TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #29: Pete Kozma

Can the former first-round draft pick build upon his unexpected late-season success in the majors?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
35 SS 4/11/1988 6-0 170 R R 2007 1st

School: Owasso High School (Owasso, OK)

Selected 2012 stats

MEM 0.232 0.251 448 61 104 16 11 63 41 74 7 0.289 0.292 0.355 0.647
StL 0.333 0.415 72 11 24 5 2 14 7 19 2 0.396 0.383 0.569 0.952

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (NR): Kozma isn't on my prospect radar. Why? I'm not really sure. I must still be biased since I hated his draft selection. There can be no other logical reason.

Even with his poor minor league stats (he was one of the worst hitters in his league each of the last two years), one can not totally ignore the .952 OPS he put up in 72 major league at bats. Some will say that is merely the product of an incredibly high (.415) BABIP, but they fail to take in to account that that is supported by an incredibly high line drive rate of over 30%. But then again he did strike out over 23% of the time, which is way above the major league average.

We should know more about Mr. Kozma after this next season as he most likely will bounce between Triple-A and the majors in his last option year. The stats say he could do OK at the major league level in the future. My biases still say that won't happen.

Message board community (15): Kozma checked in at #15 among the Community voters. Okay, so maybe we got a little tipsy based on Pete's white-hot September. After all, the 24-year-old hit just .232/.292/.355 in nearly 500 Memphis plate appearances. And that rather dismal showing actually represented an improvement on his 2011 season in Triple-A (.214/.280/.289).

So, who is Pete Kozma, really? And what did Mike Matheny see, that led him to put the kid from Owasso, Oklahoma in the lineup in the first place - a move that quite likely was the difference-maker down the stretch?

Well, let's say for the sake of discussion that Pete is going to hit in the majors exactly the way he hit in Triple-A last year, while providing average defense and baserunning. That'd make him a 1-win player, or basically a decent bench piece who shouldn't start more than 15-20 games a year for a team that fancies itself a contender.

Is that a real prospect or not? Your guess is as good as mine. - BobReed

Brian Walton (22): Normally when preparing these lists, the "present versus potential" equation is very different - as in trying to determine if a player can attain the majors and how he might do once there. Kozma has completely derailed that process.

Last year at this time, I placed Kozma 41st in my rankings and honestly expected it would be his final appearance on this prospect list. Despite what my own numbers indicate, I honestly struggle to accept that he has moved up 19 points in the last 12 months – or should I say in the last month of the season?

The reality is that Kozma did nothing during the first five months of the 2012 campaign to suggest anything had changed. He was the third-weakest hitter (after Bryan Anderson and one other) in the Pacific Coast League. Further, it was his second year at the level.

After all, Kozma's .647 OPS with Memphis this season was almost identical to his career minor league mark of .652, accrued over six long years. I am not ready to accept that 26 games at the MLB level trumps 671 career games of consistent minor league mediocrity at the plate.

Yet no one can take away what Kozma did for St. Louis in September, and my ranking is acknowledgment of that unexpected success. Whether it will be BoHartian in duration remains to be seen.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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