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Matt Kemp

I am going to do a bit of a retrospective on Dodgers' rookie outfielder Matt Kemp.  This was inspired by this diary by Fake Teams user Chrisref19.

In the diary, he asks for a ranking of some young outfielders i.e. Delmon Young, Nick Markakis, Carlos Quentin, Chris Young.  Amongst them is Matt Kemp, a player whose last impression upon me was a negative one.

In late June, I went through the self-flagellation of figuring out how I missed Matt Kemp in my two-round minor league draft:


So why did I select Andrew McCutcheon and Eric Patterson over Matt Kemp?

Simply, Kemp did not walk enough.  25 BBs and 92 Ks in more than 418 ABs at High A was the deciding factor.

With McCutcheon, I gambled that he'd breakout this year and be a hot property in 2007 for bail trades.  

Eric Patterson is the top 2B in the Cubs organization and he looked to have conquered the one flaw his brother had - the inability to take pitches.  His plate discipline had improved at Georgia Tech from his freshman year to his junior one.  It expectedly decreased once he joined the Cubs but it was not alarming - 53 BBs in 432 ABs.  And he stole 43 bases in 56 attempts with 13 HRs.

Given the better plate discipline and greater SB numbers, I decided upon Patterson over Kemp.

I have been incorrect so far.

By July 3rd, I had begun to correct my earlier judgment:

Matt Kemp struck out three more times yesterday.  This brings his total to 34 in 100 ABs along with 8 BBs. In his last 10 games, he is 9-38 with 16 strikeouts and 2 BBs.

And one week later, my judgment solidified:

Following my blurb on Matt Kemp, he went 2-12 with four strikeouts and no HRs, which extends the drought begun on June 15th.  There is nothing to indicate he will recover from the adjustment the league has made to him.

A week later this:

Matt Kemp was sent down when the Dodgers activated Ricky Ledee.  I guess no HRs, no BBs, and enough Ks for a David Duke political rally would do that.

When Kemp was sent back to AAA in mid-July, he still had the seven HRs hit when he took the fantasy baseball/minor league prospect world by storm.

He was recalled in September and has done little to change my negative impression.  In that time, he is 4-26 with a walk and 7 strikeouts.

For the season, he is hitting 257/294/459 with those same seven HRs and 48 strikeouts versus 9 walks.

As a prospect, his age cannot be forgotten.  He turned 22 last week.  I am undetered that he will be a contributing major leaguer and fantasy player.  I am only unsure of when.  2007?  2008?  2009?

In addition to his age, he also improved his minor league performance by successfully hitting in both AA and AAA.  Combined he struck out just 64 times and drew 37 walks in almost the same number of ABs he had in High A.

His minor league power did drop to 10 HRs but the speed remained (25 SBs).

As for McCutcheon, the Pirates jumped the 19-year-old to Double AA, and he did quite well - .308/.379/474 in 78 ABs.

Eric Patterson received a late promotion to AAA and availed himself nicely, too - .358/395/493 in 67 ABs with 8 SB.

With my eagle-eye hindsight, I am comfortable with the decisions I made in selecting McCutcheon and Patterson over Kemp.

Update [2006-9-27 16:18:42 by Eric Hz]: From today's ESPN chat with Jim Callis:

Nomah (Richmond, VA.): Hey Jim, Andrew McCutchen didn't seem to skip a beat after the Pirates jumped him to Double-A. Could he arrive in Pittsburgh sometime next season?

Jim Callis: He could. He sometimes gets lost in the crowd of talented outfielders from the first round of the 2005 draft, but McCutchen is one of the game's best prospects and has more power than fans may realize.

sam -Tennessee: McCutchen or Upton?

Jim Callis: Is that Justin Upton? Give me McCutchen.