Friday, December 29, 2006

Prospect Profile: Cody Ehlers (#25)

Age: 24 (25 in April)
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 11th Round in 2003 out of the University of Missouri
Bats: Left

Tools: Cody is a rare small body 1st baseman. While not fast, he has quick reactions and glove work. His arm is strong (he was used as a pitcher on rare occassions in college) and accurate. He lacks slugging power, although has excellent bat control to both gaps. Mostly due to size he does not profile to hit a ton of home runs. His plate discipline is absolutely stellar, showing a mature and systematic approach to the plate. He never gets rattled, hitting very well with runners in scoring position.

Performance: Cody had a mixed college career. He stayed on for four years at Missouri. His freshman and junior years were not strong, but the other two absolutely were. He found his home run stroke as a senior, batting .364/.460/.693/ with 18 home runs (equal to 47 over 162 games). After being drafted, he faltered in short season ball, hitting below .200. Ehlers showed enough to the front office however to bring him back, initially placing him on the Trenton spring training roster. He spent the season in Charleston, posting solid numbers. He was promoted to Tampa late in the season, where he was slow to adjust. But adjust he did, hitting .298/.375/.487 in the extreme pitchers league (suppresses offense by 12%), with 18 home runs and 108 RBIs, while playing excellent defense. He was named Tampa's MVP.

Outlook: Ehlers now faces the challenge of AA. I believe he will do very well there. Hitters relying on raw tools and free swings are usually the ones who die out in AA. Ehlers succeeds more upon excellent mechanics and judgement than tools. He doesn't have a lot of room for error, as 2007 will be his age 25 season. With any luck, he'll be on the 40 man roster in 2008, just an injury away from the majors. Ehlers doesn't project to hit more than 20 home runs, so his starting ability at 1st is questionable, but his solid defense and ability to get on base could give him an opportunity to have a solid career.

Grades: Ceiling C, Health A-, Comparison: Kevin Millar.