Name: Logan Forsythe
DOB: January 14, 1987
A supplemental first-round pick in 2008, Forsythe was to be counted on heavily at short-season Eugene with other top picks yet unsigned. After going 3-for-9 through his first three games, Forsythe broke his thumb diving into the first base bag. That shelved him until the middle of August – costing two months of developmental time.
Coming back, he struggled in nine games with the Arizona Rookie League Padres, going 6-for-26. Despite a .231 average in Arizona, he managed to get on base at a .429 clip and was hit by five pitches across two leagues and 15 games.
Understandably, it was hard to get a read on him because of the lack of playing time.
Forsythe went out to the Padres Instructional League and thrived. The third baseman went 12-for-37 with six extra-base hits and 11 hard contacts. He also notched 18 walks, giving him a .545 on-base percentage for the fall season.
"In the first couple of weeks, he was totally passive but once his eye got back in tune with the rhythm of the pitching – once he got it going, he put on a show the last three weeks of Instructional League," former Padres minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa said. "On our chart, we thought, ‘Geez, we got two really good third basemen out of this draft.' We all, to a man, had Forsythe one notch above Darnell, which is where they broke this year. And at the halfway point, fortunately, they were both able to advance."
He added another 10 hard contacts and five extra-base hits in 28 at-bats during Spring Training 2009, setting him up to begin the year in High-A Lake Elsinore in his first full season of professional baseball.
Forsythe took to the challenge, hitting .322 across 66 games with the Lake Elsinore Storm before getting promoted to Double-A. He collected 24 extra-base hits, including eight homers, scored 46 runs and notched 30 RBI. He also drew 61 walks compared to 46 strikeouts for an impressive .472 on-base percentage. The highest walk total in the league for the entire year was 79. His 1.27 walk-to-strikeout ratio led the circuit.
"For him, like a lot of the college guys have a real flat swing because of the aluminum bat," former Lake Elsinore hitting coach Shane Spencer said. "He would hit balls hard to center and left center, but they would be topspin.
"We were just trying to get him to get his hands up and down through the ball. Now he's starting to drive the ball – backspin a little bit more so, he's going to be a great player in my book. He's a big-leaguer who was in High-A."
The third baseman would reach base in his first 39 professional games. He added a 33-game on-base streak split across High-A and Double-A. Forsythe reached in all but two of his California League games.
He also placed third in the league with a .441 wOBA (weighted On-Base Average) amongst all hitters with at least 290 plate appearances.
The only area that needed to show improvement was his .265 average with runners on base. The feeling was he was not being as aggressive during those times, letting good pitches skate by.
"Logan reminds me of a young Matt Williams, that body type guy," Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano said. "He's got a nice swing. Defensively, he's more developed than (James) Darnell. I think he could play third base in the big leagues someday. He's another baseball player, he's got a quick bat.
"He needs to be a little more aggressive on the play, especially with men in scoring position. He misses a lot of pitches sometimes with his pent-uppedness, but he's durable and he's a quiet leader, plays a good third base. He hit third for me while he was here, he did an outstanding job."
The Arkansas alumnus went on to San Antonio where he appeared in 66 games for the Missions. He started off hot before tapering off, ending the campaign with a .279 average. He drew 41 more walks compared to 63 strikeouts to post a .384 on-base percentage. Forsythe notched 15 extra-base during his stint in San Antonio with 31 RBI and again hit better with the bases empty – a .320 mark as opposed to a .235 average with runners on base.
His 102 walks across two leagues tied him for the second most amongst all minor leaguers. His .429 on-base percentage was 10th best in the minors.
"He's another guy, competitor, plays hard, knows how to play the game," former San Antonio and current Portland hitting coach Orv Franchuk said. "He hasn't been in professional ball very long, and he's moving right along. I think this guy's going to be a big leaguer not too long down the road."
Forsythe is patient to a fault. He has an incredible batting eye and understands better than most the pitches he is most comfortable offering at. He will also let hittable pitches pass and is not aggressive enough early in the count, especially with men in scoring position. As pitchers look to get ahead in the count with a quick strike in those situations – many of them over the heart of the plate – Forsythe sits idle.
"We talked about it.," Franchuk said. "I guess I would rather see that because I think he can go to the aggressive side. I've seen him go to the aggressive side and be aggressive too.
"We've talked about it a lot. The good thing about it is he has such a good swing, and he has so much confidence with two strikes that he'll take that tough pitch in the corner early in the count as opposed to guys that don't have good two-strike approaches. They're afraid to get the two strikes and as a result they're not very selective early in the count and they get themselves out early."
"He is a very patient hitter – almost to the point of fault," roving hitting coordinator Tony Muser said. "Where we've tried to entice him to be more aggressive, because when you're looked at and you hit in a line-up for power you have the leeway to strike out a little bit more. More than at the top of the order and more at the bottom of the order where it's okay to swing and miss; and he is a little passive early in the count. He is such a good competitor.
"He might be one of our better, I don't have the numbers to prove this, I'm just going by my mind and my thought watching him compete, one of our better two-strike hitters. We don't need him to be that good with two strikes on him. I would have him more aggressive early in the count and really let it fly.
"I can give you a hitter in our system that mentally in his approach is very much like him and that's Kyle Blanks. Kyle kind of had that look to him where he would take good pitches to hit early in the count, but refuse to strikeout and that's kind of where Forsythe is right now, but he's going to learn it. "Fall down swinging early in the count with two strikes and dare them to make a mistake with two strikes. So Logan's in that process of doing that and he's another guy we've pushed. He's a very good competitor."
Working in his favor is his two-strike approach. He is one of the best two-strike hitters in the game. He is generally not afraid of falling behind and will battle for a quality pitch.
Forsythe has fast-twitching muscles that generate a tremendous amount of bat speed. He is very composed at the dish, as all of his moving pieces seem to work in concert. He has a level swing and maximizes the bat's time in the hitting zone through the use of elbow, wrist, hands – in that order – making for a short, compact stroke. Long swings will use the hands before the elbow.
The right-handed hitter could stand to get into his load a little bit earlier but the timing and rhythm he has shown hasn't made this a concern. His setup is a little late in bringing his hands back before exploding forward. A pause in his load will allow him to adjust to any pitch rather than the rock and go he favors. It would also up his power numbers.
"I do think he has enough power to stay at third, but right now he doesn't have the turn and burn skills that (James) Darnell has," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He's a young developing hitter that stays inside the ball so well that most of his power is to the center of the field or to right-center. Its a good sign for young power hitters, and once he learns to really turn on the inside pitch, you will see an increase in his power numbers.
"Remember, the rap on Adrian Gonzalez when he first came up was that he didn't have enough power and turn on the inside pitch. He learned how to make the adjustment and hopefully Logan will too."
He has great weight transference and uses his whole body through contact. Even balls that aren't squared up have a chance of being hit hard. His bat control is also a plus trait, as he has finite control and can use all parts of the field. Forsythe is more than willing to go with a pitch – pulling balls on the inner half and going with a pitch on the outside corner.
The California League All-Star is a tick above average performer at the hot corner. He fields the position well and has good lateral range. He doesn't have a rocket arm but sets his feet and throws with balance. He can play third at the higher levels, but the talk fo 2010 is moving him to second base on a more permanent basis. He will be the starting second baseman in San Antonio this year.
"From a defensive standpoint, he is right on track," roving infield coordinator Gary Jones said. "He has the arm strength, the lateral movement to his left and right. He comes in on balls and has good body control. He just needs to continue to get the innings there. Every once in awhile, he will airmail a ball, but he's pretty good."
A smart base runner that is studious in his approach to reading a pitcher, Forsythe will snag a few bases each year. He can post double-digit totals because of his instincts and quick reactions on his initial step.
A leader with a strong work ethic, Forsythe is mentally stable and does not let the ebb and flow of the season get to him. Even when he seemed to tire in 2009, he was hard at work and not making excuses.
"Offensively, it's there," Jones said. "I think the power will come and there are quite a few players in the majors that power comes after being in the major leagues for a few years. I think he could eventually end up hitting 20 to 25 home runs."
"He's not a big leaguer yet," Spencer said. "But when you look at his makeup and the way he plays third, his presence at the plate, he's got the gift."
"He is probably the most intelligent non-major leaguer I've ever seen," former San Antonio and current Portland manager Terry Kennedy said. "He knows how to play the game. He plays it right every day. He runs the bases. He plays each part of the game as a separate entity: the hitting part, the defense, and the base running. He doesn't let one affect he other, and he's just a very smart guy.
"I see him being an everyday major leaguer on a contending club and this is a great pick for us, and he's going to be an outstanding player."
Conclusion: Forsythe profiles as a number three hitter in the heart of a lineup because of his knack for seeing pitches, giving others a chance to view the pitcher, and his ability to drive the ball with authority. The only hole is his lack of aggression in certain situations. He needs to be a better run producer and that means attacking pitches early in the count. Overcoming that obstacle will have him helping San Diego in short order. He is a bona fide big leaguer with little risk of not attaining that result.
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