BLUF: Switch hitter with power and defense, but must improve hitting ability to reach ceiling.
The Player: Kaleb Cowart (3B, Los Angeles Angels) – Picked by the Angels in the 1st round in 2010, signing late and playing in only seven rookie-level games that season. Debuted with Orem as a 19-year old in 2011, hitting .283/.345/.420 in 72 games. Knocked 12 doubles, three triples and seven home runs with a 1:3 walk to strikeout ratio. Began the 2012 season with Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, hitting .293/.348/.479 in 66 games. Recently promoted to High-A and has hit .286 over first five games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 200): Plus body. Well built with god strength throughout. Not a fast-twitch athlete but solid athletically. Moves well on field and is coordinated. Good balance in all phases of game. Has room to fill out more without hampering his play.
Hit: Good balance at the plate but aggressive swing tendencies get him out front a long, leading to weak too much weak contact. Swing is more fluid as RHH but both swings generate plus bat speed. Has some pitch recognition issues and will need to develop better approach to become an average hitter. Hands work well but he doesn’t always stay on the ball and will get pull happy at times. Potential fringe-average to average hitter with a fair number of strikeouts. Grade – 30/50
Power: Good raw from both sides of the plate. Takes a power hitter’s approach to hitting and when he connects, he can drive it out of any park, particularly to the pull side. Power is largely bat speed related now, but he has added loft since high school and he can lift the ball out of the park with swing mechanics and bat speed. Gets power conscious at times and will be better served to trust natural strength rather than loading up to drive ball. Grade (raw power) – 60/60
Arm: Excellent arm for the position. Earns consistent plus grades and will show a plus-plus arm when he sets his feet and lets it fly. Accuracy and consistent throwing mechanics/footwork are of significant concern. Good enough athlete to see improvement in these areas. Arm could play at a plus-plus level down the line. Grade – 60/70
Fielding: Moves well at the position. Good first step and he reacts quickly on balls to both sides. Still a little raw when reading hops and ranging further away from his starting point. Solid athleticism allows him to make plays on the move. Good hands. Down and dirty style that plays well and allows him to overcome some weaknesses in his game. Potential to be an average defender who could make a few extra plays because of his arm and effort. Grade – 30/50
Speed: Consistent average runner down the line. Will occasionally show better than that on a dig and can also struggle to get out of the box quickly when he sells out for power. Has room for more mass on his frame and is likely a below-average runner long term. Grade – 50/40
Summation: Prototypical 3B profile. Offensive potential hinges on development of pitch recognition and offensive approach. Has plenty of bat speed and strength to generate power. Doesn’t need to sell out for extra-base hits and could mature enough to be an average hitter with plus power down the line. If hitting ability doesn’t come along, still has value as slugging third baseman with good defense, possibly hitting fifth or sixth in a lineup. Hard worker with a hard-nosed approach to the game. Potential above-average regular if the offensive ability approaches his projected ceiling.
Relative Risk: High. Hitting ability remains unrefined and there are questions about how much of his power profile will translate. Early signs are positive but risk profile is still high.
Future: Reaching High-A this year has the potential to accelerate his big league ETA. A strong showing in the California League could push him to Double-A to start 2013 and put him on the big league radar for 2014. The Angels don’t have a long term commitment at third base and Cowart could be in line to take over at the position in 2014.