AZ decided to start the painful process of auditing his rankings of last year, something I think most prospect “rankers” would rather not do. Thinking of doing it myself makes me think about that dream you have where you are in the middle of class and suddenly you realize you are the only one in your boxer shorts. Really though, it’s a great idea and I’m looking forward to patting myself on the back/embarrassing myself in a future post by going over my list in a later post. (Brad Furnish…really? What was I smoking?)
#16: Right where he should have been. Great start to the season earned him much acclaim in the blogosphere and much finger pointing at detractors. Things evened out by the end of the season to show that he’s a decent prospect but still not a great choice for a first round pick.
I’ve waffled back and forth on Kozma, but now I have to respectfully disagree. It’s true, he started hot this season, fizzled, came back strong enough to earn a promotion to FSL, and there proceeded to lay a big, fat stinky egg over 94 plate appearances.
Allow me to cherry pick a little and throw out the aforementioned doorknob. What happened in Florida will stay in Florida, after all, it was the end of a long season. Let’s look at the bigger picture of his MWL season. If I butcher some numbers, then tell me so.
Kozma’s Peak Translated EqA was .269. The average EqA for a major league shortstop is .255. Michael Young (a player to whom Kozma has drawn a few comparisons) had .267 EqA, which is a down year for him. For his career, Young has a .273 EqA. Looking at another SS: Yunel Escobar, who many fans are clamoring that Mozeliak make a move for even at the expense of Ryan Ludwick, had a .271 EqA. Ryan Theriot, the scrappy lead-off hitter for the NL Central champs (that hurt to think, let alone type) posted a .263 EqA.
I’m not saying Peak Translations are the perfect prophet for every prospect and prospect wannabe, but the numbers are basically agreeing with Kozma’s scouting report, which is that he is nothing flashy, but above average in about every category other than power.
Let’s look at another metric. I don’t pretend to completely understand wOBA or EqA, but I think I get their drift from what I’ve read about them. Anywho, Kozma’s wOBA+ was 109; BA’s Top Midwest League prospect Mike Moustakas was 110. I’m not trying to say something outrageous like Moustakas is just a teeny bit better than Kozma, but I am saying Kozma was the best everyday shortstop in a pitcher’s league just a year removed from high school, and had a lot better of a season than most people give him credit for.
Looking in hindsight, is there someone else in the 2007 draft the Cards should have rather drafted? I’m not sure you can make a airtight argument for any player. Rick Porcello? Of course, but we all know the Cardinals will never pay a high school pitcher that kind of money, and a little more than twenty teams passed on him for the same reason. Ben Revere had a monster season (wOBA+ 129), but his selection was picked on by the pundits far more so than Kozma’s. J.P. Arencibia hit very well, but he’s a 1B or a DH in the making, not a catcher.
Back then, I personally wanted Todd Frazier and Brett Cecil. Frazier did his best shortstop impression last year, but no one believes he’ll stay there and there’s already talk the Reds will be moving him to right field. We really don’t need yet another corner OF. Brett Cecil is someone that was linked to the Cardinals and they could have picked over Mortensen, and now passing him twice over is looking like a big mistake. A college reliever converted to the rotation, he gets gobs of grounders and a goodly amount of K’s. He looks like a solid #3 or possibly a closer. Oh, and he’s left-handed and he finished in AAA to end the season. I think he’d be the best argument against Kozma, but they could have had both!
The bottom line is good middle infield prospects are hard to find. Kozma may do anything exceptional, but does a lot of things quite well, and maybe that’s why he gets overlooked. A merely good SS is a very good #1 pick in a draft like 2007′s, and Kozma did more than just hold his own in his first full professional season. Just think about the Cardinal’s present day needs: the best free agent shortstops available are declining and overpriced, and names we hear most often in trade rumors are Julio Lugo and Jack Wilson. Bleh. It’ll be nice to have a cost-controlled SS for a change.
Sneak preview of my top prospects, and this is subject to change and your arguments will be taken into consideration, but—
I suppose when I boil it all down, give me the above average SS over some of the iffy mid-rotation starters, set up relievers and averagish corner outfielders in our system. If Jaime Garcia were fully healthy, then I’d bump Koz down a notch.