Andrew Aplin is a center field prospect for the Houston Astros. And also, this:
Morgan Ensberg (@MorganEnsberg) August 12, 2015
Andrew Aplin is top 3 of the best CF I've ever seen.— Morgan Ensberg (@MorganEnsberg) September 12, 2013
I love me some Morgan Ensberg. He is the most optimistic dude that I've ever followed on Twitter, and that makes him refreshing.
But hyperbole is hyperbole, and it seems doubtful that, in a world that has center fielders named Mike Trout, Carlos Beltran, Andrew McCutchen, and A.J. Pollock, Andrew Aplin truly is the best one on planet Earth. Wouldn't that be cool, though?
Scouts generally agree that Aplin, a Round 5 selection in the 2012 draft that has to go down as one of the best ever by any major league team, is a wonderful defensive center fielder. He does things like this:
Credit: You Tube and minor league baseball.
Aplin was drafted with the world already knowing of his defensive prowess. What surprised some people is that he was surprisingly competent at the plate, and is a pretty good base runner. Aplin repeated both AA and AAA during the 2015 season, so there's a certain amount of, "He's seen this before," that should be considered. But he batted .343/.458/.448 (160 wRC+) in the Texas League, a notoriously hitter-unfriendly environment, and followed that up with .275/.392/.348 in the PCL.
Aplin will never hit for power in the major leagues - he has nine total home runs during the past two entire seasons, a span of two hundred and fifty-one games. He will never hit for a high batting average and will be fairly dependent on the trickerations of BABIP to even be mediocre in that statistic.
However, Aplin is one of the minor league leaders at drawing walks, which probably explains Ensberg's affinity with the center fielder. Aplin also stole thirty two bases last year, so while he's not a burner like Billy Hamilton, the threat of the stolen base is a nice compliment to his plate discipline. Aplin's skill set is that of a high-floor major league center fielder who could be a competent lead-off man on a second-division ball club or an un-embarrassing fourth outfielder for a playoff contender. That's his floor, which makes him a pretty good player to have in the Astros' pocket.
Aplin will likely be headed back to Fresno for a third stint at AAA, since the Astros outfield is log-jammed with players in front of him on the depth chart. George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Carlos Gomez, and Jake Marisnick are major league center fielders in their own rights, and left Fielder Preston Tucker likely has dibs on the final position due to age and experience. But Aplin is on the 40-man roster, which means he will probably be first man up in the event of an injury or trade. It seems likely that Astros fans will get their first dose of Andrew Aplin during the 2015 season, and then we will see how his patience at the plate and top-tier defense translates to the major leagues.