The situation: After hitting .328/.380/.588 with 24 home runs in 92 Triple-A games last season, Gyorko has little more to prove against minor-league pitching. The 24-year-old prospect has made the Padres out of camp and should see regular at-bats from the outset. Ultimately projecting as the club’s everyday second baseman, Gyorko provides more offensive upside than 2012 platoon partners Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista.
Background: A 2010 second-round pick out of West Virginia University, Gyorko has hit over .300 in each of his three professional seasons. He has clubbed his way through the minor leagues, hitting a cumulative .319/.385/.529 in 334 career games. Primarily a third baseman through college and the lower levels, Gyorko appeared in 47 games at second last summer and could remain there long-term. Coming into the 2013 season, Gyorko ranked fifth in the Padres farm system, and number 84 overall in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus.
What he can do: Gyorko’s calling card is his mature right-handed stroke and potential plus hit tool. In the Padres’ offseason top prospects list, Jason Parks wrote that Gyorko has “excellent bat-to-ball ability” with an “easy swing” that is “short and without frills.” He employs an all-fields approach with good bat speed and average raw power. While Gyorko’s defensive profile is a better fit for third base, he’ll play second when Chase Headley is healthy and in the lineup. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound prospect is a fringe-average defender at second with good instincts, but his bat could stand out at the position.
Immediate Big-League future: With Headley and Forsythe both beginning the season on the disabled list, Gyorko will open the year alternating between second and third base. MLB.com’s Corey Brock reported this week that Gyorko will start at second against lefties and at third against righties. Given those injuries, we know he’ll see everyday at-bats for at least a month. But if all goes according to plan, Gyorko should establish himself as a regular member of the Padres’ lineup even after Headley’s projected early May return. —Jason Cole
Fantasy Outlook: The Padres are one of those organizations with multiple affiliates that play in high-octane offensive environments, and Gyorko certainly took advantage of them. He hit .365 with 18 homers in 81 California League games in 2011 and .328 with 24 homers in 92 Pacific Coast League games (where he called Tucson, one of the most infamous hitters’ parks in the minors, home). Those numbers are certainly very exciting from a fantasy perspective, but they’re not reflective of how Gyorko can help your team, both this year and beyond.
It’s a tough transition from some of those offensive environments to Petco Park, but Gyorko is the type of hitter who shouldn’t be affected by calling San Diego home. In fact, with the fences moving in, there’s a chance that PETCO could even play close to neutral for right-handed hitters. Gyorko should be owned in all leagues right now, including shallow mixed, especially while both Headley and Forsythe are on the shelf. Given 500 at-bats, Gyorko has the potential to hit around .275 with 15 homers this season—and the shallowness of both second and third base right now makes him a valuable player. The only thing to keep an eye out for in the short-term is that since he’ll be playing second base only against left-handed pitching (while he slides over to third base against right-handers), it is going to take him longer to gain that second-base eligibility in leagues where he doesn’t already have it. —Bret Sayre