Projecting the future performance of a prospect is a crapshoot at best. Skill sets and tools are for paper; however, the game is played on the field. Yet, there are times when players come up who seem to be as close to “sure things” as possible. In my opinion, I think that both Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals are exceptional talents who should have long careers in the Majors. But if you were a GM, which one would you build a franchise around?
Pros for Trout
1. Blazing speed – Trout has first class speed, and it translates well in the outfield and on the base paths. He is a legitimate threat to steal 50 bases per season in his prime. 2. Long leash – The Angels made it clear when they released Bobby Abreu that they were going to be sticking with Trout for better or worse. They are depending on him to come into the top of that rotation and frequently set the table for their thumpers.
Cons for Trout
1. Lacking the two hitting tools – As good as he is in the field and on the bases, he has not shown that he can hit for power or average. Of course, with his speed, it seems likely that he will hit for more average as his career continues. 2. Speed will wane – As with all speedsters, eventually the wheels stop turning like they used to. He will have to make sure that he improves his hitting skills enough to warrant staying at the top of a Major League lineup.
Pros for Harper
1. Major power potential – Harper’s mammoth HRs while in high school and college have already become legendary. He definitely has the makeup of a hitter who can smash 40-plus HRs in multiple seasons in his prime. 2. Four legitimate tools – Harper possesses great power and has the ability to hit for a high batting average and get on base. He is also an above-average defensive outfielder with a rocket arm and will provide value on both sides of the ball.
Cons for Harper
1. Attitude/personality concerns – Harper has showed up opposing players and umpires in a few notable instances, and he seems to have really bought into his own hype. It will be interesting to see how veterans handle his bravado and whether or not the confidence could actually help him. 2. Limited professional experience – His limited time in the minors could stunt his overall development.
My best GM Impression
As much as I am concerned about the attitude issues, I would have to select Harper to build around for three main reasons: 1. Lineup placement - He projects to be a 3/4-hole hitter. These hitters are invaluable to a club when they produce on a regular basis. It’s not often that you can market or build an entire team around a leadoff hitter. 2. Major upside – It is still to be seen whether or not he will live up to the hype, but it does seem like Harper has the ability to measure up. If he shows an ability to respond positively to coaching and criticism, he could be untouchable. 3. Position flexibility – The Nats made the best decision possible by immediately moving him to the outfield. Down the line, he could be moved to 1B, where there will be even less wear and tear on his body.
The debate gauntlet has been thrown down. Let me hear what you think! Hit me up on Twitter @KyleOKC.