limited offensive profile. Variable leg kick as part of stride; cuts it down with two strikes in abbreviated approach to protect. Also tends to cut leg kick out at random times without two strikes for no discernible reason. Below-average bat speed, little leverage for hard contact. Decent hand-eye coordination, can adjust to breaking balls and two-strike pitches to put the ball in play on off-balance swings, but only to produce weak ground balls. Overpowered by above-average velocity. Struggles to catch up in the top half of the zone; ground ball swing ideal to hit low balls with some rare ability to turn on pitches down and in with authority. Go high and go hard to render him completely ineffective.

Power (20)
No real power to speak of, as evidenced by a .302 career slugging percentage and no home runs in almost 1,000 plate appearances. Ground ball swing with little leverage; no feel for barrel manipulation. Below-average bat speed. Slight frame, lack of physicality to create leverage. Lacks ability to drive the ball in the air with any consistency. Struggle to see him hitting for any over-the-fence pop in upper minors; slightly below average foot speed and propensity for weak contact will limit his gap-to-gap power, too.

Glove (65)
Exceptional feel for fielding the shortstop position. Range to both sides with good lateral quickness despite sub-par foot speed. Ease in fielding both on forehand and backhand; glove makes him look like a natural defensive shortstop even with frail frame and lack of physicality. Quick reactions off the bat; extremely soft hands and nuanced feel for running in on the ball. Works very well around second base. Glove is not only his best tool by far, it’ll ultimately be his carrying tool.

Arm (50)
Average arm strength at best, which may be slightly generous. Despite nearly double-plus glove, likely won’t have the arm strength to play shortstop in an everyday role for too much longer. Lacks velocity behind throws, merely average carry and accuracy. Lean, frail frame doesn’t provide physicality to get much momentum behind his throws, either, and it’s unlikely he picks up significant arm strength through development. Arm (and body type) would be more of a fit at second base, or in a utility role.

Speed (45)
Slightly below average foot speed on the bases; had him 4.34 – 4.37 out of the RHH box. Choppy first few steps out of the box, takes a second to stride out and get to top speed. Very smart baserunner, pays attention to pitchers and has put up decent steal numbers by learning pickoff moves and how to pick his spots; to that end, perhaps his speed will play up some as he develops. In the field, very good lateral quickness and range at shortstop; good first step and quick reaction times to balls off the bat. Covers defensive ground despite stature.

Intangibles
Gritty player by virtue of his body type and role; should fit nicely into a utility job because of his gamer attitude and competitiveness. Will ultimately have to re-prove himself at every level because of such significant question marks surrounding his physical stature and offensive profile, but there’s no question this kid can field like a big leaguer. Good hustler, hard worker; mature for his age after being thrown into challenging environments across his first few pro campaigns.

Kevin Vicuna Scouting Report, Toronto Blue Jays — 2017 Game Video




Kevin Vicuna Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

Few minor leaguers I saw this year are more glove-first (or more accurately, glove-only) than Toronto Blue Jays middle infield prospect Kevin Vicuna. The Venezuelan shortstop undoubtedly has the glove to play Major League Baseball, and enough arm strength to ultimately stick at second base, or in a utility role, but the prospect’s bat will forever remain a question thanks to a poor approach, poor results, and an inability to hit the ball with the authority you need in an everyday player. That doesn’t mean Vicuna will wash out in the upper minors; I believe his glove is good enough to be a true carrying tool, and he’ll get big league time simply by virtue of the fact that he’s such a good defender. But it does mean he will forever struggle to carve out consistent playing time in The Show if he can’t produce even modest offensive totals — which I believe will prove unlikely barring major changes in his swing and some serious physical growth over the next few years. Whether that manifests itself as a true utility role off the bench, or an up-and-down emergency call-up role at floor, we’ll see in time.

kevin vicuna scouting report toronto blue jays baseball 2




Kevin Vicuna Scouting Report — Future Projection

The Toronto Blue Jays tested Kevin Vicuna this year, ultimately sending the 19-year-old to High-A Dunedin to begin the season. And while he failed at the plate there, and eventually was demoted to Vancouver and later Lansing, I don’t think there’s any question about Vicuna’s glove being good enough to play in the upper minors now, let alone in 2018. His bat is what will ultimately limit him. Vicuna need not be a power hitter, of course, but he’s so remedial at the plate right now that he’ll struggle to legitimately earn an everyday role in the big leagues without some significant improvements, and to that end, I believe he’s likely to wind up a utility/bench guy who can play across the infield, with a floor below that as an extremely good AAAA infielder with occasional call-up potential.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Defense-first bench/platoon middle infielder; floor as up-and-down depth (42.5)

MLB ETA: 2020




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