Sunday, September 26, 2004

Daily Prospect Report 9/26

Joey Gathright, CF, Tampa Bay Rays
Drafted 949th Overall, 2001 Draft, Bonnabal HS, Metairie, LA
Bats L/Throws R
23 YO, 5'10", 170 lbs

I didn't think he was worthy of the Baseball America top 100 prospects list last season. And I may have been a bit harsh. He did show decent on-base skills, carries a good glove, and is a good base stealer. That's more than I could ever say for Tom Goodwin or most of the other speed burners that have come around in the last 10 years. He still has almost no power. And I'd still like to see his SB% climb a little higher and for him to draw more walks. But he could be useful to the right team.

Gathright hit .326/.384/.373 in 236 AAA at bats this season. This was after he hit .341/.399/.397 in AA. He even managed to get 52 major league at bats thanks to injuries to several Devil Ray starters. There, he hit .250/.316/.250, but you can't really draw any firm conclusions from that sample. Obviously, he's a slap and dash waterbug of a hitter who will never hit for any power at all. The skill set has given careers to guys like Juan Pierre and Doug Glanville, so why wouldn't it do the same for Gathright? I think it will, especially with Ichiromania taking the world by storm. He'll never be a star, but at worst, he could be a very nifty 4th outfielder. At best, he could be about what Pierre or Johnny Damon is right now. The Devil Rays like him a lot, but currently, they have no need for him, as Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Jose Cruz Jr did an admirable job in the outfield this season. If they trade Cruz though, that would open up an opportunity for Gathright to become a starter, and this is the kind of scrappy player who seems destined to be a fan favorite.

ETA is early 2005, 2 1/2 stars.

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