Monday, May 10, 2010

Pringle to play alongside Wilver Perez?

With the loss of shortstop Bret LeVier, the Seals are looking for a middle infielder to start next to All Star Wilver Perez. After seeing the Seals' spring training roster, it appears that Eric Pringle might have the inside track on the job.

First off, Pringle has the most professional experience out of any of the new additions to the spring training roster who can play second base or shortstop. Although he went undrafted and has never played in affiliated minor-league baseball, he has spent most of the last five years in the Golden Baseball League and he has also appeared in 30 games in the Northern League. Pringle's best year was in 2007 with the Chico Outlaws, where he hit .281 with two homers and 36 RBI in 71 games. Most impressive was his 21 steals and .407 on-base percentage. 

Throughout his pro career, his most impressive offensive attributes have been his speed and his ability to draw walks. Last year, the 27-year-old Pringle hit only .193 for the St. George Roadrunners, but he still managed to contribute with a .311 on-base percentage. In his five years in independent baseball, he is a career .241 hitter with an on-base percentage of .345.  Obviously, he's patient at the plate.

Although Pringle can play both shortstop and second base, he has had more success at second. His defensive statistics are adequate at shortstop, but below Bret LeVier standards. However, he has a career .978 fielding percentage at second, which is actually higher than Perez's career fielding percentage at that position in affiliated minor-league baseball. Given those numbers, if Pringle makes the team as a starter I wouldn't be surprised to see him play second base and Wilver Perez slide over into the shortstop position.  Pringle projects as a number eight hitter in the Seals' batting order (the DH has been eliminated for 2010, so the pitcher will be batting ninth).

Another factor in Pringle's favour is that he's Bret Boone's kind of ballplayer. Pringle has good speed and has stolen 53 bases in his 349 games in independent baseball. Boonie has said that he'll have his team running the basepaths aggressively and putting pressure on the defense and Eric Pringle sounds like he just might fit the bill perfectly.