Sunday, March 20, 2005

Landon Powell/Kurt Suzuki Report

Landon Powell, C, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 24th Overall, 2004 Draft, South Carolina
Bats B/Throws R
23 YO, 6'3", 235 lbs

Kurt Suzuki, C, Oakland Athletics
Drafted 67th Overall (2nd Rd), 2004 Draft, Cal State Fullerton
Bats R/Throws R
21 YO, 6'1", 200 lbs

You've no doubt heard about these two catchers. They're premium draft picks, and A's prospects straight out of central casting. Powell has been on the draft radar for a half decade now, pioneering the draft loophole that Jeremy Bonderman later successfully used to become a draft eligible high school junior. He went to South Carolina, and scared teams off with his bonus demands and poor conditioning despite putting up good offensive numbers. He only became a first round draft pick through a lot of hard work getting himself in shape and by making very reasonable salary demands, receiving a 1 million dollar bonus. After ballooning to 260 pounds in college, he's still a very big guy for a catcher, and while a 6'3", 235 pound catcher can be an imposing figure for baserunners sprinting towards home plate, that mass takes a toll on the knees and back.

Defensively, he's well above average and should be especially adept at nailing runners. Offensively, he's the kind that's likely to be on the fasttrack through the minors with power and patience.

2004 Vancouver: .250/.374/.383, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 25 BB, 20 K, 128 AB

He also hit .328/.423/.612 with 19 home runs and a 45/41 BB/K ratio as a college senior. I've tried for a few days to come up with a good comp, John Buck comes to mind as he's a good defensive catcher with big power. Ramon Castro works as an offensive comp, but his defense isn't particularly impressive.

Suzuki is another polished college catcher with a good bat and some defensive chops. His skill set is different though. He has nice plate discipline like Powell, but he's more of a line drive spray hitter while Powell is your traditional three true outcomes slugger. He's different behind the plate as well, with most of his defensive value coming from good footwork, and agility.

2004 Vancouver: .294/.388/.441, 10 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 17 BB, 25 K, 11 HBP, 170 AB

His college numbers were even better than Powell's. .413/.511/.702 with 17 doubles, 16 homers, 49 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 252 at bats is impressive, but it is mitigated by CSF's home park, which is a great place to hit a baseball. I don't like to really use short season numbers, which is why I don't review many players with less than half a year of experience in A ball. I'm especially wary of college stats. You just can't rely on them. Still, I like these two players a lot and wanted to review them. I'm not the only one that likes them. The 2004 A's draft has received praise from statheads and scouts alike, and these two are a big part of that. With Huston Street, Richie Robnett, Dan Putnam, and Jason Windsor, they form a nice group of prospects.

Of these two, I think Suzuki is the slightly better prospect on the basis of his being 2 years younger. Suzuki will likely start the year in the Midwest League while Powell spends his time in the California League. Both will move quickly as long as they perform.

Powell
ETA: Late 2007
3 Stars

Suzuki
ETA: Early 2008
3 Stars

Update: A few hours after I posted this article, I heard the news that Landon Powell had torn his ACL and is out for all of 2005. This of course pushes his schedule back a year and casts a long shadow over his career.



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