Our First Baseman: Casey Kotchman

At least Kotchman is easier to spell than Teixeira. At the risk of getting told not to, I'm going to post some snippets from Baseball America's evaluation of our new first baseman Casey Kotchman.

Here is a snippet of his evaluation from 2004 (when he was ranked as the top prospect in the Angels system):

Kotchman has a fluid swing in the classic lefthander’s mold of a Todd Helton or Will Clark, and he creates explosive contact with the fat part of the bat on a consistent basis...

He projects to hit 25-plus homers a year. Defensively, he’s as good as any first baseman in the minors, combining good instincts, accurate throws and excellent footwork around the bag. Growing up around pro clubhouses with his father, Kotchman was well prepared for pro ball.

Interestingly, the BA review uses some of the same or similar info for his 2005 review (when he was again ranked as the top prospect in the Angels system):

Kotchman has more walks (116) than strikeouts (100) as a pro and manages the balance between selectivity and aggressiveness better than any hitter in the minors...

He projects to hit at least 20-25 homers annually once he learns when to lift the ball. He is smooth around the bag at first and is a future Gold Glover.

Those are some snippets of the good reviews, but among those reviews are worries about Kotchman staying healthy -- apparently a problem he had during his stint in the minors. Kotchman has been relatively healthy the last couple of years in the majors, so many of those injury fears have been dispelled.

Certainly Kotchman is having a bit of an off-year this year, as all his component averages were better last season than this season. We are trading for his ability and his future projection as much (if not more) than his current numbers. Kotchman's father is a long-time Angels player development executive and scout with the Angels, so one wonders if getting him out from under that comfort zone will energize him or make him regress.

The one certain positive of this trade is that Kotchman is at least an improving young first baseman who we have under contract for the next two years -- that's enough time for Freddie Freeman or someone else to emerge as the long-term firstbaseman of the future. In the meantime we have the possibility of having a former first-rounder blossom in a Braves uniform -- Kotchman was the 13th overall selection in the 2001 draft -- that's higher than any current Braves player not on the DL.

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