By John Perrotto
Beaver County Times
May 28, 2011
It seems almost laughable to write that Ronny Cedeno has been one of the best defensive shortstops in the National League this season.
Cedeno has seemingly been nothing but a constant source of frustration since being acquired from Seattle Mariners in a July, 2009 trade that sent incumbent shortstop Jack Wilson to the Mariners. It has seemed for every spectacular play Cedeno has made because of his outstanding range or strong arm, he has botched two routine plays because of a lack of concentration.
Yet, one-third of the way through the season, Cedeno ranks among the best fielding shortstops in terms of the advanced defensive metrics developed by Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs.
Baseball Prospectus' Fielding Runs Above Average pegs Cedeno as the second-best shortstop in the NL behind Atlanta's Alex Gonzalez. FRAA also ranks Cedeno as the 10th-best defensive player, regardless of position, in the major leagues.
Cedeno scores just a little lower in Fangraph's Ultimate Zone Rating as he stands third among NL shortstops after Gonzalez and Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. Cedeno is the 36th-best overall fielder in the majors, according to UZR.
Thus, it is more than lip service when Cedeno says that he is playing with more confidence than at any time in his seven-year career.
This week's Name to Remember is Class AA Altoona right-hander Tim Alderson, who has adapted quite well to the Pirates' decision to convert him into a reliever this season. Going into the weekend, the 22-year-old was 0-1 with an outstanding 0.94 ERA in 15 games along with 24 strikeouts and six walks in 28 2/3 innings.
Alderson was a highly touted starting prospect when the Pirates acquired him from San Francisco in a trade for Freddy Sanchez in July 2009. However, Alderson went a combined 14-10 with a 5.71 ERA in 34 games, 32 starts, in the Pirates' system in 2009-10, prompting them to try him in a new role in spring training.
Atlanta came to PNC Park this past week and the Braves brought rookie reliever Jairo Asencio with them.
Asencio spent eight seasons in the Pirates' farm system from 2001-08 but it's doubtful anyone remembers him. One reason is that he never got above Class A in all those years. The other is that he was then known as Luis Valdez.
The Dominican Republic native used another person's birth certificate when he signed with the Pirates so he would appear younger. He posed as Valdez for eight years before getting caught in the United States government's crackdown on false identities in 2010.
So Luis Valdez is now Jairo Asencio, truly making him the player to be named later.