César David Izturis
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 155 lb.
- Debut June 23, 2001
- Final Game September 29, 2013
- Born February 10, 1980 in Barquisimeto, Lara Venezuela
César Izturis, the half-brother of Maicer Izturis, was signed in 1996 by the Toronto Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent (the scouts were Emilio Carrasquel and Mike Russell). He struggled mightily for the 1997 St. Catharines Blue Jays (.190/~.240/.216) while splitting second base and shortstop with future star Michael Young. In 1998, César was with the Hagerstown Suns and led the South Atlantic League's shortstops in fielding percentage (.951) and put-outs (183) with Young moving to second. Izturis hit .262/~.296/.305 with 20 steals in 29 tries. He hit .305/~.335/.422 for the 1999 Dunedin Blue Jays with 12 triples, 77 runs and 77 RBI. He stole 32 but was caught 16 times. His 17 sacrifice bunts tied Henry Mateo for the Florida State League lead and he was sixth in the circuit in average. He played mostly short, but moved to second at times in trading spaces with Young. Surprisingly, Baseball America rated him as the top defensive 2B in the FSL and Young the top shortstop though those were the opposites of their primary positions. Izturis made the league All-Star team at SS and was rated the 5th-best prospect in the circuit.
César skipped AA to play for the 2000 Syracuse SkyChiefs. One of the league's youngest players at age 20, he was rated as having the top infield arm in the International League according to Baseball America He led the IL's shortstops in double plays (87), put-outs (231) and fielding percentage (.981) and was 16 assists behind leader Jimmy Rollins' 411. His offense (and lack thereof) was another story as he hit a feeble .218/.253/.278 and was thrown out in 11 of 32 steal attempts. For the first time in his four years in the Toronto system, he had a new double-play partner, primarily Brent Abernathy. After the season, Baseball America put him down as the #3 prospect in the Jays system.
In 2001, Izturis hit .292/.310/.374 for Syracuse and .269/.279/.388 in his big-league debut with Toronto. Overall, he stole 32 in 42 tries. He made the IL All-Star team at short. That December, he was dealt with Paul Quantrill to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Luke Prokopec and Chad Ricketts. He batted a weak .232/.253/.303 for the Dodgers in 2002 with only 7 steals in 14 attempts, drawing attention primarily for his glove. He improved slightly in 2003, batting .251/.282/.315 and had a good season for a shortstop in 2004 at .288/.330/.381 with 25 SB in 34 tries, 9 triples and a Gold Glove. He was second in the National League in outs but was fourth in triples and sixth in hits (193), plus he scored 90 runs. In 2005, Izturis slipped to .257/.302/.322 but still made his first All-Star team in the majors. On September 16th, he ended his season and had Tommy John surgery by Dr. Frank Jobe for arthritis in his right elbow. He hit .252/.302/.353 for the Dodgers in 2006 then was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for Greg Maddux right before the All-Star break. He hit .233/.282/.260 in 22 games with the Cubs.
After a .246/.298/.304 line in 65 games for the Cubs in 2007, Izturis was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 19th for a player to be named later. He hit .276/.310/.333 in 45 games for the Pirates but Jack Wilson got hot at that time, forcing Izturis into a utility role. Pittsburgh unsurprisingly did not pick up his $5.45 million option for the next season. The St. Louis Cardinals signed him for $2.85 million over one year with incentives. He hit .263/.319/.309 in 2008 for a 67 OPS+; two positives were 24 steals (in 30 attempts) and a .980 fielding percentage (third among NL shortstops).
The Baltimore Orioles signed the free agent in December 2008 for $5 million over 2 years. The Orioles had suffered a horrendous lack of production from their various shortstops in 2008, making the signing of a reliable performer like Izturis an imperative. Izturis then played for the Venezuelan national team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Primary sources: 1998-2006 Baseball Almanacs
- NL All-Star (2005)
- NL Gold Glove Winner (2004)