Friday, June 03, 2005

Jose Bautista Report

Jose Bautista, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Drafted 599th Overall (20th Rd), 2000 Draft, Chipola (FL) Junior College
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'0", 195 lbs

Picture for a moment that it is December of 2003. You are Jose Bautista. You just finished up the year in the HiA Carolina League. You missed most of the season with a broken hand. When you did play, your batting average was way below your career norms. Admittedly you only had approximately 650 career at bats before that season, but they came in at just below .300. You've demonstrated good walk rates and gap power to go with a good glove and some athleticism. You just turned 23 a couple months ago and the organization has told you that they like you a lot. They don't have any other serious third base prospects ahead of you. And they have some pretty fungible players on the 40 man roster. As a result, you aren't thinking about the Rule 5 draft coming up. They'll surely add you to the 40 man roster and keep you around. Right?

Wrong. The Pirates left him off the 40 man roster and Baltimore snatched him up, starting him on a bizarre journey that took most of 2004 to sort itself out. He played for 4 Major League teams, none of them particularly good. He didn't play well as he was clearly in over his head. He was put on waivers, claimed, sold, and then traded for Justin Huber, a much better prospect.

MLB Career (2004): .205/.263/.239, 3 2B, 0 HR, 7 BB, 40 K, 88 AB
pre-2005 mL Career: .287/.385/.452, 51 2B, 24 HR, 119 BB, 200 K, 846 AB

This season, he's in AA, where he should have spent last year in the first place. He's playing reasonably well given that he's missed the better part of 2 seasons. He's back to walking, though not at the rate that he showed in the lower minors. His isolated slugging is also down.

Bautista has some talent. He demonstrated some skills early in his career. And the scouts still like him. He lost a lot of development time though and is now at the point on the age curve where he needs to start moving through the high minors. His ceiling probably looks something like Mike Lowell, though I wouldn't bet the house on that. The chances are better that he becomes an ordinary AAA guy.

ETA: Late 2006
2 1/2 Stars

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