Every organization has their own way of scouting and signing prospective major league talent, seeking out the best in the areas they feel are most important.
Some teams look for the power swings with tremendous bat-speed potential and plan on teaching players to pare down their long swings in order to make better contact.
Other teams, including the Seattle Mariners, lean towards the safer approach to finding hitters. Following the philosophy that you have to make contact to get hits, the M's have landed several hitters with patient approaches at the plate. These guys are more likely to develop their power with maturity, rather than beginning their pro career that way.
This week's Prospect Watch takes a peak at the Mariners Top 10 pure hitters. Pure hitters have a naturally patient approach and possess the ability to limit strikeouts and take a walk while collecting their share of hits. Most "pure hitters" don't hit for much power and they are rarely speedy leadoff types, though there are a few exceptions.
Just ask any hurler who has ever tubed a fastball to a .300 hitter with a reputation for hitting singles and doubles in the minors. They had to walk halfway to the plate and get a new ball from the umpire after that pitch. The basic definition of a pure hitter is hitter who hits the ball solidly on a consistent basis, limits strikeouts, takes a walk, and can hit one out on occasion if the pitcher makes a mistake.
These are the guys who do that best in the Mariners' farm system:
10. Matt Rogelstad, IF, Inland Empire 66ers
Rogelstad combines a quick bat with solid discipline to gain solid results. Don't look for power to show up all of a sudden, but hitting .300 isn't out of the question if he plays every day.
9. Chris Collins, C, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Collins is in the worst place to catch nine innings and swing a bat four times a game. The 22-year-old is showings signs of offensive maturity with his 28 walks and seems to be ready for the next level. Remember, the Midwest League is a severe pitcher's league, especially through May.
8. Dustin Delucchi, OF, San Antonio Missions
Delucchi is a contact hitter deluxe. Put the bat on the ball as hard as you can as many times as you can and see what happens. Seems to work for him.
7. Hunter Brown, IF, San Antonio Missions
Perhaps the closest thing to John Olerud as far as plate skills is concerned. Brown mixes good plate discipline with decent power and a great eye, and the result is a solid 2004 season.
6. Jesus Guzman, 3B, Inland Empire 66ers
Has the best plate skills of any teenage hitter the M's have had since Ken Griffey Jr. was an 18-year-old prospect in Bellingham. Power to come, but a solid ratio of strikeouts and walks is proof of his natural skills.
5. T.J. Bohn, OF, Inland Empire 66ers
Bohn is the most advanced hitter in the lower levels and probably won't be able to show his development until he gets significant time in Double-A. Bohn tallies tons of walks, but still too many strikeouts. His power (6 HR) makes up for some of the K's.
4. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Inland Empire 66ers
Has the ability to be the best of this entire group. Proving his skills at the Double-A level this season, Choo simply needs to polish a few areas; continue to improve strikeout ratio and stay patient enough to get the best pitch to hit in every at-bat. Both areas will send Choo's power numbers through the roof. Ok, not through the roof, but it should put a nice dent in the ceiling.
3. Greg Dobbs, 3B, San Antonio Missions
After missing almost all of 2003, Dobbs has spent the season in Double-A, and is currently hitting .324/.378/.514 with five home runs and 30 RBI. Just 21 strikeouts in over 190 plate appearances spells promotion.
2. Jose Lopez, SS/3B, Tacoma Rainiers
Lopez ranks this high more for his unbelievable ability to make contact versus pitchers much more advanced in their development in the PCL. The 20-year-old has improved his extra-base numbers while learning to be a little more patient and taking a few more walks. Lopez is hitting .272 with 10 home runs.
1. Greg Jacobs, OF, Tacoma Rainiers
The 2003 California League batting champ has taken his act to Triple-A after spending the first two months repeating Double-A. Jacobs was hitting .310 with San Antonio and in his first 15 plate appearances with Tacoma, has walked twice and struck out just once. Expect Jacobs to hit well in the Pacific Coast League just as he has done everywhere else.
Missing a name on the list? Jason appreciates your feedback at JasonAChurchill@insidethepark.com.
Prospect Watch: Top 10 Pure Hitters
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