Friday, September 16, 2005

Rick Ankiel Report

Rick Ankiel, OF/LHP?, St Louis Cardinals
Drafted 72nd Overall (2nd Rd), 1997 Draft, HS, Port St Lucie, FL
Bats L/Throws L
26 YO, 6'1", 215 lbs

I trust that anybody who is reading this blog knows the Rick Ankiel story. Brilliant young left pitcher whose command (which was never his strong suit to begin with) completely deserts him on national TV, he struggles in the minors for a while, has Tommy John surgery, attempts to come back, shows signs of life but the same old problem keeps coming back time and time again. He wants a fresh start and becomes an outfielder. And here we are.

2005 Quad Cities: .270/.368/.514, 10 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 27 BB, 37 K, 185 AB
2005 Springfield: .243/.295/.515, 7 2B, 10 HR, 10 BB, 29 K, 136 AB
2005 Total: .259/.339/.514, 17 2B, 1 3B, 21 HR, 37 BB, 66 K, 321 AB
MiLB Career: .262/.337/.532, 18 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 49 BB, 94 K, 455 AB

That's an interesting line with essentially a full minor league season of data. It's pretty obvious that he'll turn on a cripple pitch. He's also flashed some hints of plate discipline. On the other hand his plate discipline waned in the Texas League and drug down his batting average along with it. He was way too old for the Midwest League so he should have been putting up numbers with Quad Cities. On the plus side, in the interviews I've read, he seems to have a solid understanding of hitting, emphasizing swinging at good pitches and laying off junk outside the zone.

Ankiel is a unique case in all respects. As a pitcher he's unique in that he's all given us hope a dozen times and then crushed that hope with a repeat of his problems. He has talent but monumental flaws. As a hitter, he has decent numbers, but you have to balance his age with his inexperience. I honestly don't think he has the talent to make it back to the majors as a pure outfielder. His bat looks decent, but not good enough to get him over the hump. If he's going to make it back to the show, it will be either as a pitcher or as a better Brooks Kieschnick, filling in as a reliever here and there while doubling as a pinch hitter du jour. Then again, he could surprise us by adapting well and ending up as a starting right fielder for a few years with the Cards. Ya never know.

Other things of note that you might be interested in would be his defense and baserunning, both of which are works in progress. He didn't attempt a steal all season. In fact, I don't have any record of him ever attempting a steal as a professional baseball player. His defense will probably limit him to an outfield corner. He has some athleticism, but not THAT much.

ETA: ?
2 Stars

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