J.T. RIDDLE, SHORTSTOP
|Born: October 12, 1991
Drafted: 13th Round, 382nd Overall, 2013 (Marlins)
How Acquired: Free Agent
College: University of Kentucky
Agent: Meister Sports Management
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Miami drafted Riddle as a potential utility player, but he impressed enough with his glove that he became more or less a full-time shortstop. He played semi-regularly for the Marlins at short in 2017-18, then moved to center after returning from an injury in 2019. He has an above-average arm and good range, grading out as a little above average at short by UZR. In his limited sample size in center he was below average. At the plate he generally makes contact, but has little patience and only modest power. He’s never done well at getting on base and has been an especially prolific out-maker in the majors. He’s had only a small platoon split in the majors. His speed is average and he’s not a base stealer. The Pirates signed Riddle to a major league deal for 2020.
The Marlins used Riddle mostly at third in the New York-Penn League, giving him only a few games at second and short. He didn’t hit or get on base much.
Miami moved Riddle mostly to short in low A, although he still started 35 games at third and a few at second. He hit better, with decent gap power, but he should have done well as a draftee from a major college program at that level. Baseball America rated Riddle 17th in the Marlins’ system, in large part due to good reviews of his defensive work.
Riddle split the season between high A and AA, along with one game in AAA. He played short exclusively. He hit for a decent average in high A, but almost no power, and he also seldom walked. The Florida State League probably didn’t help. He did better in AA, showing some power but still not taking many pitches. BA rated him 22nd in the Miami system.
Riddle spent most of the season in AA, with a late promotion to AAA. He played mostly short, but got a fair amount of time at second and a little at third and in the outfield. He hit as before, with modest gap power and a slightly better walk rate than usual while he was in AA. BA rated him 21st in the system.
The Marlins sent Riddle back to AAA to open the season, but they added him to the 40-man roster and called him up for a week in April. He came back up in May, but went out for the season in July with a shoulder injury. He played short exclusively at both levels, but didn’t get on base or hit for much power in the majors.
Riddle missed the early season due to shoulder surgery, but eventually returned to the majors in late May. He was more or less the regular shortstop after that. He showed a little more power than before, but didn’t get on base much.
Riddle opened the season in the majors, but started off 5-for-32 and Miami sent him to AAA in mid-April. He returned to the majors in June and took over in center. At both levels he showed a little power but had very low OBPs. He went out for the year with a forearm strain in mid-July. Miami removed him from the 40-man roster after the season and he became a free agent.
The Pirates’ decision to give Riddle a major league contract is puzzling. He’s essentially identical to Erik Gonzalez, except he may offer even less offensive upside. Neither has an option left, so both will have to be on the opening day roster unless one is waived or traded. With Guillermo Heredia and Luke Maile also likely to be on the team as backups, the Pirates figure to get almost no offense from their bench.
UPDATE: Riddle had a terrible time at the plate in the shortened 2020 season and didn’t play especially well in the field, either. The Pirates designated him for assignment at the end of the season when they claimed Sean Poppen.
|Signing Bonus: $100,000
MiLB Debut: 2013
MLB Debut: 4/11/2017
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/18/2016
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2017, 2018, 2019)
MLB Service Time: 3.119
|June 7, 2010: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 35th round, 1073rd overall pick.
June 8, 2013: Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 13th round, 382nd overall pick; signed on July 3.
November 18, 2016: Contract purchased by the Miami Marlins.
December 2, 2019: Designated for assignment by the Miami Marlins and became a free agent.
January 31, 2020: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 1, 2020: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.