XAVIER PAUL
CENTER FIELDER
  Born: February 25, 1985
Height: 5′ 9″
Weight: 205
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: 4th Round, 121st Overall, 2003
How Acquired: Waiver Claim
College: Slidell (LA) HS
Agent: Paragon Sports Management

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates claimed Paul off waivers when the Dodgers designated him for assignment.  He was out of options and LA needed to find room for hot prospect Jerry Sands.  Paul profiles as a fourth outfielder.  He’s a good outfielder with plus speed and a very strong arm; he threw 94 mph as a prep pitcher.  He played mostly center in the minors but appeared in only one game there with the Dodgers.  He’s gradually improved his ability to hit for average and has some gap power, but he doesn’t have the power to start in a corner and his plate discipline is marginal at best.  He’s had pretty good stolen base totals in the minors, but his success rates have generally been mediocre.  He’s had significant platoon splits in the minors and in the majors has just a .360 OPS against LHPs in 57 plate appearances.

2003
R+:  307/384/489, 264 AB, 15 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 34 BB, 58 K, 11-15 SB 

Had strong debut in the advanced rookie Pioneer League, which is a tough assignment for an 18-year-old.  Baseball America ranked him as LA’s 7th best prospect after the season.  He ranked in the teens and twenties in subsequent years.

2004
A:  265/342/407, 460 AB, 26 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 54 BB, 124 K, 1-16 SB

Paul hit respectably as a 19-year-old in low A.  He struck out a lot, more than once every four ABs.

2005
A+:  247/328/392, 288 AB, 15 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 32 BB, 81 K, 1-6 SB 

Paul moved up to high A and regressed a little.  He also missed about a third of the season due to injury.  He continued to walk at a decent rate but to fan in over a quarter of his ABs.

2006
A+:  285/343/430, 470 AB, 23 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 38 BB, 114 K, 22-37 SB 

Returning to high A, Paul hit better and cut his K rate a little, but his walk rate also dropped.

2007
AA:  291/366/429, 422 AB, 22 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 48 BB, 112 K, 17-26 SB

In AA, Paul continued improving despite being in a pitchers’ environment.  He increased his walk rate but his K rate went up a little, too.

2008
AAA:  316/378/463, 443 AB, 28 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 43 BB, 96 K, 17-24 SB 

Paul hit very well in AAA, although the numbers have to be discounted some due to him being in a hitters’ park in a hitters’ league.  He cut his K rate to a little less than one every four and a half ABs.

2009
AAA:  328/378/500, 116 AB, 10 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10 BB, 22 K, 8-10 SB
MLB:  214/313/500, 14 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 K, 0-1 SB 

Got called up early in May, but went on the disabled list late in the month due to an infection and missed the rest of the season.

2010
AAA:  325/384/579, 228 AB, 20 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 18 BB, 41 K, 7-10 SB
MLB:  255/292/346, 121 AB, 8 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 8 BB, 24 K, 3-4 SB 

Spent a little under half of 2010 in AAA and had outstanding numbers, although Paul’s age (25) and the hitting environment have to be taken into account.  His plate discipline was just OK.  Paul played in the majors for much of May and all of July, starting semi-regularly and pinch-hitting.  He didn’t do terribly well.  He went 0-for-9 as a pinch hitter.

2011
MLB (LAD):  273/273/273, 11 AB, 5 K
MLB (Pgh):  254/293/349, 232 AB, 6 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 13 BB, 57 K, 16-22 SB 

Paul went 3-for-11 with the Dodgers before the Pirates picked him up on waivers.  He replaced John Bowker, which may be an indication of Clint Hurdle’s preference for speed and defense on the bench.  If so, it’s an ominous sign.  He ended up starting a quarter of the Pirates’ games, partly due to injuries and partly because Hurdle seemed to like having him in the lineup at times for some reason.  His hitting was nearly identical to 2009, including poor plate discipline.  He stole 16 bases in 22 tries.  Paul was one of the Pirates’ two main pinch hitters, the other being Matt Diaz, and he was utterly hopeless in the role, hitting 093/114/140, with 21 whiffs in 43 ABs.  He looked badly overmatched against hard-throwing late-inning relievers.  His PH OPS was lower than the collective OPS of the Pirates’ pitchers.  He also frequently appeared as a defensive sub in right.

Paul’s skill set almost exactly duplicates Alex Presley’s, except that he has a much stronger arm.  Since Presley hit very well and Paul has hit very little as a major leaguer, it’s difficult to see a place for him on the team.  His complete inability to pinch hit is especially harmful, because it’s a vital function for a fourth outfielder.  The Pirates desperately need to fill their backup outfield spots with players who can provide some offense, especially since their projected corner outfield starters, Presley and Jose Tabata, don’t figure to have much power.  If they need a speed-and-glove guy in the outfield, they can call up Gorkys Hernandez.  That’s evidently how they saw it, as they designated Paul for assignment in order to clear space for Rule 5-eligible prospects.  This is the second time he’s been waived, so he’ll be able to choose free agency.  Given the factors just mentioned, it seems likely he’d do that.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2012: Minor league contract
2011:
$419,500
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $270,000
MiLB Debut: 2003
MLB Debut: May 7, 2009
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2016
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2007
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2008, 2009, 2010)
MLB Service Time: 2.041
TRANSACTIONS
June 3, 2003: Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 4th round, 121st overall; signed on June 11.
April 18, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Los Angels Dodgers.
April 26, 2011: Claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 18, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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