There’s not much to be found about Erik Komatsu, the former Nationals’ outfielder selected by the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft. He’s 24 years old (DOB 10/1/1987), left-handed at the plate and in the field, average height (5’10″) and weighs 185 lbs. He was traded from the Brewers to the Nationals last year for Jerry Hariston Jr. after Richie Weeks was injured.
Komatsu was drafted in the 8th round of the 2008 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers from California State University in Fullerton. It should be noted that he has both good (Sandlot) and terrible (Pimp Chronicles Part 1) taste in movies to go with acceptable musical tastes. In his senior year, he posted a .355/.459/.593 line over 231 ABs.
Most of 2009 was lost due to injuries. Komatsu returned to action in 2010 spending the year with the Brewers high-A affiliate in the Florida State League, Brevard County. Showcasing the skills that got him drafted, he maintained a walk rate over 10% and hit for a .321 average. With more walks than strikeouts and a modicum of power, he was considerably better offensively than the league average.
Entering the 2011 season, Komatsu garnered some national attention on prospect lists. Baseball America ranked him outside their top 10 but gave him top marks in the Brewers system for his “strike zone discipline” and “ability to hit for average”. Kevin Goldstein had him at #14 on his Brewers list saying:
Komatsu is another potential bench outfielder thanks to his approach, speed, and left-handedness.
Komatsu continued to display a superb approach at the plate entering AA in 2011. While with the Brewers affiliate, he walked a whopping 14% of his plate appearances. (Frame of reference, Matt Carpenter’s career minor league walk rate is 14.4%.) Komatsu maintained a high average and enough power to not look out of place.
On July 30th, he was swapped for Jerry Harriston Jr. Reactions to the trade included this take from John Sickles:
A 23-year-old left-handed hitter, Komatsu lacks power but has decent speed. He has excellent strike zone judgment and is a very polished hitter, but as a tweener-type who lacks big power, he’ll likely fit best as a reserve outfielder.
As well as these comments from Baseball America:
The questions for Komatsu are the typical tweener profile issues: Will his defense be enough for center field, and will he have enough power for a corner outfield spot? His speed is a tick above-average and he gets good jumps off the bat, but he doesn’t have the pure range to stack up against most regular big league center fielders.
Komatsu never managed to get his offense back together after the trade hitting just .234/.298/.297 and that likely played some part in his exposure to the Rule 5 draft.
Essentially what you would expect in a Rule 5 draftee, Komatsu is a marginal prospect whose ceiling looks like that of a bench player who can spell centerfield or the corners but would be overexposed defensively in the former and offensively in the latter if playing the position full time. Combine that with an uncharacteristic offensive profile (excellent plate discipline, little power) and scouts will have a tendency to shy away from him. There’s not a lot of upside and Komatsu looks exceedingly redundant behind Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran and Schumaker. With Adron Chambers a true centerfielder in AAA, Komatsu is likely to be returned to the Nationals or optioned to Memphis (pending a deal with Washington).