School: Owasso High School, Oklahoma
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (11): What if? What if Pete Kozma wouldn't have been the team's number one pick in 2007? What if Rick Porcello were not available for the Cardinals at that spot? There have been a lot of what ifs when it comes to the Cardinals first round pick in 2007. But don't blame the 21-year-old.
Yes, I know Porcello is already in the major leagues and had a solid rookie season. But Kozma did not ask the Cardinals to bypass the right-handed pitcher to select him. I just feel that the shortstop has been looked upon unfairly and held to unreasonable expectations. Remember, if he would have not signed with the Cardinals and gone to Wichita State, he would still have another season of college baseball. But instead, Kozma has played almost a full season in the storied Texas League. Though his performance at the plate might have left to be desired, he was named the top defensive shortstop in his league by Baseball America.
To be fair, Kozma was hitting .315/.381/.384 in 18 games at Palm Beach before he was promoted to Springfield. Yes, the sample size was small but injuries forced his overaggressive promotion. Surely, Kozma would have benefited from a full season against competition closer to his own experience.
Reports are that Kozma stayed positive and never got down, no matter how much he struggled at the plate. He still possesses a swing more conducive to contact than driving the ball. The organization knew when they drafted him this and seemingly has not tried to tinker with it. Kozma has average speed on the bases that plays up due to his good instincts on the base paths. In the field, he has good range and a solid average arm.
I'm anxious to see how he performs in his second trip to Springfield. If history is an indicator, expect a strong performance in the former first round pick.
Message board community (20): Pete Kozma slid from 13th in the community rankings last year to 20th this year. In 2008, he had 77 at-bats at Palm Beach and managed only a .413 OPS. This year, he got 73 at-bats there and managed an OPS of .765, including a very solid .381 OBP. And the Cards felt good enough about that to move him up to Double-A after he turned 21 during the season. For comparison, Tyler Greene posted an OPS of .633 at Palm Beach when he played there at age 22. Various sources report that Kozma is a plus defensive shortstop, and getting to Double-A at that age is pretty remarkable. The only younger member of the Springfield roster was Eduardo Sanchez.
The problem was that he couldn't maintain the hitting in Double-A, where he managed only .288 OBP and .312 SLG. And his OPS was worse after the break (.537) than before (.665). He did manage to hit lefties reasonably well (.358 OBP/.437 SLG in 119 AB's), but he really struggled with righties (.518 OPS). My guess is that if he had stayed in high-A and posted those numbers over a full year that the community would have ranked him higher, though that's speculation on my part. It will be interesting to see if he can adjust to Double-A out of the box in 2010 the way he did to high-A in 2009. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (13): Clearly his first-round status rubs Kozma both ways. Expectations, exceptionally high from the very start, remain that way because of who he is, but he also has been continuously ranked on this list out of respect for what his draft position signifies more than his results.
Whether or not he is plus glove man and despite his relative youth, the fact remains that with Springfield, Kozma hit like Mario Mendoza. Coming into the year, Kozma's cumulative OPS over his first two professional seasons was just .690. That helps put his .625 2009 season mark into perspective.
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