Baltimore Orioles Minors Monday: Middle-infielder Ruben Tejada
In June of 2017, the Baltimore Orioles purchased the contract of Ruben Tejada from the New York Yankees.
His first appearance in a Baltimore Orioles uniform was on June 7. For most of June, he moved around between the middle infield positions and third base, filling in as needed.
Then, when J.J. Hardy broke his wrist, Tejada took over at shortstop until the trade deadline when Tim Beckham was brought over from the Tampa Bay Rays to fill the spot permanently.
Tejada continued his time with the Orioles in the minor league system. Then, he was given his free agency. On November 28, 2017, he was one of the first free agents signed by the team, although he was signed to a minor league contract.
How Tejada got to Birdland
Tejada is 28-year-old from Panama who made his debut in the Major Leagues with the New York Mets in 2010. The Mets signed him in 2006 at age 16 and he moved his way through that minor league system until 2016. He played in the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants organizations in 2016. Then, he was dealt to the Yankees where he played on their Triple-A team before the Orioles purchased his contract in June of 2017.
Tejada has played in eight Major League seasons, although he has never played in more than 119 games. Offensively, his best year was 2012 with the Mets. He batted a slash of .289/.333/.351. He is clearly a contact hitter and has only hit 10 home runs and one triple in the MLB career.
Over his career, Tejada’s Major League slash has been .251/.325/.318. He gets on base, but relies on others to move him.
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Representing the old-school shortstops
At 5’11, 200 pounds, he is representative of the old-school contact-hitting middle infielders. They are now being replaced by bigger, power-hitters like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and now, Manny Machado. Although Francisco Lindor is the same size as Tejada, he hit over 30 home runs in 2017. Unless Tejada can change his approach at the plate, he will continue to be a minor league player.
Tejada plays a clean defense without the panache of the men he replaces. His career WAR is 3.8 and he usually hovers right around 0.0 – meaning that he is a neutral player. At shortstop with the Orioles in 2017, Tejada’s range was 3.92, just a few points below the league average of 4.09. For comparison, Beckham’s range in his time with the O’s was 4.52. In 2017, Hardy’s range was 4.20.
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Tejada is what he is, a capable minor league player who can handle an occasional call-up. It’s good to know that he’s there, just in case.