Coach's Speak: John Weber on Vitters

Cypress (Calif.) High School head baseball coach John Weber talked about Josh Vitters, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2007 draft, on Thursday.

"The one thing that I think separates him from everyone else is his canny ability to legitimately hit for power to all fields, and he can do it with a high average," said Weber, Vitters' head coach at Cypress High School.

In his final prep season for Cypress, Vitters batted .390 in 24 games, recording a hit in 30 of 77 total at-bats.

He hit nine home runs and six doubles to make up a .870 slugging percentage, and drew 14 walks to only six strikeouts.

During the season, Vitters missed over two weeks with a bout of pneumonia. If not for that, Weber feels his numbers would have spiked even more.

"When he came back, he still never got himself 100 percent," Weber said. "He played the second half at about 80 percent. He would have been way better had he not gotten pneumonia."

Weber also feels that Vitters, who is the younger brother of Oakland Athletics prospect Christian Vitters, can hit well for both power and average – a shortcoming among other prototypical power hitters that have been drafted in high rounds by the Cubs in recent years.

"What makes him so special is there just aren't a lot of guys like him," said Weber. "If you watch any video on him, he's very simple with his swing. He's not a prototypical power hitter that creates a lot of movement with his swing. What's amazing is how much power he can generate from such a simplistic swing."

Weber was also quick to compliment Vitters' vision and his knack for seeing the ball.

During this past season at Cypress, Vitters was asked by one scout to undergo an eye test. He agreed and visited with Dr. Bill Harrison, a world-renowned optometrist in the field of sports vision in California.

Vitters passed the test with flying colors, Weber said.

"Dr. Harrison discovered that he has 20-10 vision," Weber recalled. "This doctor, who has tested every baseball player known to man, said he had never seen anyone's eyes like this since Barry Bonds when Barry was in his prime."

"The other thing when you talk about his eyesight and the simplicity of his swing, one of the rare things is when he does swing the bat, he doesn't miss the ball very often. He has the rare ability to hit for a solid average and to hit for power," Weber added. "You're getting one guy that's going to do two men's jobs. You don't find this."

On the bases, Weber described Vitters as "very smart." The 17-year-old stole eight bases in nine attempts for the Centurions in 2007.

"His foot speed is really good, though he's not an overly fast runner by any standards," Weber said. "He can run, and that's definitely why he could play a corner spot in the outfield if he were to ever have to."

Speaking of defense, Vitters' natural position is third base. But Weber said he could envision Vitters manning a corner outfield spot should such a move ever come to fruition.

"He has enough arm strength to play there in the big leagues," Weber said. "He pitched for us and could throw 92 (mph) on the bump. So he has the arm strength."

Weber also touched on what areas Vitters needs to develop.

"Defensively, he needs to get a little bit more sound," Weber said. "He comes and gets to the baseball as good as anybody I've ever seen and he's got that above average arm strength. I think the one thing, if he has a little trouble with something, is his lateral movement to his left. That's where he gets himself into a little trouble.

"But when you're in the big leagues, the ball comes at you so fast that it's one step one way or the other. He does have some quickness. He'll be totally fine," Weber said.

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