Minor League Profile: J.C. Holt

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks starts a series of reports on some of the Braves' top minor league players. This profile is on second baseman J.C. Holt, who spent the 2005 season in Rome.

2005 Review

J.C. Holt started out the 2005 season sinfully slow, but recovered nicely in the second half of the year to at least have respectable numbers at the end. Holt finished with a .268 average, 5 home runs, 50 RBI, 118 hits in 441 at bats, 22 doubles, and only 12 stolen bases, down from the 17 he swiped in the short-season Appy League in 2004. Holt had a .324 on base percentage, along with 15 errors in the field. Drafted out of LSU in the third round of the 2004 draft, Holt had some big expectations as a college player going to the Sally League. His inconsistency is troubling, but the Braves still have faith in the second baseman.

Rome Manager Rocket Wheeler

Well coming out of LSU he had a good bat, good speed, and he put the ball in play. I think he was putting too much pressure on himself early on. We dropped him down to lower in the order. I think it was better for him to hit in the nine hole than to have them extra at bats. We just felt it would be easier for him to hit in the nine hole and not have as much pressure. Then in July his hits started falling, and he didn't chase as many bad pitches. His stolen bases aren't up as we thought they might be. His OBP was .425 in July. That's what you are looking for in a leadoff hitter.

2006 Outlook

Holt needs a solid season in Myrtle Beach. He must prove his year in Rome was a mirage, and that he is, in fact, a solid prospect. If he struggles offensively in Myrtle Beach, not an easy place to hit in the first place, his prospect status will diminish greatly. Myrtle Beach is almost a cutoff level. If you can't hit in High-A, chances are you're going to struggle in Double-A and above. So it is crucial for Holt to start reaching the potential the Braves still believe he has. Myrtle Beach can humble hitters, but it can also teach them how to be a better hitter, once they learn that hard-hit balls they hit that might go out elsewhere will be infield popups at Coastal Federal Field. So maybe this park with be perfect for Holt, who doesn't have much power anyway. The Braves would like for him to steal a few more bases, to prove he can hit leadoff. And, of course, it's important for him to raise his OBP. The Braves still have confidence that Holt can develop into a solid prospect, and the 2006 season will determine whether or not they are correct. With Martin Prado, scheduled to play second in Mississippi, clearly a better second base prospect at this point, Holt has an uphill battle to become anything more than a utility prospect in the next few years. Perhaps a solid season in Myrtle Beach will improve that projection.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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