Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nate Schierholtz Report

Nate Schierholtz, OF, San Francisco Giants
Drafted 63rd Overall (2nd Rd), 2003 Draft, Chabot Junior College (CA)
Bats L/Throws R
21YO, 6'2", 215 lbs

Schierholtz is an interesting prospect for the numbers he's put up and the raw hitting talent that he has. His swing is tailored for launching frozen ropes to both outfield gaps. He's always hit for average and has more power than most 21 year olds. There are some problems though. He's awful at drawing walks, his strikeout rate has spiked, and he's sliding down the defensive spectrum with lightning speed. Drafted as a third baseman, he couldn't cut it there and has moved to the outfield.

2004 Hagerstown: .296/.353/.584, 22 2B, 15 HR, 18 BB, 52 K, 233 AB
2004 San Jose: .295/.338/.469, 18 2B, 9 3B, 3 HR, 15 BB, 41 K, 258 AB
2005 San Jose: .310/.351/.487, 23 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 18 BB, 87 K, 310 AB
mL Career: .306/.357/.502, 69 2B, 17 3B, 29 HR, 66 BB, 203 K, 970 AB

The guy has talent. He can hit a baseball, but I can't give him a glowing endorsement until he learns that you don't have to swing at sliders in the dirt. Hitters who strike out in 30% of their at bats don't often hit .300 and if he isn't batting .300, then his walk rate will pull his OBP into Womack country. There are only so many Alfonso Sorianos and as Jose Reyes has found out, it's hard trying to be a good young player when you swing at everything.

If you're looking for a sure thing on San Jose's roster, look for Eddy Martinez-Esteve. He'll hit no matter where he is. Schierholtz is another one those lottery ticket guys. A small percentage of these guys are either talented enough to overcome their weakness and be a star even while pitchers are exploiting their hacktastic ways, and a different small percentage take the Sammy Sosa path and actually learn that they can leave the bat on their shoulder when it's a ball and swing hard when it's a strike. Those two populations are dwarfed by the number of guys who are crippled by their flaw and end up being AAA washouts or Mark Quinn-style flashes in the pan.

Now here's a second rant in this one report. I've been down this road before, but there really is no good reason why the Giants should be punting picks every season. In the back half of the first round, you can get some really nice stuff and it's worth the investment. In 2004, the Giants decided that it wasn't worth a million dollars to take a chance on a late first round pick. They passed up Huston Street, Zach Jackson, Justin Orenduff, and JC Howell. The Giants have a checkered draft history over the last half decade, but even then they've come out with solid prospects at least 1/3 of the time and that's all you need to be an assett and worth every penny. Furthermore, they've been pretty good at taking second round players of late. In 3 years they produced Fred Lewis, Schierholtz, and EME. It looks like it may be a bit of a moot point this season though, as both the Mariners and the Giants, the only two teams to actively use the strategy are pretty likely to finish in the bottom half of the league and as a result have their first round pick protected.

ETA: 2007
3 1/2 Stars

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