I was looking at some of the stats from the Cardinals minor league players recently upon hearing the announcement that Shelby Miller and Matt Carpenter won awards. Miller was voted the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Carpenter received Minor League Player of the Year.
Someone that stood out to me however, was Aaron Luna. Luna was drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 draft out of Rice University. The reason that his stats stood out to me was because of his OBP, and the amount of walks he’s drawn consistently, going back to his college stats. While Luna only hit .270 at AA Springfield this year, his .426 OBP is impressive, along with the 15 HR’s in 319 at bats. The majority of at bats in 2009 were at Palm Beach, where he only hit .253, but had a .374 OBP with 8 HR’s in 186 at bats. Another factor into Luna’s high OBP was the fact that he was HBP 25 times in 2010, 16 in 2009. I’m not so sure that’s a skill though, but then again, maybe it is.
Craig Biggio was famous for getting plunked. He led the league in it 5 times, and was in the top 10 in getting HBP 15 times in his 20 year career. It would be making a huge jump to compare anything Aaron Luna has done to what Craig Biggio done in his soon to be HOF career. But could this be one of those guys who thrive getting on base any way possible, and this will be a trend for Luna? Another guy like this was David Eckstein. He was among the league leaders most years of his career.
It looks like Luna is projecting as a corner outfielder; however, he has played a little second base. He played 22 games at second in 2009, and 6 in 2010, splitting the rest of his games left and right field. His 5’11, 200 lb. frame may be suited for the role. If he stays an in the OF, he may not be a huge piece of the major league pie, but if he sustains success with a patient offensive hitter with some pop, he could be great answer for 2B in the near future.
The reason Luna stands out to me is because of the success guys have that are patient at an early age in their career. It’s rare for a minor leaguer to have walk totals anywhere close to their strikeout rate. In 2010, Luna walked 63 times at Springfield and only struck out 73 times. On paper, it doesn’t appear Luna does anything spectacular, but does a lot of things very well, especially if he could become a 2nd baseman. But that depends on how you value and look at the stats. While it’s a short sample size, I would say that Aaron Luna has the makings to be a solid big league player in the near future if he continues to showing flashes of power and patience.
I may be way off the mark with this one. I don’t follow the minor leagues anywhere close to what Future Redbirds and others have. I do like to look on occasion and look for optimism where I can find it.
I haven’t heard Luna’s name thrown around much, and I just had a peek at the Arizona Fall League roster of the Surprise Rafters and noticed the Cardinals have 7 players on it, but no Luna. I’m not sure exactly what goes into the decision making for that. I heard John Vuch recently on the Bernie Miklasz Show talking about it and some of the players the Cardinals had on it and wanting them to get extra innings and AB’s, but nothing about Luna in any regard.
Matt Carpenter and Daniel Descalso appear to be on the cusp of the big club, and their OBP’s are also impressive. With what the stats are telling me, I think Aaron Luna may be a part of the big club sooner than we think. I curious to see if he continues to put up high OBP and HR totals in the next year or two.
Anyway, if Luna is not a sleeper, it looks like at least he will be a keeper, or a player that might fetch us something in a trade if he keeps it up.