2004 MLB Draft Preview: OF, Danny Putnam

With the draft only a little less than week away, everyone around the Major Leagues is commenting on the great amount and quality of the pitchers that will be in this year's 2004 MLB Draft. Now, one has to ask them self, with all the talk of the pitchers are there any top draft prospects that could one day be star hitters? The answer is yes, there are plenty of them and they will also be making an impact on the 2004 draft. Now, let's take a look at one of these hitters, Danny Putnam.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Danny Putnam
DOB: September 17, 1982
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 200
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
College: Stanford University

Danny Putnam is expected to be one of the top two or three position players to go in this years draft despite all the pitching talent in the lottery. He will likely be selected as one of the first 25 picks and whatever team does get him, will get a true ballplayer. Danny Putnam has been the heart and soul of the Stanford Cardinals for the past three years, hitting, playing in the field and on the bases. Over these four years, he has become most well known for his passion for the game and all out aggressiveness. According to just about anyone that knows Putnam would tell you that he has blossomed into one of best amateur outfielders in the nation.

Out of high school, Danny Putnam was already a highly touted as a future star as he graduated out of Rancho Bernardo High School in California. In fact, back in 2001 in his senior year at Rancho Bernardo, Putnam was named the High School Player of the year in the state of California. That season he put up purely remarkable statistics, batting an amazing .500 with 19 home runs, 48 RBI, 19 stolen bases and a staggering 1.161 slugging percentage. His goals were sky-high out of high school and he dreamt of the big leagues but the fact was he was heading to Stanford University because of his athletic and academic promise. "I set a goal in high school to achieve the highest level academically and athletically," Putnam explained. "Stanford is the best program to achieve the best in both areas." Speaking with the Stanford website in his freshman year Putnam had to say this about his career as a ballplayer. "My dream ever since I've been playing baseball has been to be a good player in the Big Leagues and that hasn't changed even though I am in school." Danny Putnam has often been called a student of the game because of intense on-field attitude, ability to make improvements and the passion he has for the sport. In regards to that, the Stanford student had to say this. "The most fun thing is just coming out and playing the game because I'm not as excited about getting an 'A' on a test as I am about getting a couple of hits in a game."

To a player like Putnam that plays the game day in and day out like it was his last day on earth, the sub-par season he had in his freshman year at Stanford was much to his displeasure but he was able to remain optimistic about his future. "I have to have the confidence and everyone has to have the confidence in themselves that when you go into the game, not only do you deserve to be there but you are also going play well and that your talent will allow you to help the team. Without that confidence, you are going to limit your chances out there," said Putnam. Well Putnam did remain confident, coming back in his sophomore year to have a monster campaign. As a sophomore, he batted .348 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI to go along with a fantastic .423 OBP. After his superb season in 2003, Putnam was awarded the honor of playing for Team USA. He showed his great passion for the game and was appreciative of the honor. Commenting on his experience, he said "Playing for Team USA was a phenomenal experience. There is no bigger honor than to play for my country. If baseball didn't work out, then I'd serve my country in the military. It was an honor to grab onto a bigger playing thing than just myself." He played phenomenally, as he always seems to do, with Team USA as well. Putnam batted .321 with 2 home runs and 22 RBI in yet another experience to add to his already impressive resume.

In this, his junior year at Stanford, Putnam has taken on a new role as not just a phenomenal player but an emotional and on-field leader." I'm a leader this year, so I'm more responsible for the team's success. (Success) means I'm playing well and helping lead the team," Putnam said at the start of the 2004 season. Before the season began, he was named to Baseball America's First Team Preseason All-American team. This sweet swinging lefty has as he always has, led by example with hard-nose play backed up by phenomenal skills. So far this season, Putnam has a .389 batting average with 14 home runs and 51 RBI. Also, he has gotten even more patient at the plate, raising his OBP to an incredible .464 for the season. Even though his sites are firmly set on the big leagues, Putnam still understands his responsibility to his team. This shows a possible team leader in the future of the Major Leagues even at 22 years old. "I learned from a young age how to compete and to have a healthy attitude towards competing and doing my best," Putnam told the Stanford website. "I've come to see things as an opportunity or a challenge instead of an obstacle."

Danny Putnam has been constantly told and complimented on his passion for the game that reminds many of Pete Rose but with better natural tools. Putnam told The Barnstable Patriot about one of these instances. "A coach said I have a childlike excitement about the game." In Putnam's words, he says "I have a love and respect for the game". "I want to play it the right way." There is great reason to believe that with his attitude and respect towards the sport to go along with tremendous skills that include plate discipline, base running savvy, an explosive bat and aggressive play in the field that this focused, 22 year old ballplayer will go high in the first round of the 2004 draft and be an impact player in the Major Leagues down the road. In fact, that is the exact goal he has set for himself. In an interview with the school website, he had to say this. "My goal has always been to be an impact player in the big leagues." The bottom line is that he is not the only one that thinks that he can do just that.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

R

BB

SO

SB

2002

Stanford

.212

66

14

4

2

1

10

12

4

8

2

2003

Stanford

.348

230

80

17

0

16

66

52

26

31

0

2004

Stanford

.389

221

85

10

3

14

51

58

31

29

5


* Stats as of 5/27/04

Batting and Power. Danny Putnam is not a monstrous figure at the plate at 5' 11" but the fact is that he is built like a tank. He has a hulking upper body with sloped, broad shoulders and strong forearms to along with the use of his lower half. Putnam as a well filled out frame that looks like that of Mickey Mantle. The ball absolutely explodes off his bat and he has tremendous bat speed through the zone. Can hit the ball to all fields and do so with great power. Very compact swing and he makes excellent contact and keeps his strikeouts low. Putnam gets excellent extension and he is always aggressive and shows no fear at the plate. Throwback type of player with the bat, showing Pete Rose type passion. He has pure, raw power and projects to be a hitter with a high average and big-time power numbers in the Majors.

Base Running and Speed. Putnam does not have a huge amount of speed but he is not slow by any means. He can get around on the base paths and is one of the best overall base runners in the draft. Aggression and savvy on the bases are one of his strongest points. Putnam has forced himself to be a good base runner and can steal some bases here and there.

Defense. Danny Putnam is not an upper tier outfielder defensively and most of his talent is offensively related. However, he makes all of the routine plays in the outfield and has a decent throwing arm. A highly serviceable outfielder that will make any play that should be made. Putnam will not be of gold glove caliber but he should turn out to be a solid player on defense at any level he plays at.

Projection. There seems to be little doubt in anyone's mind including Putnam himself that one day he will not only be a Major League player but an impact player. There is more than a strong chance that Putnam could be an All-Star caliber power hitting outfielder not too long from now. Potentially, he could be a .300+ hitter and 30+ home run power and .400+ OBP patience. Anyone who lands this stud prospect, could be snagging a perennial all-star for years to come.

Comparison. Brian Giles. Danny Putnam and Giles both have a similar build in that they are both stocky with broad shoulders and a firm base. Both have a pure, sweet, left handed stroke that produces big hits. Giles and Putnam have a wide, opened stance with a quick compact strokes as well.

Draft Possibilities. There will be many teams that will consider taking this passionate sweet swinging ballplayer in the 2004 MLB Draft. One team that has publicly expressed their interest are the Toronto Blue Jays. Adopting the Billy Beane philosophy, they are impressed with his patience and OBP. Considering that, the Oakland A's and New York Yankees should show significant interest as well.

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