Val Majewski has seen his share of tough luck. Two years ago, he was neck and neck with Nick Markakis for the title of the Orioles' top position prospect. Unfortunately, he tore his labrum after an August call-up in 2004 and ended up missing all of 2005. The road back was long and tedious but Majewski, always known for his strong work ethic and first rate makeup, worked hard to be ready for the 2006 season. Despite the rumors that Majewski was shopped to the Florida Marlins for the ever-fungible Eric Reed this off-season, there is no good reason for him no to remain in the organization's long-term plans.
DOB: 03/12/81 Height: 6-2 Weight: 210 B/T: L/L
Val Majewski's age 25 season:
Even given the low-offense environment of the International League, Majewski was not happy with his season in triple-A. The injury played a large part in his power deficiency and he had to receive pre-game shoulder treatments for the duration of the season. Things picked up for him as the season wore on- he hit .347 in July- but his coaches feel his first taste of success in two years actually caused him to press and lengthen his swing in an effort to hit more homeruns. That explains his uncharacteristically high strikeout rate, which should go back to his career-established low levels next season. Majewski kept his walk rate at a high clip and his ability to recognize pitches should make for a relatively easy transition to major league pitching eventually.
At his healthiest, Majewski has a short swing capable of hitting for both average and power. Another year removed from his injury, he should regain the stroke that led some to project 25 homeruns per annum. Detractors point to his limited bat speed and awkward balance at the plate, but he actually fits the profile of the type of player that would respond well to the coaching of Terry Crowley. Prior to the injury, Majewski demonstrated above-average speed and worked hard to become an efficient base-stealer, though he protected his shoulder by largely abandoning that aspect of his game for this past season. He can also hit lefties about as well as righties.
As with every other aspect of his game, Majewski has worked hard to become an above-average right-fielder. To protect his throwing shoulder, he also saw time in left field and at first base in 2006. Briefly, the Orioles even toyed with the possibility that he was their long-term solution at first base, though his bat has more value in the outfield. Majewski had a difficult time getting jumps in left-field at times, but it isn't anything more experience won't help solve.
Val Majewski will start next season in a revamped Norfolk lineup. Although he isn't to blame for missing so much time and his subsequent struggles, it is impossible to ignore that his stock has slipped. He will need a big 2007 season to force his way back into the organization's immediate plans, but anyone that knows Val expects nothing less. His raw statistics will be dampened by the extreme pitcher-friendly nature of Norfolk's home park, but look for his K:BB ratio to improve substantially. Majewski should find himself in the meat of Norfolk's batting order, probably in the 6-hole, and could see time in the show as big league injuries allow. It will be an uphill battle, however, as the Orioles have vastly improved both their major league depth at the corners and their triple-A roster. Don't let Majewski sneak up on you; he could still emerge as a solid regular.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com