No. 29: Shortstop Malquin Canelo
Malquin Canelo really impressed to start the year in 2015 with Low-A Lakewood. He put up a .311/.364/.466 line in 63 games, prompting some to speculate Canelo could grow out of his defense-only profile. Later in the year, Canelo got a second chance at High-A Clearwater after struggling there in limited 2014 action. In another 63 games, Canelo’s line fell to .250/.296/.323 as his strikeout rate rose.
Canelo started the year with the Threshers in poor fashion with a .571 OPS in April. Canelo’s best month came in June with a .274/.319/.357 line that month. His final stats this season nearly mirrored his 2015 High-A stats.
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Canelo finished this season with a 5.9% walk rate and 19.5% strikeout rate. While the strikeout rate is acceptable, the walk rate leaves some to be desired. This is to be expected, with different prospect experts calling Canelo’s approach “raw” and “aggressive and immature.”
With another below-average season at the plate, Canelo’s ceiling is falling. Matt Winkleman of Phillies Minor Thoughts said before this season “Canelo is never going to be an impact hitter.”
Despite his hitting struggles, Canelo can easily fulfill the role of a defensive shortstop.
Canelo’s plus speed gives him great range and he has the arm to make all the necessary throws. It isn’t much of a stretch to say Canelo could pick up third base as well as second, expanding his role from a defensive backup to an all-around player.
The hope remains that Canelo can develop his hit tool enough to be passable in a starting role. However, it doesn’t look probable and it’s likely upper-level pitchers will make him look silly. For the time being, Canelo’s prospect status rides on his defensive ability.