Florida Marlins Top 50 Prospect Countdown #32

Kevin Hooper is a prospect of small proportions. The Marlins list him at 5'9, 155 lbs. and that could be overly generous. Scouts however don't discredit him because they compare him to another player of smaller dimensions that has had tremendous success in the major leagues. Find out who in the latest edition of the Marlins Insider's Top 50 Prospect Countdown.

Florida Marlins Prospect Spotlight Countdown #32

Kevin Hooper
Vital Stats:
Position:2B-SS
DOB: December 7, 1976
Birth Place: Lawrence, Kansas Height: 5'9 Weight: 155 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: Drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 8th Round (236th overall) of the 1999 amateur draft.

Overview:
The Marlins drafted Hooper in 1999 after his standout career at Wichita State University in which he was named All-America as a 2B in his senior season. He was also a key member of the record setting 1998 Wichita State team that set all-time offensive records for runs per game (12.1) and doubles per game (3.21). Hooper was a key contributor to the runs record as he led the nation in runs scored per game (1.77) in 1998. That year Kevin was among the national leaders in 13 offensive categories.
In his 5 years in the Marlins system Kevin Hooper has continued his role as the team's spark plug by being among the league leaders in steals and runs scored in each of his stops along his development trail.
Kevin Hooper does not wow anyone with his tools. But he is a hard worker, he does all the little things, and understands how to play the game.

Batting:
Hooper is not at all a big man. The team very generously lists his height at 5'9, although 5'7 is probably more accurate. That being said, Hooper understands exactly how his size defines his role and he doesn't try to do anything more than he is capable of. He knows his job is to get on base by any means necessary and that means to try and keep the ball on the ground and use his legs to get himself on base. He swings in a slap action motion and tries to work the ball to all fields. He is also an above average bunter which has helped him get quite a number of infield singles. Kevin has neither homerun nor gap power. He only had 9 doubles and 1 homerun in 2003. 117 of his 131 hits in 2003 were singles.
One cause for concern for Hooper in 2003 was that in his second Triple A season his stats slid downwards across the board, most importantly on-base percentage.

Base running and Speed:
Hooper has good speed but by no means is he a blazer. On the base paths his good judgment and intelligence gets him his steals as opposed to just his speed. He very rarely makes poor decisions on the base paths.

Defense:
Defense is where Hooper really shines. He doesn't have amazing quickness or does he have a strong arm but he just simply gets the job done. Kevin played 2B in college but has primarily played SS in minors.
In the 2000 season with the Kane County Cougars, Hooper led all infielders in the Midwest League in fielding percentage.

Projection:
Because of his diminutive size, tireless work ethic, baseball intelligence, and all-around style of play Kevin Hooper has been compared repeatedly as a David Eckstein type. While those comparisons can be justified to a certain extent, Eckstein does have a lot more gap power than Hooper does and while Hooper does have plate discipline and a good batting eye, his walk rate is well below where it should be.

Estimated Time of Arrival:
Hooper was invited to the Marlins spring training as part of their 40 man roster where he went 4 for 17 for a .294 average in 9 game appearances. He was just recently optioned back to Triple A Albuquerque for the 2004 season. Hooper is now 28 years old so his clock is ticking and the Marlins have several UTL player type prospects in their system that have probably passed Hooper in the eyes of the Marlins front office. There are however many scouts that feel that Hooper is worthy of a roster spot on a major league roster right now. He probably will never get that chance with the Marlins but it may come with someone else soon.

Year

Team

AVG

R

HR

RBI

2B

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2003

Albuquerque

.266

77

1

54

9

25

35

62

.325

.305



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