In parts of 2 seasons at AA Wade's been pretty consistently putting up some really impressive numbers--especially in terms of his ability to manage an at-bat, work deep into counts, draw walks, and make contact.
In 150 games as the leadoff hitter during the previous 2 seasons at AA here are Wade's stats:
661 PA - 545 ABs - 160 hits
.294 avg - .398 obp - .810 ops
22 2B - 4 3B - 12 HRs
93 runs - 82 RBI - 13 SB
96 BB - 82 K
Speed (50) – Wade is an excellent athlete and has 55-60 grade top end speed, but he takes a few steps to get to that speed, meaning he’s likely not ever going to be a great base stealer, but he does very well on the bases taking an extra base once he’s at full speed.
Defense (55) – Wade has tremendous instincts in the outfield. That has allowed him to handle center field to this point in his minor league career, but he would likely be better suited in a corner spot, probably left field to suit his arm, and he could be an elite defender at that position with his instincts.
Arm (45) – While Wade’s arm is below-average in strength, his instincts on defense are not limited to just getting in position on the ball to make a catch. He also has great instincts at getting himself in position to be behind the ball and able to make an accurate throw, so while his arm isn’t the best, he does get himself into good position for throwing, which helps to cover it somewhat.
Wade seems to project to be able to play all 3 OF positions defensively at an above-average to elite level.While his lack of arm-strength will mean that in a perfect world he plays a CO spot, we've seen players like Ben Revere and Denard Span have pretty good success in CF despite a lack of arm.The defensive versatility is nice and he's an extremely high IQ fielder with really good speed and defensive instincts with above average/to better than thatpotential as a CO.You can count on 1 hand the number of errors Wade has made over his minor league career.
Further, while he's never going to be a big base stealer, stealing bases is only one way of generating positive value on the bases.Wade doesn't have a great couple of first two steps supposably, but he's a great baserunner who will be able to take extra bases and add value that way.
Wade project to be somewhere between average and elite defensively at all 3 OF positions and has speed to be able to generate positive value running the bases.Offensively, he's got one of the best eyes seen in the Twins system in quite awhile.At AA, Wade's 162 game pace is 104 BBs and a borderline .400 OBP.
He doesn't have a ton of power by any means, but for a guy that gets on base does it really matter?The most immediate comparisions of former Twins that I can think of compared to LaMonte Wade are Denard Span and Robbie Grossman.Both have extremely good eyes and get on base a ton to make up for their lack of power.Wade is much much better than Span thus far in his minor league career than Span was, although Span was younger. Although it's also fair to say that Span, especially early on, was a better MLB player than a minor league player.
Neither player stole a ton of bases despite some speed although Span was probably faster, but Wade seems to have more power. Span struggled to hit the ball out of the infield.
As a hitter Wade compares more similarly to Grossman seemingly in terms of offering a little bit more pop past the in field.
Grossman's minor league slash line was .270/.380/.392/.772 compared to:
Wade'sminor league slash line is .294/.398/.412/.810
So Wade is a better hitting version of Grossman--especially average-wise--or at least projects to be. He also might have a little bit more potential than Grossman to drive the ball--although it remains to be seen how that ability carries at the major league level.
Approach at the plate, batter's eye, and BB/K%'s translate as nicely as any metric to the MLB from the minors.If Wade can offer a 13-15% walk rate similar to Grossman in the majors and Wade's minor league track record that would put him near the top 10 in terms of BB%.His minor league K% would put him near the top 10 in terms of least strikeout prone batters in the MLB.
Wade might not be able to replicate those numbers that strongly, at least not right away, but he's definitely gonna be one of the hardest Twins hitters to get out easily and get on base as much as anyone not named Mauer on the team.
Further, he's going to offer positive base-running value, speed, and OF defense.Wade is old for AA at 24, but his slow progression through the minor leagues is towards no fault of his own--his numbers of basically held steady throughout each level of his minor league career.Further a late start at rookie ball at 21 means he's a little bit older, but not because of a lack of minor league success.
Ceiling: Adam Eaton lite -- Adam Eaton's 162 game averages in his MLB career are .285-.360-.780 with 105 runs-31 2B - 10 3B - 11 HR - 57 RBI - 17 SB.
This line compares decently well to Wade's 162 game AA averages of .294-.398-.810 - 100 runs - 25 2B - 5 3B - 13 HR - 90 rbis - 15 SB
Eaton's numbers are anchored by a slow first two seasons and he's an even better player than that now.I don't think Wade's hit tool is that good, but I think his eye could be better. He might not get those kind of XBH totals, but I think he could have a higher OBP.
Middle Projection :It really seems like Denard Span with a little bit less base-stealing ability and average, but more walks/obp and power is a pretty good comp for Lamonte Wade--this seems like a pretty realistic projection.
Floor: A floor does seem to be a better defending, faster, Robbie Grossman--but a better defensive and faster Robbie Grossman probably isn't a 4th out fielder.
Guys like Lamonte Wade are the kind of guys that fall through the cracks because they don't do anything flashy, but are simply really good baseball players that take really good ABs, get on base a ton, and make a lot of positive impact plays.It's not at all s
I think that while there's a chance he does top out as a 4th outfielder, those labels seem to limit a guy that is a relatively safe bet to be more than that. His bat only needs to be Robert Grossman level's to really be a starting or borderline starting caliber player for some team with the baserunning and defensive value he provides.I would argue there's a lot of reason to believe the bat is a notch above Grossman's which in my mind would make him pretty comfortably a major league caliber starter.Even if his power numbers resemble Denard Span's that's a guy who can start for some teams.
Wade should definitely be promoted to AAA pronto, it's a little confusing why they are holding this guy back as they are.Once Wade gets ABs and is successful at the AAA level, the Twins should look to call him up after the all-star break.He's about as good of a backup OF as you can get with his ability to play solid to plus defense at all 3 positions, take consistent quality ABs, and get on base in bunches.
Where Wade fits long term in an extremely crowded Twins OF it remains to be seen.The Twins, understanding Buxton's durability issues, would really benefit from carrying a player in Wade's mold to spell all 3 OFs and to be able to step in if injuries happen.Grossman for large stretches of these periods has played this role and gotten ABs because of his ability to take quality ABs and get on base.Wade is Grossman, but in upgrade in just about every area.Grossman has also played a decent chunk of games at DH over the previous two seasons.You could DH Wade, but the better strategy would be to let Wade play 2,3, 4 games in the OF a week spelling one of the outfielders and moving them to DH or Buxton to the bench.Wade is a defensive upgrade to both Kepler and Rosario. Further, he adds speed and obp to a lineup that could benefit from a guy who can do both of those things.
Regardless of how the Twins decide to get Wade involved in their lineup he'd be a perfect leadoff hitter, again on a team without a natural leadoff hitter.Even if Wade is unable to replicate his minor league successfully, if he is able to hit .270-285 and get on base .370-.400 and provide plus defense he'd be a great piece added to the Twins roster that they don't currently have.He's not a highly ranked prospect because this kind of production isn't sexy or flashy, but it's underratingly valuable.Especially on a Twins team full of extra-base hit machines who are much more medoicre at getting on base at a high rate.
Imagine the amount of times him and Mauer would be on base at the top of the order for the run producers.
I think there's a better chance that many Twins fans and people in the organization give credit for that Wade puts up these kind of numbers either for the Twins or another major league team.I get the frustration by Twins management at the lack of big power or extra base hit numbers, but I'm not sure it's gonna matter with the kind of contact skills that Wade offers--the power would be nice...but there's value there regardless.