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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

WTNY Mailbag: Kotchman And Weaver, Oh My

WTNY has a mailbag column concerning his recent 1-75 top prospects series. Regarding Weaver:
My knowledge of these players mostly stems from two years worth of the College World Series, but thanks to Rich Lederer, I feel like I have a handle on Weaver more than anyone else. I have argued with Rich a lot about Weaver’s ceiling, which will be dependent on his fastball velocity and strength of his slider. Control is not a problem at all for Jered, and he could probably immediately step in and have some of the best on my top 75. If pressed I would likely put Weaver somewhere in the 25-30 range, between Gavin Floyd and John Danks.
And regarding Kotchman:
I think [Casey] Kotchman is a bit of a lost prospect at this point. Is he Sean Casey or Todd Helton?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Actually, either way, I think the Angels would be happy. Or maybe not the Angels, maybe whatever team they trade him to. It’s hard to see the Angels resolving their glut at first base by moving Darin Erstad, a 2004 Gold Glove winner, and the love of Mike Scioscia’s heart. Instead, Kotchman will be resigned this season to either landing in some Juan Rivera/Tim Salmon platoon in the DH spot, or to continue raking in the Pacific Coast League. You think Dan Johnson and he are friends?

Anyway, on to your question of comparison. His numbers look pretty similar to Helton’s, my reservations about Kotchman’s power developing make him sound like Casey (for both, I linked to their Baseball Cube account in the question). If you want more possible comparisons, people have thrown out both Will Clark and Mark Grace in the past, but still, I don’t find any of those to be quite perfect. One thing I look for in a comparison is what type of school the player was drafted from, college or high school. All four veteran players were collegiate athletes, while Kotchman started pro ball in his teens.

So, I think I’ve found the comp that I’m happy with, despite not having his minor league numbers on hand: Keith Hernandez. Both struggled as 21-year-olds in the Majors in a little over 100 at-bats, and come with good defensive reports. Keith started his greater-than-100 OPS+ streak the next year (which I think Kotchman could do), and did not stop until he was 35: fourteen straight years. His peak years, ages 25-27, all included 140 OPS+ years, a number Eric Chavez has yet to approach.

The only problem with this is that Casey doesn’t yet have the plate discipline that Hernandez had, only totaling 31 walks all season long. If the Angels preach this, then Kotchman can be like Hernandez, if not, then I’m not sure.


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