Belinsky: A new international focus on prospects

From SABR member Hudson Belinsky at Baseball Prospectus on October 5, 2012:

Baseball teams often look for market inefficiencies when they acquire players. In recent years we’ve seen some teams target players with excellent defense, some spend aggressively in the draft, and some invest in off-the-field talent. By examining these things, we can often extract specific organizational strategies: team X trades controllable players for plenty of prospects; team Y employs a specific draft strategy. It certainly looks like the Minnesota Twins might be employing a new strategy in the international market, as in recent years they’ve expanded their efforts to include Australia, Africa, and Europe.

Max Kepler is perhaps the most high-profile European player the Twins have signed so far, as the Twins inked him for $800,000 back in 2009, which made some noise. His athleticism was crazy, but he came from Germany and had a long way to go. In 2013, Kepler will make the jump to full-season ball, and his prospect status could really take off.

The son of ballet dancers, Kepler is often described as “graceful.” He has a fluid, line-drive swing and power potential. He has some noticeable load in the swing, and it may be something that will inhibit his ability to hit elite velocity, but the power is a legitimate tool with plus potential. Next season should be a real test of Kepler’s offensive upside, as he should move on to the Midwest League, where he’ll see much more advanced pitching.

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Originally published: October 5, 2012. Last Updated: October 5, 2012.