HT: 5-10 WT: 210 POS: C
Frederick Keys - (92 G, 305 AB .275/.352/.426)
Drafted in the 20th round of the 2006 draft as a senior out of Baylor University, Zach Dillon was given an advanced assignment to low-A Delmarva. He held his own offensively, batting .259 with some pop and a lot of walks. His bat took another step forward this year, particularly after the all-star break, when he hit .314/.376/.459.
Dillon's approach at th plate is extremely advanced, as evidenced by his 32:35 K:BB ratio. He has average bat speed and should be able to maintain a batting average in the ~.275 range as he moves up. His power has been more of the doubles variety and he'll probably top out around 10 homeruns per year. However, he adds plenty of walks and is an above-average offensive package at the catcher position.
Like most catchers, Dillon is a below-average runner. All five of his homeruns came against right-handers this year, but he should maintain his batting average against fellow southpaws.
Dillon is a solid receiver, but he allowed more than his share of passed balls this year. Most don't feel that it will be a long-term concern, but he had 8 errors in his 78 games behind the plate. His arm strength is below-average for a catcher, but he has good transfer skills.
Zach Dillon doesn't fit the typical backup catcher profile of a catch-and-throw guy, but he is good enough to stick at the position. As an offense-first backstop, he may have to improve enough offensively to start or find another organization that appreciates his skillset more. At 24 years old, 2008 should prove to be a major year for him. He'll begin the year in double-A Bowie and could be in line to make his major league debut in 2009. If the O's trade away Ramon Hernandez and don't acquire another veteran starter, he may even get a look at the end of 2008.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com