Earlier this week, the Yankees claimed San Diego outfielder Chad Huffman off of waivers. The outfielder will play for AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. I’d never heard of Huffman before, so I thought I’d take a closer look at his numbers and see what the Yanks are getting.
A second round pick in 2006, the right-handed Huffman’s had a successful minor league career; his career minor league OPS sits at .859 (.385/.474). According to Paul DePodesta of the Padres, Huffman can control the strike-zone well and could be a good Major League hitter (h/t RAB). Via the River Ave. Blues post on the waiver claim, Huffman can hit fastballs well, but has trouble with the breaking ball. This may make us think of Huffman as being a possible Shelley Duncan part two. I disagree.
Though they have similar walk rates–11.41 for Huffman, 10.89 for Duncan–Huffman’s struck out less–17.72%–than Duncan, who struck out in 21.33% of his Minor League PAs. So, it would seem that even if the breaking ball gives him a little trouble, Huffman does an okay job at avoiding strikeouts, considering his seemingly good batting eye (aforementioned OBP/BB%), good contact skills (non-alarming K-rate, MiL BA of .289), and solid power (.474 SLG, .185 IsoP).
In the minors, Huffman has shown more prowess against lefty pitching (.915 OPS) but hasn’t struggled against right handed pitching (.840 OPS) and in 2009, he actually had a reverse platoon split. He OPSed just .639 vs. lefties, while crushing right handed pitchers to a .903 OPS.
Is it likely we see Huffman in the Bronx any time soon? Not really, no. However, I could definitely see him getting a shot if he continues his solid hitting in the International League and Marcus Thames ends up struggling.