MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wrote about Tommy La Stella and his performance with Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League .. but there was more: more like “hey, this kid could really turn into something.” But there was an interesting line included: “La Stella has been the most-hyped of the eight Braves prospects who have played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in this year’s AFL“.
I find myself bemused at reading this, for I’m trying to recall where that “hype” might have come from. Oh yeah - from blogs like this one.
An unidentified interviewer talks with Tommy in that linked article above, a video you can see at that site. Meanwhile, he’s clearly been racing up the minor league ladder. He’s 24 years old now – 25 in January – so he’s the right age to break into the majors right now. At 5’11″ 185, he’s more-or-less average size for a middle infielder. His offense is not an issue – he’s always batted around .300, OBP’d around .400, and walks more than he strikes out. When hitting, he uses the whole field. In my mind, that’s an ideal #2 hitter… and indeed, he’s been hitting 2 or 3 in the minors for a while.
La Stella has taken a hit from some about his defense, though I personally see him as fundamentally sound – a far cry from the ‘happy feet’ or ‘scrambling’ action that we have seen from Tyler Pastornicky and Dan Uggla. John Sickels, in his review, called his glove “underrated”. It’s also notable that both TomahawkTake and Sickels have La Stella firmly in our Top 10 among Braves’ prospects… that video above from Bowman shows him 14th. No wonder they were late to this party.
La Stella is from Closter, New Jersey… just as far NE as you can get without being in New York City (Closter is a couple of miles from the Hudson River with Yonkers beyond). His High School was practically on the state line in Montvale, NJ. So how did the Braves spot him? It was because he ended up at Coastal Carolina University (Conway, SC). From there, he became the Braves’ 8th round pick in 2011.
So don’t sell him short – La Stella’s just not gonna take ‘No’ for an answer. He could be a solid addition to a fairly undisciplined set of offensive approaches… and hopefully soon.