Eric Stamets is moving up.
UE’s former star shortstop, drafted in June 2012 by the Los Angeles Angels organization, will start this season with the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League.
The San Bernadino, Calif.-based club starts its season Thursday.
As of Monday, Stamets wasn’t listed on the 66ers’ official online roster. But the 6-foot, 185-pound gloveman tweeted he was on the road to California.
Stamets played 62 games last season for the Angels’ former low-A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, posting decent numbers (.274/.323/.347 with 1 home run and 7 stolen bases) as the team’s every day shortstop. Earlier this year, Stamets earned an invite to the Angels’ big-league spring training, where he scored a pair of runs in four games played.
Stamets is listed as the Angels’ 17th-best prospect. He’s known best for his speed on the base paths and defense.
“It can be hard to find a middle infielder in the Draft who can actually stay at shortstop, but Stamets is one of those rare breeds,” writes Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com’s draft and fantasy expert. “He has plus range in the field to go along with good hands and enough arm to stay at the position. The Evansville product can also flat-out run, with plus speed that makes him a legitimate basestealing threat.
“There are more concerns about his offensive ability. Stamets does make contact, but he has very little power of any sort, using more of a slap hitter approach. It seemed to work just fine for him during his pro debut in the Midwest League.”
This season figures to be a pivotal one for Stamets as he looks for more power offensively.
Before heading to spring training, Stamets had this to say:
“I’ve been working to expand as a hitter – just become more of a gap-to-gap guy more than a slappy singles guy,” he said. “Obviously when guys come in the league, they’re going to have to adjust because what you did in college isn’t necessarily going to work at the next level.
“So that’s basically what I’ve been working on, but I’m always, always refining my defensive skills. You’ve got to keep practicing what you’re good at and work up from there.”