Baseball America released their list of the best tools in AAA on Tuesday morning. Alen Hanson was picked as the best defensive second baseman and Elias Diaz was named the best defensive catcher in the International League. While the article is on BA, the voting is done by managers and coaches from the league.
Diaz shouldn’t be any surprise, as he is rated as one of the top defensive catchers in the minors. He was voted the top defensive catcher in the Eastern League last year. Diaz has thrown out 31% of runners attempting to steal this year, which is where he was at last year. In 52 games, he has three passed balls and six errors.
Hanson might be a surprise to some due to his documented troubles at shortstop, but his issues were never skill related. He had all the tools to play shortstop, including above average range, but he usually had issues on the routine plays. If he had too much time to think about the throw, you usually knew something bad was about to happen. On plays where skill took over and he had no time to think, then he could look like a future Gold Glove shortstop.
Putting him at second base means you have a skilled shortstop making shorter throws. His arm strength at shortstop was considered average, so it plays better at second base. He still had a little trouble with the throws last year after his move to second base, but he has just eight errors this year in 92 games after four in 17 games at second base last year. According to Ryan Palencer, who covers Indianapolis for us, his defense has been solid all season.
Last year, Baseball America put out the AAA tools one day, AA the next, followed by High-A and Low-A the next day. We will update this article and push it to the top when others are added, depending on their schedule.