Today's rankings feature the top first basemen in the Blue Jays system. If there's one thing in…
Scouting Jays Prospect #39: Josh Kreuzer
Position: First Base
DOB: September 28, 1982
Josh Kreuzer began showing signs of his talent last season, but an injury derailed that momentum. He came into spring training healthy and right from the start showed the Blue Jays his pre-injury 2006 was not a fluke.
Kreuzer finished the season batting .309 in the Florida State League – good enough for fourth in the league. He was also one of two Blue Jays ranked in the top five in home runs. Kreuzer was three home runs behind teammate Jacob Butler, ranking fifth with his 20 home runs.
The first baseman finished the year with thirty four doubles, and ninety-two runs scored. He batted .317 against right-handed pitchers and .286 against left-handed pitchers. Despite having a productive spring training, Kreuzer began the season on the wrong foot with Dunedin – batting just .264 with one home runs. However, he broke through during the month of May. The California native batted .343 with eight home runs over his next twenty-eight games, and continued the momentum into June, batting .351 with three home runs. Kreuzer hit five more home runs in July and three more in August.
Kreuzer was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 16th round of the 2002 draft and joined the Blue Jays as a minor league free agent last season. He batted .257 with seven home runs and thirty-one runs batted in over fifty-two games with Dunedin in 2006.
He will finally break out of Single-A next season when he begins the year with Double-A New Hampshire assuming he has a healthy spring training. Kreuzer turns 25-year-old this month and will certainly need to speed up his path in the minor leagues.
"He has a solid, powerful swing," one scout who saw Kreuzer during spring training told InsideTheDome. "I thought he would have been challenged with a promotion to New Hampshire in August."
"He shows good recognition of the strike zone," another scout said. "It will be interesting to see if he keeps that poise as he moves up to Double-A."
Batting and Power: Krezuer has legitimate major league power and a swing from the right-hand side of the plate to be considered deadly. Even more impressive is the fact that he bats with command as one scout said. Meaning, he has a good eye, and does not over swing, as he thinks just about his power. The 25-year-old first baseman knows how to handle the bat and can use all fields to his advantage. He's a consistent force at the plate, and can also handle right-handed pitching well.
Defense: Kreuzer is an average defender at first base. He's not a liability there for his team, especially considering the offensive power he can bring to the plate. He does not have much range at the position, and has not been extremely comfortable digging balls out from the dirt, but he does hold his own ground at first.
Speed: The 6'5, 235 pounder is not fast, but he is athletic and runs well for his size. He's not a threat to steal bases, but does run the bases well and should not be considered strictly a station to station type of runner.
Projection: Kreuzer will need to move up the ladder rapidly beginning this season because of his advancing age. As a result of his power and offensive threats he will be given every chance to break through the big leagues.
2008 Outlook: He will begin the year at Double-A New Hampshire, but will have to make it into Triple-A by midseason.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note we skipped over prospect #40, Justin James, since he was recently traded by the Blue Jays. This list was complied in October while James was with the organization.
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