2011 Cardinals Prospect #17 – Pete Kozma

Can the former first-rounder continue to build steam in Triple-A in 2011?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2010 and career stats)

2010 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
14 SS 4/11/1988 6-0 170 R R 2007 1st

School: Owasso High School, Oklahoma

Selected 2010 stats

SPR 0.243 503 69 122 28 2 13 72 56 111 13 0.318 0.384 0.702
AFL 0.269 67 13 18 7 2 0 4 6 18 1 0.329 0.433 0.762

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (24): Unfortunately, when I think of Pete Kozma, I think of a soap opera. He is never going to live up to the hype of a first round pick and he will forever be linked in the minds of Cardinal fans to Rick Porcello. Though definitely unfair, the Oklahoma native will have to deal with this for the rest of his time as a Cardinal.

Kozma got a whole year of Double-A under his belt and did not produce like many had hoped for. The shortstop hit .243/.318/.384 with 13 home runs. He did strike out 111 times while drawing only 56 walks. In the field, he still shows steady range but is still error prone.

Maybe it is just prospect fatigue but I have doubts that Kozma will be anything more than a utility infielder with a solid glove and a fringy bat.

Message board community (16): Pete Kozma rose to 16th on the community list from 20th last year. I wonder if he would have risen faster if he had had his Arizona Fall League appearances earlier.

Kozma generated strong opinions both ways. On the downside, his error rate is awfully high, with 34 in 132 Double-A games last year, his second full season at Springfield. And he managed only a .702 OPS in that second Double-A season, as well. On the upside, he is still only 22, turning 23 this coming April. While he makes errors, multiple people who have seen him play shortstop praised his athleticism, range, and arm. And that OPS was an improvement from a .600 at Springfield in 2009.

Then for Surprise (in the AFL) he surprised, posting a .329 OBP, .433 SLG rate in 67 at-bats against prime pitching prospects. Given his athleticism, if he can settle his defense and get on base just a bit more than those AFL numbers, he might still land a starting shortstop spot. If not, there's some sign he hits lefties particularly well, and so he could be a utility/platoon IF. Hopefully he breaks camp as the Triple-A shortstop this year. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (14): After seeing Kozma commit two errors in one game in Springfield this summer, I admit that my placement of him was headed in the wrong direction. That was moderated, however, after speaking with several veteran scouts and seeing an improved Kozma play in the Arizona Fall League in November.

When I queried his Springfield manager Ron "Pop" Warner about his shortstop during the season, the skipper had already felt the needed adjustments were underway.

"It is an ongoing thing with him and the bat," Warner said. "Just trying to get him to stay on the ball a little more consistently. Defensively, the errors he makes, I wouldn't say he is careless, but he lets the ball play him a little too much. We have been working on that with him and expressing the value of being aggressive and fielding through the ball. He gets back on his heels every once in awhile. I think he is going to be a good defensive player at the major league level someday."

Though Kozma seemed miles away from St. Louis not that long ago, the reality of the middle infield depth at the upper levels of the system is such that he may be just a slump or injury away from making his major league debut. Kozma was added to the 40-man roster in November and should be Memphis' shortstop in 2011.

Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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