Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Jimmy Paredes was signed by the Yankees as a 17-year old. The Astros acquired Paredes in the deal that sent Lance Berkman to New York at the 2010 trade deadline. Originally a shortstop, Paredes was moved back-and-forth between second base and third base shortly after starting his minor league career. In August of 2011, after spending only 93 games at the AA level, the Astros summoned Paredes to the big leagues and made him their everyday third-baseman.
Appearing in 46 games for the Astros, Paredes held his own at the plate. (.286/.320/.393) But, at times, the youngster looked lost at the hot corner. His footwork looked a bit awkward and he had a tendency to rush his throws. To me, Paredes looked like an outfielder stuck playing in the infield. I felt like his outstanding foot speed and cannon arm were the perfect combination for the outfield, particularly rightfield.
The Astros had just traded away outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, creating openings for players with the type of skill set possessed by Paredes. But Jimmy had never played the outfield in the minors and the Astros wanted to take a look at guys like Brian Bogusevic and Jordan Schafer. We all know how that little experiment turned out.
Fast-forward to 2012; the Astros finally decide to move Paredes away from third base. But he’s not headed to the outfield! The Astros instead move Paredes to second base to compete with Jose Altuve. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but blocking Paredes behind the best player on the team and giving starting jobs to Bogusevic and Schafer has to be considered one of the worst moves Jeff Luhnow has ever made.
While Bogey and Smokey continued to struggle through the summer, Paredes excelled at AAA. After playing 102 games at second base, and with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Astros finally moved Paredes to the outfield. Better late than never… I guess.
Paredes hit .318 with 13 homers and 37 stolen bases for Oklahoma City, earning a late-August callup. He had played 19 games in centerfield and two games in leftfield since his latest position change. Upon his arrival in Houston,Paredes was promptly inserted into rightfield. So the Astros had wasted an entire year moving Paredes to different positions and still ended up throwing him on the field at a position he had never played.
As could be expected, the results were less than stellar. Although he made a few nice plays Paredes still has a long way to go toward becoming a polished big league outfielder. He also struggled at the plate and one can’t help but wonder if playing an unfamiliar position may have been a contributing factor.
Entering his age 24 season, Paredes is still young. Jimmy stands 6′ 3″ tall and weighs 200 pounds. His lean frame suggests he will add more weight as he gets older. He has already started to show signs of developing some power. Having hit only 13 homers in his first 299 games as a pro, Paredes hammered a total of twelve longballs between Houston and AA Corpus Christi in 2011. Last season he added another 13 homers at AAA Oklahoma City.
I believe Paredes has the potential to become an above-average major leaguer once he settles into a position. His skill set includes good speed, an outstanding throwing arm, and the ability to hit from both sides of the plate. The Astros are a little thin in the outfield, to say the least. A good performance in Spring Training by Paredes could land him a spot on the Opening Day roster. I suppose it’s even possible that he could crack the starting lineup.