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March 24, 2005

by Fabian

SG's Season Simulations

Tim Battle, 19, CF

Outside of about 50 AB in the ’04 GCL, Tim Battle has not produced in his professional career. Despite that and being someone with a bias towards prospects that produce, I like him more than all the players behind him on this list and some of those ahead. Battle is a case where I find the tools too enticing to ignore and the poor results thus far fully explainable.

Battle’s first exposure to professional pitching, in the ’03 GCL, was a forgettable one. He didn’t walk much, didn’t hit for any power, and struck out a ton. The one thing he had going for him was that he was able to steal 5 bases in 6 attempts. Overall it was a summer to forget, but remembering Battle was only 17 at the time should ease the pain of his poor performance. Furthermore, after the season it was found out that the reason Battle was feeling discomfort in his ribs during his swing was that he had cancer. Taking all this into account the Yankees gave Battle a GCL do-over in ’04. In 50 AB, Battle went .320/.364/.560 with 5 SB and 2 CS. Following that short stint of success, the Yankees promoted Battle to the NYPL, where he was amongst the league’s youngest players, because the team was pretty…not good and Battle was a likely overall improvement on what was already on that field.

While Battle was having success in the GCL, his 4:15 BB:K ratio made it clear that he would struggle with the college pitching of the NYPL, and struggle he did. When the season was over his final NYPL line was .246/.302/.322 with a 14:74 BB:K ratio and 13 SB with 6 CS in 199 at bats. So, why am I so excited about Tim Battle?

Above all else, Tim Battle’s defensive ability excites me. As a HS he threw 90 MPH off the mound, so the arm is there, in addition, there are no questions about his ability to stick in CF long-term as is the case with many CF prospect since his speed grades a 70 on the 80 point scouting scale (Only grounding into 2 double plays in 355 career at bats is also a testament to Battle’s wheels). In fact, the ’03 Baseball America Draft Preview noted, “some scouts feel he’s a better athlete than Florida high schooler Lastings Milledge” (Milledge is currently regarded as one of the game’s brightest prospects and plays in the Mets organization). The same draft preview noted that Battle had good power, but was “so raw that he might need two years in Rookie ball”. With his 2 years in Rookie ball complete I feel that Battle is ready to emerge. Had he been allowed to spend the entire summer of ’04 in the GCL I feel Battle would have maintained his hitting and been named the league’s top prospect so it should come as no surprise I have little doubt that he will have a respectable ’05 in Low-A. I don’t think he’s refined his offensive game to the point where he can be counted on to produce huge numbers, but the raw talent will carry him. And if you don’t believe that then we can at least agree that “speed never slumps” and this guy has an abundance of speed. It’ll be a couple years before the overall package is ready, but it should be worth it.

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