Yonder Alonso’s 35 grade speed and my own shortcomings

I don’t look at the 40-Man Roster nearly enough. There are all sorts of weird, interesting, and completely useless pieces of information we can glean from each one of those guys we call Padres.

Without giving the 40-Man Roster a thorough examination we would never know that 30% of the fellas call either California (Brad Boxberger, Robbie Erlin, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, Tommy Medica, Carlos Quentin, Will Venable) or Texas (Burch Smith, Huston Street) the place of their birth.*

*Perhaps this is not information that you need but it helps substantiate claims that California and Texas are factories for the assembly of ball players.

The 40-Man will also reveal three men who, inexplicably, carry first names beginning with the letter Y (Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Yeison Asencio).

Eric Stults is the oldest player and the only Padre born in the 70s (12/9/79) while Adys Portillo is the youngest (12/20/91), just a little less than a fortnight away from being born in 1992.*

*These are the other youngsters born in 1991: Keyvius Sampson, Reymond Fuentes, and Rymer Liriano

New acquisition Josh Johnson is the tallest at 6’7″ and Kyle Blanks is the heaviest at 265lbs. Johnson, at 250lbs, is tied with Yonder Alonso for the next heaviest guys on the team. When I think of Kyle Blanks and Josh Johnson I think of big powerful human beings whose girth is justified through the utility derived from their mass. Yonder Alonso? Not so much.

I often wonder about Yonder Alonso. Besides being the man who escaped Cuba at a young age, stole 13 bases during his sophomore season at the University of Miami, and received a 35 grade for his speed on the 20-80 scouting scale in the 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook . . . who is Yonder Alonso?

I’m sorry but I have to go back to that 35 grade for speed.

In 2010 Baseball America rated Alonso the #2 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system and slapped him with a well-below-average running grade when his listed weight was 215 lbs. Yonder Alonso now weighs 250 lbs. If scouts were to put Yonder on the clock today his grade would probably be lucky to come in above 30. Shortcomings – we’ve all got ’em.

Thinking about Yonder Alonso’s 30 grade speed forced me to assess myself.  A moment of reflection forced me to literally examine my reflection in the bathroom mirror and the patchiness on my face that barely qualifies for a beard. In the month of November, when men’s health is pushed to the forefront of our minds, I arrive at a stark realization . . . that on the 20-80 scouting scale, my facial hair on the best of days, is 35 grade.

But the difference between Yonder Alonso and myself is that I’m stuck on a 35 grade. While the stout Cuban might use plyometrics during the off-season to improve his fast twitch muscle fibers there’s little I can do to bring myself in line with my heritage as a descendent of the Kodiak brown bear. I could shave twice a day, once against the grain, and my plight would be the same – patchy 35 grade scruff.

It must be an empowering feeling to recognize inherent personal flaws and to then transform one’s self through great travail. I however, will never know the feeling of triumph over such adversity. To use the parlance of talent evaluators throughout the world, my beard is what it is.

Yonder Alonso may have 35 grade speed but his beard is a solid 60 – and with some hard work, and a little* luck, he might just start hitting with plus power like the 2011 edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook prophesied.

* A lot.

In what area(s) of life do you carry the stamp of 35 grade? Go ahead and share . . . you’ll feel better.


I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly outraged by the location of statues around Petco Park. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com

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  • Lonnie Brownell

    “…and received a 35 on the 20-80 scouting scale in the 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook…”

    I take it you meant to add “for speed” in there somewhere. Either that, or the Reds had a pretty poor crop of prospects on 2010, if he was #2 in their system with that overall score. Unless they meant the other meaning of #2.

    As Geoff Young pointed out on Twitter this morning, Yonder is 9 for 9 in steals in the MLB. Which means he is very selective about when to bust out that 35-or-less speed. Which is, I reckon, how you can emulate his success with your beard: Display sparingly.

    As for his power, I’m fine with him being a line-drive machine with lots of doubles/some HRs, as he was before his hand got all hurt. If he can’t do that…then, um…Medica? Blanks? Bueller?

    • Yes, for speed. I went back and clarified it in that sentence. And Bueller? Bueller?

    • ballybunion

      The thing to remember about the 2013 Yonder Alonso is, THE SOPHOMORE JINX. Alonso was on track for a big improvement over his first full year, but was derailed by two hand injuries, one in June, and another in August.

      I look for a bounce back in 2014, taking heart from Ted Williams’ own sophomore jinx. His homers dropped from 31 to 23, his RBI dropped from 145 to only 113, his slugging slid from .609 to a measly .594, and his walks dropped from 107 to 96. His third year, Williams bounced back to 37 homers, 120 RBI, walks went up to 147, his slugging soared to .735, and he even hit .406!

      Will Yonder do the same? Well, maybe not THAT well, but I expect him to get back on track. I also expect him to be as good as Ted Williams was at stealing bases: when it happens, you rag on the pitcher and/or catcher responsible.