No. 32: Brandon Loy, 2B/SS
Brandon Loy was drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Texas. At the time of his drafting, Loy was in the midst of a long postseason push with the Texas Longhorns, and this delayed his signing a bit to where Loy only got a 17 game cameo in the minor leagues in 2011. In 2012, he was assigned to Class A-West Michigan, where he was moved to 2B (he was drafted as a SS) to allow his versatility to expand, as well as to make room for Eugenio Suarez at SS. He did some good things and some not so good things offensively in 2012, posting a .240/.301/.315/.616 slash line in his first full professional season. He showed that he's willing to work a walk (45 of them), has some decent extra-base power (21 doubles, 5 triples), and that he can also run pretty well (21 stolen bases). To go along with that, however, Loy also showed he has significant swing and miss in his game (119 strikeouts), almost no home run power (only 2 of them), and the low OBP is also concerning.
Loy is heralded for his glove, where he's a plus defender with plus range at either SS or 2B. He also earns 55-60 grades on his arm from SS, with an easy 60 arm from 2B. He has solid speed, and his excellent base running instincts allow that speed to play up in game situations, making him a 10-15 SB threat in the majors. Where Loy lacks, obviously, is with his bat. He has a nice swing, very short and compact, that doesn't have very many obvious holes, but he also has a tendency to expand the zone, which is part of the reason for his high strikeout totals. He has next to zero home run power, but does barrel the ball well enough to have at least average gap power, which is enhanced by his solid speed. I was able to see Loy several times in 2012 with West Michigan, and while he impressed me significantly in the field, his bat left much to be desired. He often swung at pitches out of the strike zone, occasionally making weak contact, but usually swinging and missing. What's somewhat strange though, is that Loy really does control the bat well. He's an excellent bunter and a very good situational hitter. He knows how to move runners, sacrifice bunt, and essentially: he does all of the "small ball" things very well.
I struggle to see Loy as any more than a solid utility player in the major leagues. If his bat comes along, he could find himself as a starting SS somewhere, hitting low in the order, but his value will be almost entirely defensive-based. Don't get me wrong, I think Loy is a nice player, but I don't think he profiles as a full time starter. I just don't see it with his bat. However, he's definitely a guy that would be nice to have on a team, since as we've seen with Ramon Santiago over the years, solid utility infielders can have a major role in a teams' success. Loy shows the advanced defensive skills to be able to be pushed right to Class Double-A Erie in 2013, but I think that the Tigers will probably advance him a single level to High A-Lakeland, where hopefully his bat will come along a little bit (not to mention the logjam of middle infielders vying for time at High A and Double A). I think Loy is a safe bet to eventually make the majors, but in what facet? I'm not so sure right now. Keep an eye on Loy in 2013, it's an important year for him.