Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Classic right field profile with power, patience, athleticism and defense; potential All-Star outfielder.
The Player: Michael Choice (OF, Oakland Athletics) – Played his first full season in the High-A California League. Slugged 30 home runs in the high-octane offensive environment with 28 doubles as well. Did hit .285 with 61 walks in 118 games while striking out 134 times.
Body: Thick, extremely well-built body. Very muscular with broad shoulders, strength in upper and lower arms, thick legs and incredibly strong core. Maintains flexibility despite muscularity. Fills out the uniform and is the kid you pick out when he gets off the bus in street clothes.
Makeup: Diligent with workouts and remains on an even keel during games. Doesn’t carry bad at-bats or defensive misplays to other parts of his game.
Hit: Starts with slightly open stance, has some extra movement in hand load, bringing hands forward slightly and then returning them to the hitting position. Very small stride as part of trigger with odd twist of front foot. Plus-plus bat speed and solid bat control. Will get beat inside by good fastballs but has made adjustments. Will swing and miss a lot due in part to trouble recognizing breaking pitches. Contact issues will likely always exist. Grade – 30/40
Power: Bat speed and more controlled loft to back end of swing (previously showed more of an uppercut) generate tremendous power. Has strength to drive ball to opposite field but gets pull happy at times. Raw power plays very well in game situations despite swing and miss tendencies because when he makes contact he makes extremely hard contact. Grade (raw power) – 60/70
Arm: Not necessarily a classic right field hose but a solid-average arm with good carry and improving accuracy. He gets rid of the ball quickly. Grade – 50/50
Fielding: Solid athlete with decent instincts. Gets good jumps off the bat and takes proper routes most of the time. Capable of playing center field now but likely will slow down an dmove to right field long term. Grade – 50/60
Speed: Average runner now with commensurate home-to-first times. Continues to become more muscular and may lose some speed with added mass. Good instincts on the bases and in the field should help counter any loss of speed. Grade – 50/40
Summation: Potential run producing middle of the order hitter with a good approach, fringe-average hitting skills and plus to plus-plus power. If he can maintain his speed as he matures and stay in center field he could be a legit star. With a move to a corner outfield spot he’s still a potential All-Star caliber player.
Relative Risk: High. Despite a tremendous first full season he carries a high risk level due to the swing and miss in offensive profile. If he doesn’t maintain his approach against more advanced pitchers then the contact problems could manifest in such a way that they hinder the rest of his offensive game and stunt his ultimate potential.
Future: Choice will go to Double-A Midland for the start of the 2012 season. There is precious little standing in the way of his arrival in Oakland but the cost-conscious A’s may be far more inclined to bring him up in 2013 no matter how much he rakes this year. By the end of 2013 he could be flashing the impact offensive potential he has and sometime in 2014 he should be regularly displaying the ability to carry the Oakland offense.