Saturday, April 09, 2005

Josh Willingham Report

Josh Willingham, C/1B/LF, Florida Marlins
Drafted 491st Overall (17th Rd), 2000 Draft, University of North Alabama
Bats R/Throws R
26 YO, 6'1", 200 lbs

He's a hitter, pure and simple. He's not a bad defensive catcher, but not a particularly good one either. He's also blocked at the position by Paul LoDuca. The Marlins also blocked his other main position when they signed Carlos Delgado to be their first baseman. They've toyed with play him on an outfield corner, though he has exactly the kind of footspeed that you'd expect from a catcher, so range will probably be an issue there as well. His bat deserves attention and playing time.

2004 Carolina: .281/.449/.565, 24 2B, 24 HR, 91 BB, 87 K, 18 HBP, 338 AB
mL Career: .272/.412/.493, 101 2B, 72 HR, 306 BB, 379 K, 1506 AB

He obviously has some power and a lot of patience. He's an OBP machine. If you're a team like Tampa, wouldn't YOU want a chance to spot a bat like that in at catcher, DH, first, and left field on an everyday basis?

The comps run from converted catchers like Matt LeCroy and Craig Wilson to general bat-only thumpers like Erubiel Durazo and Dmitri Young. I know I'd rather carry around Willingham than a stiff like Juan Encarnacion or an overpaid, aging Jeff Conine. The argument for now is moot as Willingham will start the season as an Isotope. Any sane team should be clamoring for him at some point this season. While he's not a good defender anywhere, his defensive versatility combined with his bat should provide a pretty valuable player given a manager willing to be creative with his lineups.

ETA: Any Day Now
4 Stars

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