Lost in all of the ire directed at anyone daring to suggest that Michael Young belongs in a Blue Jays uniform was Toronto’s signing of first baseman Ryan Shealy to a Minor League contract.
Shealy, 31 years old, is an interesting scrap heap addition, but more because of the team’s situation at first base than anything of his own doing. Assuming that Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion will split time between first base and designated hitter this coming season, the Blue Jays must be at least a little bit concerned that combined, the two have started a grand total of nine games at first base.
Shealy is somewhat reminiscent of former Blue Jays fans cause du jour Randy Ruiz, in that he’s positively raked at Triple A, but has never been able to land himself a consistent chance in the Show. Unlike Ruiz, Shealy’s fielding numbers from his stops in Colorado, Kansas City and Boston suggest that he can also play good defense at first base, something that could give him an edge depending on how Lind and Encarnacion perform at their new position.
In 598 plate appearances over four years at the Major League level, Shealy has put up the following numbers:
7.7 BB%, 27.5 K%, .331 OBP, .424 SLG, .330 wOBA.
Meanwhile, in 1770 plate appearances at Triple A, Shealy collected an OPS of .901 with a walk rate of more than 11%.
That may sound like a guy who deserves a second chance at MLB play, but consider his career split against left handed pitching:
31.8 K%, .262 OBP, .292 SLG, .250 wOBA.
Not exactly an inspiring line, especially if there was any hope of him platooning with Adam Lind, who has also shown a weakness against southpaws.
Another interesting option to consider is that if Encarnacion plays third base to allow Jose Bautista to move into right field, Lind could then become designated hitter, opening up first base for Shealy. But other than that scenario, it’s hard to imagine the Florida native cracking the Jays lineup.