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November 25, 2006

by Fabian

Tim Battle, OF, 21
Previously Ranked: 11th prior to 2006, 15th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus # N/A , Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R

Physical Ability: Tim Battle is arguably the most physically talented position player in the Yankees system, and that is primarily why he appears on this list. A CF throughout his minor league career, Tim played some on the corners during the 2006 season in deference to superior overall prospects Austin Jackson and Brett Gardner. Defensively, Battle profiles well at all positions as he has excellent range and an accurate, strong throwing arm. Offensively, Battle has good raw power and projects as an above average offensive player as long as he makes contact, which is the big question at this point. Tim also possesses excellent raw speed and is often rated the fastest or second fastest player in the system, next to Brett Gardner.

What Happened in ’06: I had very little faith in Battle’s ability to do well going forward and 2006 accurately represented that belief…to an extent. His performance in Tampa was poor as pitchers consistently fooled him and got him to strike out. When he did make contact it was poor contact and he hit the ball on the ground a lot. Upon demotion Battle regained his stroke. His walk rate went up, K rate went down and he hit the ball in the air more as well as hitting more line drives. This resulted in a .700 OPS, which is nothing too exciting, and less than his ’05 performance, but it was more promising as the secondary numbers point to it being a more sustainable performance. Tim Battle with a K rate around 25% is much more exciting that Tim Battle with a K rate in excess of 30%. Tim Battle with a 25% K-rate has a non-zero shot at being Mike Cameron.

What Lies Ahead: Battle will likely return to Tampa to begin 2007 and once again be a starting corner OF as Austin Jackson mans center. If he can maintain a K rate in the neighborhood of 25% of his at bats, Battle MAY be ok. The key to doing that will be to stay aggressive early in the count as he has serious issues hitting with 2-strikes. How well FSL pitchers will be able to exploit this will determine his level of success in the coming year. I’m not hopeful about his performance given that only during August did he do all the things he needs to do to produce offensively, i.e. attack early in the count and stay within his self hitting the ball to the opposite field

Grade: Tim Battle can easily be summed up as your prototypical high-risk, high-reward, 5-tool outfielder. Battle is regarded as excellent defensively, which in addition to his game-changing speeds gives him a greater shot at appearing in the majors than your average A-ball prospect of his ilk, but his bat is a huge question mark. In looking at minor league stats, something that should be acknowledged is that a hitter who walks all the time isn’t always the best thing and such is the case for Battle. He simply does not have the skill set at the moment to be anywhere near effective deep in counts so he is going to have to do what he can early in the count. Keeping this in mind, a low-walk rate should prove beneficial for his career prospects as…he has all the tools. C

Jose Gil #24