Name: Jason Pridie
DOB: October 9, 1983
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays rolled the dice when they decided not to protect Pridie in the Rule 5 Draft this past year, and the Twins were quick to pick up the outfield prospect. While they are still working on a deal that would allow Pridie to begin the 2006 season in the Minor Leagues, he bring good depth to the Twins Minor League system. A former second round draft pick, the 2006 season will be Pridie's first full-season since 2004.
After being drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Prescott High School in Arizona, Pridie was assigned to Princeton of the Appalachian League. He got off to a blazing start during his first season of professional baseball, as he hit .368 in 67 games for them. He was then promoted to Hudson Valley of the New York-Penn League, and would hit .344 in eight games for them.
He showed a rare blend of speed and power, and he would quickly be in line for his first taste of full-season ball the following season.
In 2003, Pridie was a member of the Charleston River Dogs of the South Atlantic League. At only 19-years old, Pridie was seen as quite young for the Sally, and his youth showed. He batted only .260 that season, and his seven home runs in 128 games were the same total of dingers he hit in 67 games in the Appalachian League.
It was decided that he would open up the 2004 season again with Charleston, and this time, he was much more prepared both mentally, and physically for a full-season slate. He would end the season as the team's leader in runs, scoring 103 times, and wound up stealing 17 bases. He also lifted his batting average to .278, and smashed ten more home runs than the year before.
Last season, Pridie spent most of his season playing Double-A ball. However, he was hit by the injury bug this past season, as a sprained knee limited him to only 29 games. After he failed to perform well in the Arizona Fall League, the Rays' did not protect him, and he is now a member of the Twins organization..
Batting and Power:As I stated earlier, Pridie has that rare blend of speed and power. Baseball America said he draws some comparisons to Steve Finley, and I believe that is right on. He does strike out too much, and this is mostly due to the fact that he loves to pull the ball. If he can learn to use all areas of the field, he will see a rise in his batting average. If he fails to do that, then he will continue to be plagued by high strikeout totals. If he continues to progress as a batter, he could honestly become a 20/20 man in the big leagues...
Baserunning and Speed:Pridie has above average speed, although some scouts are still concerned about his nagging knee injury from the 2005 season. Still, this is a player who stole 26 bags during the 2003 season, and has 61 stolen bases in 360 career games. When he is at the top of his game, he is getting on base, and causing fits for opposing pitchers. Problem is, he does not get on base at a high rate, which seriously hurts his stolen base totals.
Defense: With his instincts in centerfield, he may be the best overall defensive outfielder in the Minor League system. Those are big words considering how high we are on Denard Span, but his skills in center are that good. He has a good arm, and solid speed, but it is his ability to read the ball coming off the bat that seperates him from your everyday centerfield prospects. With his range in the outfield, he can possibly play all three outfield positions, but the Twins would love to have him as a legitimate backup to Torii Hunter in 2006.
ETA. 2006. If the Twins cannot work on a deal, then they have no choice but to have Pridie on the Opening Day roster in 2006. However, even if he starts off the season in Rochester, there is no doubt that he will be getting a call-up to the Big Leagues in 2006. He has some intangibles that the Twins could use out of a backup outfielder, and if he is fully healthy, then he should put together a good 2006 season. Either way, he is a big pickup for the Twins organization, and he should get a good look during Spring Training.