For all 2016 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out one a day over the offseason).
James Vasquez was selected out of Central Florida in the 25th round of the 2015 draft as a college senior. The Cincinnati Reds sent the then 22-year-old to the rookie Arizona League. The first week of the season got out to a real slow start for the first baseman as he went just 2-17 with two walks. The first game of the second week was a big one though, as Vasquez went 2-5 with two home runs. He would go 1-7 over the next two games to finish up the month of June.
July got out to a slow start as well. Over the first four games the left hander went 0-12 with two walks and two strikeouts. Everything began to click after that. Vasquez ran off a 10 game hitting streak over the next two weeks where he would hit .486 with five doubles, a triple and two home runs to go along with 12 runs driven in. His last game of July would see him go 3-3 with a triple and a walk, finishing the month with a .396/.439/.679 line to go along with seven walks and eight strikeouts.
The hot hitting carried forward into August. In the first week of the month he would have four multi-hit games, including another game with two home runs, hitting .350 on the week. The second week was even better as Vasquez racked up hits in all six games he played, including two more home runs (hitting .400 on the week). The third and final week of August (the season ended before the month did) saw the first baseman get hits in all five games played, going 8-15 (.533) with three doubles, a home run and four walks. In 16 games on the month, James Vasquez hit .417/.470/.800 with six walks and 10 strikeouts.
James Vasquez Scouting Report
Hitting | Vasquez has an average-ish hit tool, but his pull happy approach and speed may cause issues at the higher levels if he doesn’t make adjustments.
Power | He’s got above-average power potential, with 20-25 home runs in the future not being out of the question.
Running | He’s a below-average runner.
Throwing | His arm a slightly below-average, but as a first baseman that won’t come into play.
Fielding | He’s a solid defender at first base.
James Vasquez has about as strong of a debut as one can possibly have, posting an OPS of 1.084 on the season. The big caveat there is that he was 22-years-old and playing in complex level baseball against mostly teenagers. He was expected to perform and he absolutely did. His best tool is his raw power that started to show up this year. He never hit more than eight home runs in a college season, but topped that with nine in just 142 plate appearances after being drafted. As a first baseman, the power is going to need to be his calling card. With how often he pulls the ball, he took advantage of it as he obliterated the ball to his pull side.
His pull tendencies, particularly as a left hander, could cause his hit tool to play down at the upper levels if he can’t make adjustments to keep defenses a little more honest. Being limited to first base could cause problems within the Reds organization as he’s very likely to be blocked for a long time at the position.