Weight: 180 lbs
Drafted: 3rd round out of High School in 2003
Tools: Battle is all about tools. He has the ability to hit for power, take walks, run like the wind, and throw a cannon. The downside? He strikes out... a lot. Battle illustrates the difference between great walk taking ability and great plate discipline. Battle knows how to take a pitch for a walk, but he does not know how to manipulate the count to drive a ball. Instead, he takes far too many pitches, gets into bad counts, and swings and misses for the strikeout. He has Mike Cameron-like tools. He just needs to learn how to use it.
Performance: The only reason that Battle is not higher up on this list is that he has consistently not performed at the A- level in three years. He came closest in 2005 when he put up a .259/.335/.455 line. His raw power and walking ability were offset by his 195 strikeouts in 134 games. He cut down on the Ks in 2006, but his raw patience and power suffered at the same time, and he still struck out 140 times in the same playing time. On defense however, he has blossomed. Battle was rated the best corner outfielder in organized baseball by minor league baseball.
Outlook: I am pessimistic about Battle. On the surface, his ability to make more contact is a big leap forward. Unfortantely, he lost his ability to drive the ball. Battle certainly has the ability to be a late bloomer, but I wouldn't count on it. He will probably start the season in Charleston, marking his 4th season below Tampa. He is no longer a young toolsy kid who has an excuse. At least his defense is excellent.
Grades: Ceiling A, Health B-, Comparison: Mike Cameron
Friday, December 29, 2006