Scouting Twin Prospect #40: Richard Sojo

When Richard Sojo was signed in April of 2002, most experts predicted him as being a Torii Hunter-like player. While he has not quite lived up to that kind of billing, he has steadily progressed as a player, and led the entire farm system in batting average last season. He should make his full-season debut in 2006, and continue to progress as a player. (Free Preview of Premium Content)

When the Twins signed Sojo as a non-drafted free agent on April 23, 2002, many scouts believed that he was a young Torii Hunter. He had tremendous speed, could hit all over the field, and showed decent pop for an 18-year old. While Sojo has yet to live up to that billing, he did have a breakout 2005 season, and could see his professional career take a turn for the best in 2006.

After signing with the Twins, Sojo began his professional career in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2002. He battled through an awful season, as he posted a batting average of .195. In 28 contests, the young outfielder managed only 15 hits, and struck out 28 times.

He would go on to spend the next summer in the Venezuelan Summer League again, only this time he fared even worse. He batted only .193, while playing in 42 contests. After showing signs of power before being signed, Sojo went through his second season without a home run, and struck out 40 times. He did however show off his wheels, as he stole 10 bags.

He made the switch to the Dominican Summer League in2004, and saw much better results. He posted a .294 batting average, and smacked five home runs. He also stole 14 bases, drove in 20 runs, although he continued to struggle with the strikeouts. Still, it was the season the Twins had been waiting for, and he made his short-season debut in 2005.

Now 20-years old, Sojo tore up the Gulf Coast League in 2005. He finished seventh in the league in batting average, with a .318 mark, and was the main bat in the Twins' lineup for most of the season. He also led the team in at-bats (148), runs (36), hits (47), doubles (11), and triples (5).

Organizationally, Sojo led the entire system in batting average, amongst all those players who qualified. And while most team executives have realized he does not have the pop that Hunter has, he is beginning to progress as an all-around player, and could move up the ladder in 2006.

Batting and Power.While he has not lived up to the power hype, Sojo appears to be becoming an all-around hitter. His batting average was a career-high in 2005, and his .318 mark was tops in the organization. One thing he needs to work on his cutting down on the strikeouts, as he has struck out 143 times in 164 career games. However, 2005 was his best strikeout/game ratio, and he seems to be growing up as a hitter. One teammate, who wished to be anonymous, told that he swings from the heels, which is mostly why he strikes out too much.

Base running and Speed.Sojo can fly, and that is the one attribute that draws him most of his comparisons to Torii Hunter. He is a smart base runner, who most scouts say is "downright deadly" on the base paths. In 2005, Sojo stole 10+ bases for the third straight season, and showed speed you do not usually see from a number five hitter. He was caught stealing seven times, but with a runner with his speed, you have to take the good with the bad. He also committed only three errors all season, as he used his speed to track down fly balls that seemed to be doubles.

Defense.Sojo is extremely solid in the outfield, and this year made the transition to right field. As alluded to before, he committed only three errors all season long, and used his strong right arm to pick up six assists. He has all the ability to play centerfield, but seemingly made a natural switch to right, and should continue to play there throughout his career. In 2004 he committed 11 errors, and most scouts agreed he would be more suited as a corner outfielder. It seems they were right.

ETA. 2009. Although he is still young, Sojo needs to start making a serious push in 2006. The 2005 campaign was a great one for him, but it is yet to be seen if he can do it at the full-season level. There was a lot of hype surrounding him when he was first signed, and while most of it has died down, there is still a lot of potential in him. Most scouts believe he could be a good fourth outfielder at the Major League level someday, and if can become a more complete player, he will be just that. Allen Simpson of Baseball America said he has outstanding tools, and he is finally growing into those tools. Look for him to begin the season with Beloit of the Midwest League, and possibly end up in Fort Myers by the end of the season.

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