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December 13, 2013

Hot Stove Scouting Report

Robinson Cano

by Ryan Parker


See our introduction to the Hot Stove Scouting Report series here.

Player Name: Robinson Cano

Date Filed: 12/1/2013

Throws

Bats

Primary Pos

Secondary Pos

R

L

2B

NA

Swing Breakdown

Easy relaxed swing. Open stance with loose hands. Loads by inwardly rotating shoulders while cocking hands. Hips clear early while upper half stays closed leading to big-time torque. Some of the best hands in the league. Hands can bail out a bad swing to shoot balls out into shallow center or left field. Rotational swing plane with some holes high and inside or low away. Bat speed is solid but not exceptional. Lower half does not fire as aggressively as upper half leading to the occasional swing where the hips slide. Does not get stuck on backside so there are no issues hitting breaking stuff. Very balanced in both swings and takes. As close to a “Griffey” swing as this generation has seen in terms of being smooth and powerful.

Approach

Very aggressive approach without being reckless. Will destroy “get me over” pitches early in the count especially from righties. Pull preference in the infield. If he gets the ball in the air he is a danger to use the whole field. More likely to sit on pitches vs. lefties. If it’s in the zone from righties Cano will put a barrel on it. He will chase pitches north/south and off the plate outside from lefties but only when behind in the count. Strikeouts tend to come from whiffs low and off the plate. Approach stays consistent until there are two strikes. He won’t shorten up; rather he uses his wrists to flick balls foul and wait for a more hittable offering.

Makeup

Love the makeup. Calm and relaxed while maintaining a high level of self-confidence. When close pitches don’t go his way he simply takes a deep breath and maybe asks a quick question to the ump. Never lets the game get under his skin. Steps up when runners are on and is a threat late in a game. Don’t misinterpret the laid-back nature for a lack of passion. Mistakes can frustrate, as they appear lackadaisical. Cano will keep the same face whether he rolls over a first pitch or drives it 20 rows deep.

Breakdown of Tools

Hit Tool

Grade

70

Has the innate ability to put the barrel to the ball even when the swing/timing isn’t precisely on track. Hit tool can be thrown off by high-level velocity. Swing gets stiffer against 94 and above. Leg lift is slow and gradual but against velocity Cano tried several different methods of getting the lower half going. From the sample Cano used a quicker stride, no stride, or starting the whole swing process extremely early. Should always be a .300-plus hitter. Dangerous in any count and any pitch. While the hands are impressive, nearly more impressive is his knowledge of his own zone. It is rare to see Cano overswing on a pitch. When he does let it fly it’s on a pitch he has a good shot to do real damage to. Tracks the ball extremely well thanks to a still head.

Power

Grade

60

Can launch home runs without selling out for power in the swing. Should always end up around 20 HRs. Power also shows up in scorched line drives. Unless approach changes power will degrade first as Cano ages and bat slows down. Even though swing is rotational in nature his bat plane is so flat that his possible home run totals are lowered but his average will remain high. Power grade is raised due to exceptional raw power (see 2011 HR Derby) and loads of doubles.

Speed

Grade

40

Not a fast runner. Runs well enough to not be a liability and occasionally take the extra base. Doesn’t make mistakes on the base paths. Speed is not a big part of Cano’s game. Gets a good first step in the infield but not out of the batters box; 4.4-4.6 to first when he busts it.

Defense

Grade

50

Average due to quick hands. Turns a swift double play. Tends to field balls flat-footed. Makes all the plays he is supposed to. As he ages and slows down defensive grade will lower. Takes questionable angles to balls but quick enough reactions to bail him out. Takes very wide angles on balls to his left. Has a solid first step but doesn’t come in on balls well. Footwork is below average on fielded balls. At times he has to take several awkward chop steps when ranging for balls in order to get his feet under him.

Arm

Grade

55

Strong quick arm. Can make all the throws and them some from second base. Whips ball to first. Arm strength is all arm. Cano is more likely to catch and try to snap a throw to first as quickly as he can rather than take an extra shuffle step. Throws sidearm on all throws. This leads to tailing throws after fielding balls to his backhand side as his arm now slings across his body. Arm could play at third if a team wanted to get creative with positional alignments.

Batting Trends

Date Range: 2013 Season

Splits

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

Batted Ball Percentage

Batted Ball Percentage

GB

LD

FB

GB

LD

FB

10.39%

4.50%

4.20%

9.63%

5.64%

5.98%

Chase Percentage (Out of Strike Zone Swings)

Chase Percentage (Out of Strike Zone Swings)

FB (4/2/SNK)

CB/SL

CH/SPLT

FB (4/2/SNK)

CB/SL

CH/SPLT

32.33%

44.62%

48.39%

32.67%

47.32%

44.39%

Swing/Miss Percentage

Swing/Miss Percentage

FB (4/2/SNK)

CB/SL

CH/SPLT

FB (4/2/SNK)

CB/SL

CH/SPLT

5.29%

14.17%

18.75%

5.41%

11.08%

7.66%

Grades and Projections

Role

Present

Future

Middle-of-the-order threat and perennial all-star.

Should hold production for the immediate future. Long-term concerns include his bat slowing down and becoming too heavy-footed in the field.

Years expected to perform at current level: 2-3

Strengths

Incredible bat-to-ball skills and knowledge of his own hitting zone. Always a threat to knock an extra-base hit. Destroys right-handed pitching. Good enough in the field to stay at second for several more years. Aggressive approach, which needs no correction as Cano hits nearly as well with one strike as he does with none. Health is a non-issue. Has played over 155 games every year for the last seven.

Weaknesses

Cano can lose his approach versus good velocity, as he was inconsistent with his striding pattern. Team hoping the slight struggle with 96 mph at 31 years doesn’t turn into struggling with 93 mph at 35 years. Actions can be stiff in the field and footwork is lacking except on double play balls.

Means of Exploitation

Cano is incredibly tough to attack given the holes in his swing are adjacent to his hot zones and his hands are good enough to generate base hits even when a pitcher throws to those holes. Pitchers can attack high and inside with fastballs but if they miss vertically or horizontally they will pay. The only other location to attack is low and away and these pitches need to be moving away from Cano. This means tailing fastballs from righties or breaking stuff from lefties.

Cano has some struggles by his standards with velocity. Righties need to capitalize on this and continue to pound fastballs because Cano will kill breaking balls at any count if they catch the white of the plate.

Conclusion

Will continue to be a threat in any lineup for the next several years. Can hit anywhere from 2-5 in a lineup. The defense will hold up long enough for Cano to stay at second but he may eventually slide to a corner at the tail end of his contract. The only concern is his ability to handle velocity as he ages and the bat slows down. Aging may take Cano from a .310 hitter to a .285 hitter but there will always be a good amount of doubles and the constant threat to leave the yard. Cano’s stats and peripherals have held constant which in combination with a clean bill of health make him a very attractive target for a team looking for more than a one-year fix.

Ryan Parker is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ryan's other articles. You can contact Ryan by clicking here

Related Content:  Seattle Mariners,  Scouting

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