If you were even mildly interested in the Arizona Fall League, you’ve surely heard of everyone’s favorite outfielder that they had barely heard of before November.
We’re talking, of course, about Josh Prince.
Prince came out of left field – well, technically center field – to become one of the most intriguing names in the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League affiliations. What should we be expecting from him in 2013?
Last year, Prince spent 137 games in Hunstville as a member of the Brewers’ AA affiliate. During that time, he hit only .251, ut set career high marks in doubles (28), home runs (7), runs batted in (55), and walks (74). He had an OPS of .706 and nearly doubled his total bases to 182, up from 96 the prior season in Brevard County with the Advanced A club.
All of this was just a primer for what fans could expect in the Arizona Fall League, where Josh Prince was selected to play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs with some of the best prospects in Major League Baseball.
In Phoenix, Josh Prince blew up. He hit .404 during the AFL season and led all players with 36 hits. He finished with an astonishing .491 On-Base Percentage – even for the small sample size – and even stole 10 bases. There was barely an aspect of the game that Prince didn’t come through on for the team, made even more apparent by the dismal performance of the Desert Dogs as a team.
But that’s ancient history now.
Over the winter, Josh Prince was moved to the 40-man roster as a protective measure. By making a member of the 40-man, the Brewers shielded themselves from losing the 24 year-old in the Rule 5 draft. It also means that the team sees a future in the young man.
What will that future be?
According to scouts, they see him being a gap-hitter with low power potential, and possibly a threat on the base paths if he can get better at his lead-offs and jumps off of pitchers. Prince has stolen 147 bases in four Minor League seasons, but has been caught an equally jarring number of 49 times.
In other words, there’s a huge gap from potential to reality in terms of what Prince would go up against in the Major Leagues. While he may have some wheels on him, he needs to spend less time spinning them in the dirt and more time sending them down the line.
In terms of his hitting ability, he seems to have a naturally good eye at the plate. He has a career OBP in the Minors of .333, and though his batting average seems to be in constant flux he has never had a problem getting on base on any level he’s been at prior. I doubt highly that his power will ever come in greater numbers than it sits right now, but his ability to hit to gaps coupled with his speed makes that almost unnecessary. His closest comparisons, from my perspective, would be a mix of Carlos Gomez with the plate discipline of Norichika Aoki. Not a bad combo.
You can expect Josh Prince to spend a lot of his 2013 campaign in Nashville with some of the other people we will be looking at in future iterations of this series. Here we will be able to see if Prince is more Flavor of the Month than Future of the Team. Either way, there’s little doubt that he will be an exciting player to watch this season, and maybe in Milwaukee in the near future.