Thursday, September 08, 2005

J.J. Furmaniak Report

J.J. Furmaniak, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Drafted 649th Overall (22nd Rd), 2000 Draft, Lewis University
Bats R/Throws R
26 YO, 6'3", 190 lbs

I'm writing the J.J. Furmaniak prospect report because in the words of Bill Simmons, it needs to happen. It has to happen. He's not all that as a prospect, but he has some upside as a utility infielder. He's as good a bet as anybody in baseball to be a fan favorite. He's a scrappy, dirty uniform white guy who has some pop in his bat, a pretty decent glove in the field, and a catchy name. I watched him a few times this season and I had no clue who he was or where he came from at first. I'll admit it. I'm not ashamed. I had no idea that the guy existed and I thought that the name had to have been a joke. It wasn't a joke.

Here's another reason why I need to write this report. He's a fellow GLVC alum. He's from Lewis University while I'm a graduate of THE University of Indianapolis. Also of note, he was the minor leaguer that the Pirates got in return for sending David Ross to San Diego.

2005 Portland: .266/.324/.437, 16 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 28 BB, 86 K, 9 SB, 5 CS, 387 AB
2005 Indianapolis: .288/.315/.410, 5 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 32 K, 5 SB, 3 CS, 139 AB
2005 Total: .272/.321/.430, 21 2B, 7 3B, 16 HR, 32 BB, 116 K, 14 SB, 8 CS, 526 AB
2004 Portland: .294/.348/.489, 24 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 33 BB, 86 K, 8 SB, 5 CS, 425 AB
MiLB Career: .275/.345/.430, 133 2B, 31 3B, 63 HR, 241 BB, 564 K, 65 SB, 2476 AB

There's a lot of data up there. It tells you a couple of things. First, he's a pretty decent hitter for a minor league shortstop, but not somebody who is going to develop into a first rate major leaguer because of the age and middle of the road plate discipline. Any shortstop who can consistently post AAA slugging percentages in the mid .400's can at least give you replacement level work at the ML level. One thing to watch is the contact rate. He struck out a lot this season, which can't help his batting average at the next level.

Defensively, he's average at shortstop, showing steady hands and more range than you'd expect out of a guy this tall. He did make a couple of nice plays when I saw him in Indy. He made a nice game-ending leaping grab on a smoked line drive that showed good reactions. I'd be interested to see if they can turn him into a true utility player by teaching him to play the outfield. If they can do that, they have a poor man's Rob Mackowiak on their hands, only with the ability to play a credible short. Maybe that's more like a really rich man's Willie Bloomquist. At any rate, he's already a better player than Bloomquist. And Mackowiak is probably his ceiling on offense.

ETA: Whenever the Pirates Get Around to Calling Him Up
2 1/2 Stars

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