Position: Second Baseman
After being drafted in the 24th and 26th rounds by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 and 2006 respectively, Kaiser finally signed after going in the 15th round to the Detroit Tigers. As a two-year starter for the Oklahoma Sooners, Kaiser's decision to transfer to NAIA Oklahoma City University was quite a shock. During his freshman season at OU, Kody hit .305 with ten home runs and 13 steals, on the road to earning 2nd Team Freshman All-American, Honorable Mention All-Big 12, and All-Oxford Regional. During his second season with the Sooner, Kody continued to build on his freshman success; hitting .306 with 42 RBI, and leading the squad with five triples.
As expected, Kaiser dominated the NAIA ranks, notching a .425/.523/.865 line for Oklahoma City; a line that included 18 home runs, 63 RBI, 35 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. He concluded his first campaign with OCU by taking home NAIA All-American honors.
As a high school player at Edmond Santa Fe in Edmond, Oklahoma, Kaiser dominated the circuit. As a senior, he set school single season and career records for homeruns and runs driven in; launching 19 bombs as a senior. While hitting .433 as a senior at Santa Fe, Kody took home Class 6A All-Tournament honors, along with being named Oklahoman Big All-City and Edmond Sun Player of the Year. During his junior season, Kody was named to the Honorable Mention Big All-City and Oklahoma Junior Sunbelt Teams after hitting .416 with 42 RBI, and notching a 4-2 record with a 2.63 ERA and six saves.
Kaiser is a true five-tool talent, but he rarely gets credit for it because of his small stature. At only 5-foot-8 (generously), Kody lacks the prototypical size of today's ball player; but that doesn't stop him from flashing impressive talent in all phases of the game. As an outfielder throughout college, Kaiser demonstrated tremendous instincts and great speed in getting to balls in the gaps. His defense in the outfield could play at any level, and his arm strength was above-average for left and center fields.
As a pro, he will transition to second base, where many scouts have felt his tools profile quite well. In the few games I saw of him at second, he flashed good range and a very strong arm. His reactions are solid, but he must learn the nuances of the position; when to challenge the ball, when to com around the back side to get a better throwing angle, etc. He was a little slow and tentative on the double play, but that should improve with experience.
Offensively, Kaiser's skills belie his size. He generates very good power from both sides of the plate, and has a smooth, quick stroke from both boxes. Despite his small stature, he generates incredible bat speed and good leverage in his swing, driving balls to all fields, and pummeling any pitch thrown his way. He likely profiles as a 18-20 home run guy annually at the highest level. His approach is sound, and he recognizing pitches well. He keeps the bat in the zone for extended stretches of time, allowing him to hit for a very good average. He is a quick runner, having been clocked as fast as 6.58 seconds in the 60-yard dash. His base running instincts help his speed "play up" as he gets great reads on both lefties and righties.
Kaiser's passion for the game is blatantly evident on the field, as he is an all-out type of player. His work ethic is off the charts, and there is little doubt about his desire to be a Major League ball player. With his skill set and desire, Kody is a solid bet to outplay his appearance and become a legitimate prospect. His ceiling looks like a Kelly Johnson type player with a good all-around game at second base.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Despite his aggressive style of play, Kaiser has been healthy throughout his collegiate career. He is a strong physical specimen, who should avoid nagging injuries as he moves up the ladder.
In the O-Tigers' opening series at Lowell, Kaiser looked comfortable and confident at the plate, spraying line drives to all fields with ease. His transition to second base looked to be progressing smoothly, as he made a few very difficult plays look easy over the course of the three-game set. He needs refinement at the keystone, but the tools are there to become a solid defender.
Kaiser has a generally polished game, but because of the defensive switch the Tigers are likely to be cautious with his advancement through the system. Expect him to spend the entire season at Oneonta, before moving on to West Michigan for the 2008 campaign. If his bat continues to pound the ball as he had in college, he could force the issue and see Lakeland by the close of the '08 season.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.