Saturday, May 21, 2005

Kevin Kouzmanoff Report

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Drafted 168th Overall (6th Rd), 2003 Draft, University of Nevada
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 200 lbs

Kouzmanoff was a third round steal in 2003. He's been terrorizing pitchers in the lower minors ever since being drafted. He's old for his competition, but the numbers can't be ignored.

2004 Lake County: .330/.394/.529, 35 2B, 5 3B, 16 HR, 44 BB, 75 K, 473 AB
pre-2005 mL Career: .309/.374/.498, 44 2B, 7 3B, 25 HR, 67 BB, 116 K, 703 AB

He's at it again, lighting up the Carolina League to the tune of .359/.411/.648 in his first 142 at bats. The only potential warning sign in the numbers is that his strikeout rate is up a tick this season. Overall though, he's always made good contact. He has more of a line drive bat than a real Mike Restovich kind of slugger's power. On the other hand, if doubles grow into home runs, then he might be in business. That goes to projection though, and it's something I'm uncertain about. Traditionally, late bloomers like Kouzmanoff have low ceilings, and while he doesn't look like a future MVP candidate, if he can turn some of those doubles into home runs, it could mean the difference between becoming Joe Randa with a shorter career and being something a bit more.

Kouzmanoff is reasonably athletic. He's an average defensive third baseman. He's also not a base stealing threat while not being a liability there either.

Kouzmanoff has to move quickly in order to have a real chance at a career, and he's in a good organization for that. He should make it up to AA by midseason, and at that point, Jake Gattreau is the next roadblock in his way. The Indians have suffered from injuries (Matt Whitney) and disappointment (Corey Smith) from their third base prospects in recent years. That's left them with the shell of Aaron Boone starting for them at the hot corner this season and Casey Blake being the alternative. The team moved Blake to the outfield though, after enduring some bad defense from him in 2004. So Kouzmanoff has open field ahead of him. If he can hold onto the hot bat he's carrying, his ceiling looks like Eric Hinske in one of his good years.

ETA: Late 2006/Early 2007
3 1/2 Stars

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