Mid-Season Scouting Report: Landon Powell, C

In the second in our series of mid-season scouting reports, Paul Rathert breaks down the talents of Stockton catcher Landon Powell. He examines the effect of Powell's 2005 knee injury, as well as Powell's strengths defensively and offensively.

After being a first round draft pick in 2004, Landon Powell was on his way to being the best overall catching prospect in the A's system before a knee injury reduced him to spectator in 2005. He has jumped right back into the swing of things both at the plate and behind it and was named to the California League All-Star team this season. He is old for high-A, but he already has a reputation as being the best defensive catcher in the league and the depth at the position throughout the organization is probably the only thing keeping him in Stockton.

Landon Powell's 2006 Stats Through 6/21/06





























Physique: Powell is a physically imposing player. He is big-boned with wide hips and tree trunk legs. Powell is "country strong," but there are debates about his bulk. In his defense, when you have a knee injury you cannot really do any cardio to stay in shape. On the other hand, some scouts look at him and think he is a player that avoids the weight room.

Losing weight to reduce the stress on your knees is also a good way to keep from re-injuring the same knee, so Powell may slim down a bit in the off-season to prolong his career. He isn't fat by any means, just big.

Defense: When looking at Powell, the thought that he would be active and elite behind the plate is not the first that runs through your mind. This is where Powell has and will continue to surprise people. He is a nimble catcher with a plus arm. Pitchers rave about his ability neutralize the opponents' running game.

Powell rarely makes a bad throw and will nail even the best base-stealers with regularity. His snap throws are also strong. He is quick to come from behind the plate on bunts and has good vision and good decision-making skills. When it comes to collisions at the plate, he will win most, if not all, battles. He frames pitches well and has great footwork. His reactions and movements behind the plate are really a sight to behold for someone of his size, especially after having a potentially career-threatening knee injury.

Offense: A switch-hitter with good power, Powell projects well at the plate. He has gap-to-gap power and a keen eye. His K:BB numbers fall in-line with the organizational philosophy and his average has improved steadily. He has a longer swing, but opens his hips well and doesn't get jammed too often. He can drive balls to the opposite field as well, but is still rounding his right-handed swing into form. He will hit some long doubles, but he won't clog the bases like one might think as he continues to recover from the knee injury.

As he progresses towards the majors he would fit well anywhere from the cleanup spot to the seventh hole. There isn't anything holding him back from one day being a solid, run producing catcher that hits for good average.

Overview: Oakland is blessed with a wealth of catching talent in their minor league system and Powell is in the mix. If Kurt Suzuki had not raised his defensive talents several notches this season at Midland, Powell would have been the best-rounded catcher in the organization. That being said, Powell is unquestionably right behind Suzuki in terms of catching prospects right now.

The future is bright for Oakland behind the plate, but Jason Kendall remains the incumbent for the time being. Powell's name should be in the mix to compete for time as the A's starting catcher in a few years or he could become the subject of trade talks should Suzuki establish himself and Anthony Recker continue to develop behind him.

Powell is in high-A right now while Suzuki is shining in AA, but the fact that Powell is two years older could prompt the A's to promote him faster than Suzuki or leap frog him from AA to the majors sometime next season. Suzuki was recently named to the Futures Game roster and if his success continues he could find himself as the A's starting catcher in 2008 with Powell as his back-up.

There is a possibility that Powell could also share time at DH to get his bat in the lineup on a consistent basis. There may be questions about his knee holding up long enough to allow him to stay behind the plate for a long career, but if he can manage to stay healthy he could very well establish himself as a very solid major league catcher.

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