The great thing about Winfree is that his statistics do not drop off that much from home to the road. He is a very solid hitter no matter where he plays, but he seems to play a tad better in front of the home fans. In fact, during a seven-game home stand from June 27-July 3, Winfree wrapped 16 hits in 34 at-bats, and drove in an astounding 16 runs.
Kill Righty: Winfree had better success against right-handed pitching in 2005, something uncommon among young right-handed hitters. He batted .299 against righties, as opposed to .272 against lefties, and smashed 13 of his 16 home runs. He also drove in 83 of his 101 runs batted in and collected 23 of his 31 doubles. These statistics can be deceiving, considering he had 334 more at-bats against righties than lefties in 2005.
For most young right-handed hitters, hit is tough to face left-handed pitching. Most guys, especially those who came right out of high school, did not see many lefties while playing amateur ball. Once he moves up in the organization, and starts seeing some good right-handed pitching, you should see him move to being more even with his statistics. However, a .272 batting average against lefties is not bad either, considering he is a big-time power hitting prospect.
Heating Up: Winfree continued to get more consistent at the plate as the season wore on. After failing to eclipse the .300 mark in his first three months, Winfree went on to hit over .300 for the final three. He batted .311 in July, .303 in August, and finished September with a .364 batting average. He also had his biggest runs batted in output during the month of July, when he drove in 29 runs in 29 games.
For any player, whether it be a Major League player, or a Minor League player, it is very important to get better as the season wears on. The impressive thing about Winfree's season is that it was his first season of full-season ball, and he got better at the plate every single month. He was hitting .278 at the end of June, and finished the season with a batting average that hovered near the .300 mark at .294. His .294 average was good enough for fifth in the entire organization among qualifiers.
Needing Visine: If Winfree wants to bat over the .300 mark, he is going to need to work on his batting eye. During the 2005 campaign, the budding slugger walked only 22 times in 135 games, while striking out on 93 occasions. He does not take many pitches, and has a hard time starting rallies. In 274 at-bats with the bases empty, Winfree batted only .248, and struck out 45 times. When leading off an inning, the big third baseman hit only .243, and struck out 15 times in 105 at-bats.
Winfree can usually be found in the third, fourth, or fifth slot, so his manager just wants him to drive in runs. However, if he wants to bat in the third slot at a higher level, he is going to have to learn to have a better batting eye. The home runs and runs batted in are nice, but he needs to become an overall player. If he can just walk 20 more times a year, and strike out 20 less times, he will see a drastic rise in his batting average.
Mr. Clutch: Winfree thrives in the clutch, and that is something you want to see out of a player who bats in the middle of the lineup. When there is a runner on, or someone in scoring position, the Manager can count on Winfree to knock the runner in, or at least get on base. He batted .350 with runners in scoring position this past season, one of the main reasons he drove in an organizational best 101 runs. He also batted .351 with runners in scoring position and two outs, .337 with runners on, and .339 with runners on and two outs.
This is a great sign for a young power hitter, especially someone in only his third season of professional baseball. There is nothing more frustrating for a fan, or a manager, than to see your big bat get out in a big situation. When you have a bat in your lineup that is sure to succeed in the big spot in the game, you are going to score a lot of runs. While he may struggle when there is nobody on base, you can be sure Winfree is driving in a run with a runner on second and two outs. This is one of the qualities that makes him one of the best position player prospects in the entire Twins organization.
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