Editor’s note: John had this piece done well before, right after the draft. However, my work and other such things distracted me and I forgot to put it up. I apolgize. -MJ
I generally don’t follow amateur prospects too much, especially those from the high school level. Without access to numbers, that leaves us only with our eyes. And considering majority of people do not have the ability to actually watch these players play (myself included), that leaves us with only being able to read what other people see. So I generally don’t get too high or too low on a player until there’s actual data for him.
One of my main complaints when it comes to reading about players is people rarely ever talking about a player’s eye and patience. For college hitters, you can check out their BB/K, but that is not the case for high school hitters. You’ll hear the ability to hit line drives and for average, the ability to for power now or down the road, the ability to run fast or play defense, but you don’t hear about two of the most important things for a hitter: Their ability to walk and their ability to not strike out.
This is the same case for the Marlin’s first round pick, Christian Yelich. You hear about his smooth lefty swing. You hear about how he has gap power now but has the size to develop decent home run power down the road. You hear about how he has enough speed to play the outfield, but his below average arm will likely keep him at first base (Jim Flemming has already come out and said they plan to change his throwing mechanics, and that they view him as a future outfielder).
But nothing about his patience at the plate. His “smooth lefty swing” does imply the ability to make contact a good amount of the time, but that didn’t exactly work out for Jeremy Hermida.
That is, until he described himself. Another excerpt from the linked article above:
"Yelich, who grew up a Yankees fan, describes himself as a patient hitter with a relaxed stance.“I try to have a fluid swing,” he once.That patience and ability to draw walks turned him into a leadoff hitter for his high school."
And in another article when asked about where he hits in a line up:
"“I hit leadoff for our high school team because of my walks. I see the most pitches and it gives you the chance at an extra at-bat each game, so it’s kind of nice.”"
Having him describe himself as patient and wanting to see the most pitches, combined with all accolades scouts are giving him, make him a very intriguing pick to me. You certainly want to wait for pro data before crowning him, but I’m a fan of his so far. Unfortunately, from the sounds of it, he won’t be signing until close to the August deadline. If that’s the case, we might not see him until short season league starts in 2011.