Scouting Yankee Prospect #15: Jonathan Poterson

The Yankees drafted Jonathan Poterson as a supplemental 1st-round pick in the 2004 MLB Draft, 37th overall, out of Chandler High School in Arizona. Growing up as a switch-hitting catcher, Poterson has perhaps the highest power projection of any Yankee farmhand. It is this reason Poterson ranks #15 among the Top 50 Yankees' Prospects.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jonathan Poterson
Position: Outfield
DOB: February 10, 1986
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 215
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

Let's get this out of the way immediately: Jonathan Poterson may have more power projection than anyone else in the entire Yankees' farm system. "He was the strongest kid on the team and just hits absolute bombs", says fellow GCL teammate Jason Stephens. Prized pitching prospect Christian Garcia was also impressed with Poterson's power. "Poterson has more power potential than anybody I've ever seen", Garcia told PinstripesPlus.com.

Growing up a lifelong Yankees' fan because his father was a Yankee fan, Poterson grew up in Brentwood on Long Island before his family moved out to Arizona when he was five years old. Poterson first hit the prospect scene as a junior for Chandler High School in Arizona when he hit a very respectable .465 with six homeruns, but really turned the collective heads of Major League scouts his senior year. Despite playing through a hamstring injury as a senior, Poterson hit .431 with 14 homeruns and carried his hot hitting into the pre-draft workouts at Yankee Stadium where the Yankees fell in love with his power.

Showing his power was for real, Poterson was crushing ball after ball into the right field upper deck at Yankee Stadium before the draft, cementing his status as a future Yankee farmhand. "Even, though I knew I had that kind of power, it just felt special that I was able to do that. Just playing where all those great players have was special but actually hitting balls out of there into the upper deck was unreal", Poterson told us.

Drafted out of Chandler High School as a switch-hitting catcher, Poterson started switch-hitting when he was just nine-years old. Not wanting to put anymore stress on his sore hamstrings after being drafted, the Yankees moved Poterson to left field in the Gulf Coast League after he signed with the Yankees for $925,000. Poterson struggled early on in his professional debut, but finished up the 2004 season strong. "People look at his batting average last year and don't realize that he was hitting something like .060 mid-way through the season", said Christian Garcia. "Poterson's just a hitter. You can tell that by how much improved down the stretch. He was our best hitter at the end of the season. He's a great hitter to all fields and he'll put up some huge power numbers. As a hitter, he reminds me of Chipper Jones, especially from the left side of the plate. He's going to be great."

In fact, Poterson has already drawn comparisons to several of the game's great hitters. Jason Stephens thinks Poterson looks like another great power hitting outfielder. "He kind of reminds me of Lance Berkman. You know, a switch-hitting outfielder that hits for a lot of power", said Stephens. As if being compared to Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones wasn't enough, Evan Tierce, one of Poterson's fellow outfielders on the GCL Yankees last season, went one step further. "He kind of reminds me of Albert Pujols. They both have the same short follow through in their swings", said Tierce. "If he learns to put the ball on the bat more his upside is ridiculous. He has good speed for a guy his size and he is very teachable. The thing that impressed me the most about him was his clutch performance. He always came through in the big situations and was not fazed at all when the pressure was its highest."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2004

GCL

.202

198

7

7

30

24

1

22

60

.280

.354


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. Forget the .202 average Poterson posted in his professional debut last season. He's a much better hitter than his 2004 average indicates. Poterson put a little too much pressure on himself in the early going, causing him to over-swing at times. He's got plus power from both sides of the plate and uses all fields when he's hitting. Poterson is a more patient hitter than his strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests. Even still, Poterson led the GCL team in walks last season. As is the case with most young sluggers, Poterson simply needs more experience. Poterson projects to be a .300 hitter in his prime with fantastic power. He has the ability to hit 35+ homeruns as he matures.

Base Running and Speed. Poterson has very good speed as a catcher, but has average speed as an outfielder. Considering he is as strong as they come, Poterson is very athletic and can move well for a big kid. Poterson has natural base running instincts. He won't be a catalyst on the base paths, but he won't be a liability either.

Defense. Drafted as a catcher out of high school, it remains to be seen if Poterson will be used as a catcher by the Yankees down the road. The early prognosis is Poterson will remain in the outfield to better utilize his hitting skills. Defensively in the outfield, Poterson is a work in progress. He has good natural ability but needs to learn to take better routes on balls hit his way. Poterson does have a very good arm as a result of playing catcher most of his life, so he does possess one plus tool in the outfield.

Projection. It is hard to imagine that Poterson will be moved back to catcher, simply because of his hitting potential. That said, the Yankees may be tempted to move him back behind the plate as a result of trading top-catching prospect Dioner Navarro to the Diamondbacks. Right now however, Poterson projects to be a starting left fielder someday, hitting in the heart of the order. Poterson's overall hitting potential, especially in the power department, project him to be a top run producer at the Major League level. He has All-Star caliber talent. Poterson just needs to tap that potential and progress like everybody thinks he can. 2005 could be a breakout year for Poterson and he could have a meteoric rise in the prospect rankings next season. He has that kind of talent!

ETA. 2008. Despite great power potential, Poterson will still only be 19-years old when the 2005 season opens up. With a strong Spring Training, Poterson should land in low-A ball with the Charleston Riverdogs. That would put him on a pace, barring serious injury, of reaching the Majors by 2008 when he'll still only be 22-years old.


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