It's very likely that Jeremy Slayden could have been in the pro ranks as early as 2001 when the Padres drafted him in the 20th round. And three years later, he had another chance when Oakland drafted him in the 18th round. Slayden was smart enough to know that he could move up and trusted in his talent enough to wait it out and look for a better situation. That situation came in 2005 when the Phillies drafted him in the 8th round. The truth is that in each of the years that he was drafted, Slayden's stock might have been higher had it not been for shoulder, back and foot injuries that have slowed him throughout his career. It's likely that the injuries kept him from being as much as a first round draft pick. The Phillies overlooked the injuries and took Slayden higher than where a lot of scouts had him placed.
In 2006, Slayden was finally healthy enough to show what he could do on a baseball field and the Lakewood BlueClaws were the beneficiaries of Slayden's emergence. He put up numbers much more like what the Phillies expected, but strangely enough didn't put up the power numbers that are predicted for him.
Jeremy Slayden's career stats
Acquired: The Phillies drafted Slayden in the 8th round of the 2005 Draft out of Georgia Tech. He had originally been selected by the Padres in the 20th round of the 2001 Draft out of high school and in the 18th round of the 2004 Draft by Oakland.
Batting and Power: Since he was in high school, Slayden's calling card has been his power. There is some concern that his shoulder and back injuries may have caused him to change his swing enough that he won't be the power hitter that he was in the past. Still, Slayden has enough raw talent and power that he should be able to continue to hit homeruns at the pro level. This is a kid who hit 37 homeruns in high school, the second most ever by a Tennessee high school player and just one behind Todd Helton who holds the record for homeruns by a Tennessee high school player. Slayden hit 18 homeruns as a freshman at Georgia Tech, a school record. Injuries limited him to 15 homeruns over his next three seasons. Slayden also finished his college career with a .329 average, so he knows how to swing a bat.
Baserunning and Speed: Slayden doesn't have a lot of speed, but at least he knows it and doesn't get himself into trouble on the bases. In fact, Slayden is generally a pretty smart baserunner and can grab an extra base here and there when he gets the chance. He's also got enough speed to swipe an occasional base, but it's not how he'll make his money.
Defense: Slayden has solid defensive skills and makes all of the routine plays. Because of his injury problems which have hurt his speed and arm strength, Slayden's likely to be limited to playing primarily in left field as a pro.
Projection: After putting up good numbers at Lakewood, the Phillies are likely to move Slayden to Clearwater for the 2007 season. There is little doubt that he can handle the move, but the Phillies will be especially interested in seeing what type of power numbers he can produce. Slayden has plenty of potential and should be able to put up all of the numbers that the Phillies are looking for and possibly more.
Comparison: Scouts compare Slayden to a young, left-handed Pat Burrell. The biggest difference is that Slayden has had a lot of injuries that have slowed his progress, which Burrell didn't have early in his career. Mayby Slayden got his injury problems out of the way early and will stay healthy from here on out.