Will Pete Kozma Plouffe?

Looking at two similarly-drafted shortstops from two different organizations.

Factoid #1: On Thursday night, Springfield Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma committed his 16th error in just 39 games this season. The Cardinal Nation's 14th-ranked prospect was given Friday off, replaced by Aaron Miles.


The most nondescript of transactions appeared on the wire on Friday:


Factoid #2: "The Minnesota Twins recalled shortstop Trevor Plouffe from the Rochester Red Wings." (pictured)


In support of one or the other of these apparently unrelated items or perhaps both, I offer this scouting report.


Batting and Power. (He) has shown a good batting eye at the plate the past couple of seasons, and looks like he could be a serviceable hitter in the Major Leagues. (He) has shaken off some tough seasons in the beginning of his career, and now is very confident when he gets to the plate. He does not have much power, but he is a great gap hitter, and looked very good in Spring Training this year.


Baserunning and Speed: (He) has average speed, and is not really a threat on the basepaths. He is a smart baserunner though, and is not a liability when he gets on. He also has enough speed to leg out triples, and in some cases, turn singles into doubles. His career-high in stolen bases is 12, meaning he does not run much, but he could get you around ten a season.


Defense. Here is where it gets tricky, because (he) has all the tools to be a top of the line defender. The problem is, he has not shown those kinds of results since coming into the organization, and has committed way too many errors so far in his professional career. However, he is still rated as one of the best defensive infielders in the organization, mostly due to his soft hands and a rocket for an arm.


Only remembering vaguely about Plouffe, I pulled up the above, written about him by my peer at TwinCitiesDugout.com, Brad Weiss, a little over one year ago. The similarities between the two shortstops, Plouffe and Kozma, struck me, down to the same career season high-water mark in steals at a dozen each, a point I did not need to edit from the above text.


Alright, so Kozma has yet to prove he can be a serviceable hitter at the major league level, but Plouffe had a head start. His encouraging report was posted after he had put in a half-season at Triple-A, a level Kozma has yet to achieve.


Looking back, both were highly-touted high schoolers, taken just two picks apart, though in different years. Plouffe was number 20 overall in the 2004 draft out of California, while Kozma was selected 18th in 2007 from Oklahoma.


Draft DOB Hgt Wgt Age Year Rd Pick Bonus
Plouffe 6/15/1986 6-1 175 18 2004 1 20th $1.5 M
Kozma 4/11/1988 6-0 170 19 2007 1 18th $1.395 M


The career comparison is interesting, as Kozma has been moved ahead about a half season earlier than was Plouffe in relation to their respective draft dates, though that is offset somewhat by the fact the Cardinal was 10 months older than the Twin when signed.


The bottom line is that both players reached Double-A at the age of 21. Plouffe accomplished it in his fourth professional season and Kozma in his third.


Season Year Age Level BA OPS E
1st 2004 18 Rookie 0.283 0.719 16
2nd 2005 19 A 0.223 0.645 35
3rd 2006 20 A+ 0.246 0.681 39
4th 2007 21 AA 0.274 0.736 32
5th 2008 22 AA/AAA 0.262 0.723 13
6th 2009 23 AAA 0.260 0.720 26
7th 2010 24 AAA 0.303 0.860 8
Season Year Age Level BA OPS E
1st 2007 19 Rk/A- 0.233 0.655 22
2nd 2008 20 A/A+ 0.258 0.701 22
3rd 2009 21 A+/AA 0.231 0.625 34
4th 2010 22 AA 0.245 0.718 16


Like Kozma, Plouffe endured several seasons of thirty-something error totals. He has played 90 of his 687 minor league games at second and third base, mostly in the last few seasons as the Twins apparently looked to make him more of a versatile type of player as he aged.


Plouffe appeared in his first major league game Friday evening, just one month short of his 24th birthday. He singled, doubled against former Cardinal Jeff Suppan and drove in two.


2010 is Plouffe's seventh professional season. For a first-round pick, even as a high schooler, that lengthy time of development has to be considered a disappointment, but the right-handed hitter potentially still has a number of baseball years ahead.


If Kozma continues in "Plouffe form," he would make his own MLB debut late in the 2012 season, in the midst of his sixth pro campaign. That doesn't sound too far-fetched, does it?



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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