When the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Stryker Trahan in the 1st round in 2012, they loved his bat and were prepared to exhibit patience with him in order to turn him into a catcher. That patience has run out, as the team has announced that Trahan will now be a left fielder, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.
Now a year-and-a-half after being selected, Trahan still has yet to make it to full-season ball, largely because of his deficiencies behind the plate. Trahan hit .254/.328/.462 with 10 hme runs in the rookie level Pioneer League last season after staying in extended spring training to work on his defense before being assigned to an affiliate. With that concern out of the way, Trahan should begin the 2014 season as the starting left fielder for the Low-A South Bend Silver Hawks.
But there is still concern for Trahan. His move from behind the plate to a corner outfield position greatly diminishes his potential value as a player and puts all of the onus on his bat to carry the weight. That bat, while loaded with power, is far from refined. Trahan struggles with quality off-speed stuff and pitch recognition, causing his plus natural power to be deflated during game action. There is still time to improve in this facet, but the challenge will only get harder as he moves up the organizational ladder.
What this does for Trahan, however, is speed up his path to the majors. Instead of being a two-part developmental package, the Diamondbacks only have to worry about the progression of Trahan's bat. Trahan is an average runner with a body type that will thicken and slow down over time more quickly than others, making him an average left fielder at best. No longer will the Diamondbacks have to wait for his glove to catch up to his bat. Trahan still needs plenty of at-bats in the minors, giving his left field defense more than enough time to get to an adequate level. For better or worse, Trahan's development now resides solely on his ability to hit.
Trying to make Trahan into a catcher was going to be a long process. The move to give up on this project doesn't necessarily signify a lack of patience on the part of the Diamondbacks so much as an admittance that one, it wasn't going to happen, and two, if it did it happen it would only delay the arrival of his bat in the majors. Trahan was likely going to need a full season at each minor league level, slowing down what has already been a lethargic progression through the low minors. Now that he's in the outfield, the Diamondbacks can move Trahan along as quickly as his bat will allow.
Trahan still has a lot to prove, and his ceiling has been lowered because of the abundance of left fielders who can hit 20-25 home runs the way Trahan projects to. What this move does, however, is allow Trahan to focus on the one thing he does best, hitting a baseball very hard.