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Chase Headley

Last Friday, the San Diego Padres recalled their top hitting prospect, 3B Chase Headley, from AA San Antonio. He had been tearing-up the league to the tune of 357/433/648 and had already surpassed his 2006 unimpressive California League HR total of 12. This was clearly a case of a prospect making improvements.

From The Baseball Prospect Book 2007 by John Sickels:

...one really strong skill: strike zone judgment...I think he'll maintain his batting avergae and on-base percentage as he moves up. The question is power...He's got a decent arm at thrid base, but his range is just average...Scouts praise his work ethic...

From the Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2007:

Headley stands out most with his outstanding pitch recognition...a plus arm and clean hands...intelligent and a strong make-up...he could push Kevin kouzmanoff fromt hird base to left field when he's ready
Both prospect experts saw a good OBP player with unimpressive power. This made me think of Kevin Youkilis, another prospect who was a low power/high OBP player with workman-like defensive skills. However, Youkilis did not strikeout at the levels Headley did in High A - 96 times. Nor in AA where Chase struck out 53 times in 227 ABs versus Youkilis' 58 in AA or 77 in AAA. This made me check Youkilis contact rates, and they support those figures.

What was notable, though, was the drop in Youkilis' contact rates at AAA and in the majors. They look to have settled in the 80% area. While Headley does not possess those high 80s contact rates now, there is no reason to say he won't be able to match an 80% rate now. If so, then a Kevin Youkilis comparable doesn't seem unfair.

Chase Headley

Year Team Lg Age Level AB XBH HR RBI SB BB SO AVG OBP SLG CR BABIP
2005 Eugene Nwest 21 A- 220 23 6 33 1 34 48 0.268 0.375 0.441 78.2% 0.319
2005 Fort Wayne Midw 21 A 15 0 0 1 0 1 4 0.2 0.25 0.2 73.3% 0.273
2006 Lk Elsin Calif 22 A+ 484 45 12 73 4 74 96 0.291 0.389 0.434 80.2% 0.343
2007 San Antonio Tex 23 AA 227 37 13 42 1 31 53 0.357 0.433 0.648 76.7% 0.422

Kevin Youkilis

Year Team Lg Age Level AB XBH HR RBI SB BB SO AVG OBP SLG CR BABIP
2001 Lowell NYPL 22 A- 183 19 3 28 4 70 28 0.317 0.512 0.464 84.7% 0.362
2001 Augusta SAL 22 A 12 0 0 0 0 3 3 0.167 0.375 0.167 75.0% 0.222
2002 Augusta SAL 23 A 53 5 0 6 0 13 8 0.283 0.433 0.377 84.9% 0.333
2002 Sarasota FSL 23 A+ 268 19 3 48 0 49 37 0.295 0.422 0.388 86.2% 0.333
2002 Trenton East 23 AA 160 15 5 26 5 31 18 0.344 0.462 0.5 88.8% 0.365
2003 Portland East 24 AA 312 30 6 37 7 86 40 0.327 0.487 0.465 87.2% 0.361
2003 Pawtucket IL 24 AAA 109 5 2 15 0 18 21 0.165 0.295 0.248 80.7% 0.186
2004 Lowell NYPL 25 A- 4 2 0 0 0 2 0 0.75 0.857 1.5 100.0% 0.750
2004 Pawtucket IL 25 AAA 154 15 3 18 2 19 28 0.266 0.35 0.403 81.8% 0.309
2005 Pawtucket IL 26 AAA 152 24 8 27 1 35 29 0.322 0.459 0.592 80.9% 0.357
2004 Boston MLB 25 MLB 208 18 7 35 0 33 45 0.26 0.367 0.413 78.4% 0.301
2005 Boston MLB 26 MLB 79 8 1 9 0 14 19 0.278 0.4 0.405 75.9% 0.356
2006 Boston MLB 27 MLB 569 57 13 72 5 91 120 0.279 0.381 0.429 78.9% 0.335