Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Prospect Countdown: #4 Hunter Dozier

4. Hunter Dozier Third Baseman


Age: 22
Position: 3B
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st Round of the 2013 Amateur Draft
From: Denton, TX

Landon Adams (5): Many scoffed when Hunter Dozier's name was called 8th overall on June 8, 2013. It didn't take long for the well informed to put two and two together and realize that the Royals were making a play for Sean Manaea at 34 overall. This strategy played out beautifully and looks even better after a strong first year campaign from Dozier and excellent reports on Manaea this spring.

Baseball America considered Dozier to be a second round talent entering draft day last season. Post draft reports though suggest that this ranking was much too low for the Stephen F. Austin product. It is said that had Dozier lasted to 21 overall, he would not have gotten past Rays. Also, rumored was that the Arizona Diamondbacks were considering him with the 15 overall selection. Either way it appears that the Royals were able to nab two high end talents in last season's amateur draft. 

Upon Dozier's selection, he became the highest drafted athlete ever out of the Southland Conference. This is in large part due to a junior campaign which saw him hit .396/.482/.755 with 17 home runs in 212 at bats. According to College Splits, surprisingly it is estimated that Dozier faced more difficult competition than the average Division I baseball player. When the website adjusts for park and schedule, Dozier's line becomes .434/.516/.816. However you slice it, Dozier was awesome last season for the Lumberjacks.

A shortstop in college, Dozier will wind up on a corner for Kansas City. He has an excellent arm and a quick enough first step to be a good fit at third base. However, if Moustakas can fill the position, Dozier's athleticism should allow him to handle an outfield corner. Most view him as a replacement for the disappointing Mike Moustakas, however, I'll predict that he winds up as Alex Gordon's eventual replacement in 2016 or 2017. 

Paden Bennett (4): I could have easily ranked Dozier as my number 1 prospect, but I think this is where I really want him.  Hunter Dozier is a well polished hitter who knows the strike zone.  In 258 at bats in Idaho Falls last season he hit .303/.403/.509 with 7 homers and more walks (35) than strikeouts (32).  Dozier moved up to Lexington late last season and proved he wasn't over matched.  

Dozier should start in Wilmingtonand hit in the heart of the order where I look for him to continue to use his great approach at the plate and continue to move up level by level.  Dozier isn't just a dead pull hitter, he is extremely well balanced and has the ability to hit the ball to the opposite field with some pop.  I expect Dozier to prove he is too good for Wilmington and move up to Springdale possibly midseason.

Joe Cox (5):  Hunter Dozier was considered to be an intentional overdraft when taken 8th in the 2014 Amateur draft.  Many in the blogosphere considered this strategy a success when the Royals were able to draft and sign Sean Manaea later in the draft.  Because of this Dozier was somewhat overlooked as a guy who seemed to be drafted more on signability than anything else, though many projected Dozier as a first round talent. 

Dozier, who turned 22 last August, was sent to the Pioneer League and proceeded to put up a very impressive overall offensive line.  In 258 PA, Dozier had more walks (35) than strike outs (32) and slashed an impressive .303/.403/.509.  Dozier played short stop before being drafted but the Royals view him as a third baseman moving forward, a position he should be able to handle.  Dozier had a short stint in A ball last year and that should be the level he starts at to start the year.  Because of his high draft slot and age, Dozier should move quickly through the system and could be a solution at third in the next year or two if Moustakas can’t put it together.

Dan Ware (4):  Voted as the Top Pioneer League Prospect after the 2013 season, Dozier made an immediate impact in the Idaho Falls lineup, hitting .303/.403/.509 with 7 HR and 43 RBI in only 54 games.  His impressive debut earned himself a promotion to an already prospect-filled Lexington lineup.  He managed to get 59 plate appearances, hitting .327/.373/.436 while collecting 9 more RBI.  

With his first professional season in the books, Dozier ended up with more walks than strikeouts (39:38) and 30 doubles, which is definitely nice to see especially in a rookie season.  Rightfully so, Baseball America gave him the honors of being the 'Best Hitter' and 'Best Strike-Zone Discipline' for the 2014 campaign.  Dozier has an athletic build at 6'4" 220 lbs and exceptional strength.  He is known for his quick hands at the plate and ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.  

Playing SS in college, he only played 9 games at the same position for Idaho Falls before the move to third base was put into action.  Dozier easily has the glove to stay at shortstop, but with his frame, lack of quickness, and the depth at the position in the system, the move to third was inevitable.  The position switch shouldn't be a problem long-term considering he has average speed and during his college days, threw 91-93 mph in relief outings.  Don't be surprised to see Dozier put on both Lexington and Wilmington uniforms in 2014.

Nicholas Ian Allen (--): It is pretty rare for an organization to execute a first round draft strategy as perfectly as the Royals did in selecting Dozier 8th overall and managing to sign him well below slot value, before selecting Sean Manaea with their following pick. While some questioned the move to select Dozier as high as they did, the Royals look like geniuses so far.

The former shortstop was impressive in his first professional season, earning a two-week promotion in August before returning to Idaho Falls to lead the team to the Pioneer League championship. Simply, the 22-year old put together a great season that included a total of 37 extra-base hits and 52 RBI in 69 regular season professional games, and had a fairly smooth transition to third base. Despite making 11 errors, he has good range and a good arm, and should be an above-average fielder in the long run.

Dozier appeared in only one big league Spring Training game this March, but with another solid season in 2014, should gain an invite to the Major League squad in 2015, with a real shot to make his Kansas City debut later in the year. 

Total Points: 106

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