Top Prospect: Grady Sizemore, of
Age: 21 Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Bats: L Throws: L
Drafted: HS–Everett, Wash., 2000 (3rd round)
Signed by: Scott Goldby (Expos)
Background: Sizemore was considered the third-best prospect in the trade that brought him from Montreal to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon in mid-2002. Since switching organizations, Sizemore has eclipsed infielder Brandon Phillips and lefty Cliff Lee, who came with him from the Expos, and established that he has a higher ceiling than anyone in the system. A high school quarterback who signed a letter of intent with Washington after being recruited by several other Pacific-10 Conference schools, Sizemore gave up football to sign for $2 million. He’s a high-energy, intense competitor who draws comparisons to other football-to-baseball converts such as Kirk Gibson. Sizemore looks like he made the right decision. In 2003, he led Indians minor leaguers in runs and hits, topped the Double-A Eastern League in triples and was named MVP of the Futures Game. He hit .412 as Akron won the EL playoffs, then batted third for Team USA at the Olympic qualifying tournament in November.
Strengths: It has been a long time since a player with this many tools has emerged from the Indians system. Sizemore has the full package, the potential to be a marquee player, and is as close to being an untouchable as the Indians have in their minor league system. He uses the entire field and controls the strike zone well, projecting as a .300 hitter in the majors. His power is coming quicker than expected, as he stroked 13 homers last year after totaling six in his first three seasons. There’s a lot more to come, as he was an EL all-star at the tender age of 20. Sizemore’s speed and center-field range are well-above-average. He’s quick out of the batter’s box and has tremendous baserunning instincts. He’s still learning the art of basestealing but should become at least a 20-20 player as he matures. Along with all his physical skills, Sizemore also has off-the-charts makeup. He’s an aggressive, blue-collar player with a tremendous desire to succeed.
Weaknesses: There are few flaws in Sizemore’s overall game. His arm grades as a 35 on the 20-80 scouting scale, though it’s playable in center field. He compensates by getting to balls and unloading them quickly. Sizemore’s walk rate declined in 2003, though it was still respectable. That seems to be the tradeoff, at least at first, for the increase in power. After succeeding on just 57 percent of his steal attempts the last two years, he must improve his reads and jumps.
The Future: Sizemore isn’t far from being major league-ready at age 21. With a surplus of young outfielders on the major league roster, the Indians have no need to push him and he’ll start 2004 as the center fielder in Triple-A Buffalo. He should make his big league debut at some point during the season.
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