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After hitting .338/.385/.516 in the 2014 season and taking the organizational Hitter of the Year award, things got out to a slow start for Kyle Waldrop as he returned to Double-A Pensacola for 2015. In the first week of the season he would hit .250 with one extra-base hit and one walk. The rest of the month would continue to be a struggle as he wouldn’t get a multi-hit game under his belt until April 29th, his 18th game of the season. He would finish up April with a .242/.271/.394 line to go with just two walks and 22 strikeouts in 70 plate appearances.
May got out to a much better start for the outfielder. Waldrop would catch first in the first two weeks, hitting .373 and slugging .667, but he walked just one time in 54 plate appearances and had 12 strikeouts. Things would slow down in the final two weeks of the month. The Florida native would hit just .246/.281/.328 over the last 14 games with three walks and 16 strikeouts to put his monthly totals at .304/.331/.482 with four walks and 28 strikeouts. The walk rate remained incredibly low, but the power began to show up as he smacked 12 extra-base hits on the month.
Over the first two weeks of June the left handed hitter hit .317/.383/.463 in 47 plate appearances with five walks and seven strikeouts. The walk rate and strikeout rate were both strong in that time. The next week saw him slump, going 4-23 (.174), but he was promoted to Triple-A Louisville after the 21st. In five games to end the month with the Bats, Waldrop went 5-20 (.250) with a walk and two strikeouts. For the month he would hit .262/.315/.345 with seven walks and 13 strikeouts.
The first week of July got out to a solid start as Waldrop hit .261 in seven games with two doubles and two walks. Over the next five games he would go 0-20 with six strikeouts. The final 11 games of the month didn’t get too much better as Waldrop would hit .244/.256/.268 with 10 strikeouts and a walk. The month was a struggle as he would post a .442 OPS in 23 games with three walks and 24 strikeouts.
August would get out to a nice start for Waldrop as he would make his Major League debut on August 2nd as a pinch hitter. It would be his only appearance in the big leagues this season as he returned to Louisville and was back in the lineup on the 6th. His return could have gone better as he went 1-32 (.031) in his first nine games back. In the final three weeks of the season he would improve some, hitting .232. In the final stretch of the season he would post a .420 OPS with just three walks and had 28 strikeouts.
The 2015 season was a major step backwards for Waldrop from the year before. His walk rate dropped from an already low 7.2% to 4.0% from 2014 to 2015. That also came with an increase in strikeout rate from 18.5% to 24.3%. Both of those things likely led directly to a big drop off in power output as he slugged just .338 on the year.
Hitting | Waldrop has a slightly below-average hit tool, but his pitch selection doesn’t let the tool play up to that level.
Power | Despite the drop off in power output he continues to show above-average raw power with 25 home runs not being out of the question. Like the hit tool, his pitch selection didn’t let his power play up to that level.
Running | Waldrop is a fringe-average runner. His speed plays fine in the field.
Arm | He’s got a below-average arm that is more suited for left field or at first base.
Defense | He has spent time in both corner outfield spots and at first base. Left field or first base seem like the best fits defensively. In left field he’s a fringe-average defender. At first base he’s still learning the position and has work to do before he’s ready to play there every day at the big league level.
Plate discipline has been an issue with Waldrop since he signed. In 2014 he seemed to take a bit of a step forward in that regard, though there were still some concerns that more advanced breaking balls could give him trouble. All of the work that he did in 2014 to put together such a strong season seemed to go away in the 2015 season. He became far more aggressive at the plate. Pitch recognition is going to make-or-break Waldrop as a hitter. The transition to Triple-A and advanced pitching exploited his weaknesses in that area. He also struggles against left handed pitching. He may be limited to a platoon situation in the future, perhaps getting time in the corner outfield spots of at first base every now and again. The power is nice to dream on, but until his pitch identification improves, he’s not going to get the most out of his bat.