Orioles Stock-Piling First-Basemen Named Aubrey

In a move that might have been exciting a few years ago, the Orioles have acquired first-baseman Michael Aubrey from the Cleveland Indians in return for a Player To Be Named Later (PTBNL). Aubrey was drafted in the first round in the 2003 Draft, and was considered a pretty good prospect. Unfortunately injuries have taken a toll on his development, and at the age of 27 he still has only 45 major league at bats to his name. Aubrey was designated for assignment before the season, though nobody picked him up. Across two levels in the minors last year (AA and AAA), Aubrey hit .281/.329/.428 with 9 home runs in 388 AB. In those 45 major league at bats he it .200/.280/.333, though the walks were mildly encouraging. His walk rate of 10% was above the league average and the easily the highest it’s been since a 10.7% in 59 plate appearances back in 2007 in High A Ball. He didn’t chase very many pitches out of the zone (just 14.9% compared to a league average of 25.4%) but I think that was mostly a result of him not swinging in general (36.6% swing percentage compared to an average of 45.9%) and not necessarily a particularly good eye at the plate. He was also below average defensively at first (-13.4 UZR/150 games) though that too is in a very small sample size. On the bright side – he doesn’t strike out very often, K’ing in just 13.4% of his at bats in the minors in ’08 and 11.1% in the majors.

Coming into this year, CHONE had Aubrey projected as a .252/.300/.393 hitter with slightly below average defense (-4 runs), and the other projection systems were largely in agreement. I don’t think they’d change much either, given his .292/.322/.448 performance in AAA thus far in ’09. He apparently comes with the reputation of having a good glove, but I wouldn’t put faith in him being much above average. Aubrey just doesn’t hit enough to play first-base everyday in the majors, but I like him OK as far as organizational depth goes. We’ll see who the PTBNL is, but assuming it’s no one important (or even possibly nothing at all), this is a relatively insignificant, though fine, move.