I knew I wanted to discuss the top tools in the system as a way of recapping the year and initially it was going to be one massive post with just a name next each tool. I thought this format would be more interesting for breaking down the tool itself and why it is important and the ways we judge it.
Power is probably the sexiest tool in baseball right next to fastball velocity. There are few things as visceral as someone crushing a baseball into the stands. Power is a tool that we often wait on in the minors as players develop physically and mentally. We often refer to raw power and power projection and often times they never come along, but when it does it can be special.
In Game Power – Maikel Franco
Honorable Mentions – Zach Green and Dylan Cozens
In game power is what you want to see by the time a player reaches the majors. At its simplest, in game power is the ability to hit a ball really hard when someone is trying to get you out. Franco generates his power with lighting quick hands and great forearm strength. He gets good plane on his swing but it is not a swing that relies on leverage and length. Additionally Franco can hit almost any pitch in any location out of the ball park. He is still driven by dead pull power, but there is certainly the strength to hit them out the other way. It would also be nice if he picked his spots a bit more and got himself into better counts. That being said Franco is showing plus to plus plus in game power right now.
Raw Power – Dylan Cozens
Honorable Mentions – Jose Pujols, Zach Green, Maikel Franco
Raw power is the ability to hit a defenseless ball really far. It is a skill that is really only useful in homerun derbies and batting practice. The big deal about raw power is that it can be a projection of things to come. Somethings that can change this include a suspect hit tool that does not let the batter make consistent, solid contact or the batter is showing you a different swing between BP and games.
As for the 4 names listed, you could make a case for each of them as they all have between 65 and 70 grade raw power, but I went with Cozens here. Cozens is a giant of a human being, and it is almost all frame and muscle. The swing is naturally a bit long because of his size, but not long enough to worry about going forward. What it allows him to do is put huge leverage on a baseball and drive it up and out. The swing itself is a thing of beauty and there is not a lot to change there. He will still needs to work on his approach in order to put himself in a better position to make contact but there is time to work on it. Cozens will go to a notoriously bad HR park, in Lakewood, in 2014 but it is the type of power that should render ball parks irrelevant.
Projected Power – Jose Pujols
Sometimes when looking at a young player you see the parts for power but the strength and mechanics aren’t quite there. This is a situation where good scouting can really pay off as a guy goes from below average raw power to driving balls out of the park (some great examples are Manny Machado, Byron Buxton, and Carlos Correa who are still growing into their strength). Pujols is that and more, someone who watched a ton of him this year put the current raw power at 65, and there is still room on the frame for more strength. Pujols possesses great strength, but it is the bat speed that really separates him from his peers. As he grows and refines his approach Pujols has the potential to have near elite power. For now though we still have better than plus power to dream on.