Does Hunter Dozier Replace Mike Moustakas as Royals Third Baseman?
Considered a reach as the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Hunter Dozier tore up the lower levels of minor league baseball. And with the Kansas City Royals organization lacking a true big league caliber starter at the hot corner, Dozier has a chance to move quickly. However, a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals saw his numbers fall dramatically from .295/.397/.429 to .209/.303/.312. Are the top-100 prospect’s upper-level struggles a sign of things to come, or a blip on the radar as he makes adjustments?
At the plate, Hunter Dozier shows plus bat speed. A level plane allows the 23-year-old to smack line drives to all fields on a consistent basis. However, this also limits home runs, of which Dozier has hit just 16 over two years despite being drafted with the reputation of a power hitter. While his bat is geared for gap power and high-doubles potential, it will never provide strong home run totals in spite of a strong frame.
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the Texas native needs more physical development in order to maximize his tall, broad-shouldered frame. In general, college picks being maxed out physically by the time they reach Double-A. Dozier is not. A shortstop in college, a focus on staying trim in order to counteract abnormal size for an up-the-middle position makes sense.
Hunter Dozier’s approach at the plate shows patience. An 11.6 Double-A BB% shows a plan to work the pitcher and an attempt at staying within the strike zone. However, these walks are bound to dry up at the highest level. The former SFA Lumberjack reads off-speed pitches as fastballs and chases out of zone. This problem with pitch recognition led to high K-rates (26.2% in Double-A).
Given Dozier is already 23 years old, pitch recognition will always be an issue. And on top of chasing spin low, the third baseman possesses a hole up in the zone. While his level swing plane allows Dozier to stay on top of pitches from the belt down, it causes complications in the upper third of the zone. When contact is made on fastballs up, it results in weak pop-ups or fly outs — even in batting practice. In the below video, notice the high quantity of heaters elevated and breaking pitches out of the zone as the pitcher looks for a chase.
Video by Jen Nevius
As a former shortstop, Hunter Dozier flashes plus range. Quick lateral movement and reactions allow the current Arizona Fall League player to cover ground quickly. Dozier boasts an above average arm for the hot corner, with adequate strength and consistent accuracy. However, the top-100 prospect appears unsure on his backhand. In infield drills, Dozier dropped five consecutive grounders to his backhand. The Royals had a roving instructor in town who worked specifically with the top-10 Kansas City farmhand on this for fifteen minutes. It’s an issue he is working hard on and is worth following as much of Hunter Dozier’s value comes from his glove.
Shortcomings in the 2013 draft pick’s swing and pitch recognition limit his ability to be an impact player with the bat. However, plus defense combined with league average offensive production for third base, a reasonable expectation, will easily make Hunter Dozier an everyday player. He’s at least a full season away, but Dozier will be a better player than the incumbent third baseman Mike Moustakas, forcing a change in Kansas City.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Everyday Third Baseman Hitting Ability 25 50 Power 25 45 Speed 55 50 Fielding Ability 55 60 Arm 50 55
Owning Hunter Dozier
Two reports at ROTOscouting, two projections of a solid, but unspectacular all-around player. This can be interpreted two ways. On one hand, this sounds like a large number of third baseman who were undervalued as prospects. Josh Donaldson. Kyle Seager. Chase Headley. All are good glove men whose bats were expected to be in the average range. Strong defense afforded each the opportunity to adjust to MLB pitching while creating value with the glove. A poor defender would have had a shorter rope.
On the other hand, players like Hunter Dozier will always be fringe owns in dynasty leagues because owners will always be looking to upgrade. Before assuming Dozier falls into the category, keep in mind Pablo Sandoval batting .278 with 14 home runs and zero steals in 2013, accumulating $6 in actual value — 13th among third basemen.
Hunter Dozier probably won’t become a star, but the glove will prop him up while fantasy baseball owners find out what he is. Lesser glove men including Lonnie Chisenhall and Matt Davidson can leave teams guessing for years as they shuttle up-and-down from Triple-A to the show. Meanwhile, they fail to reach their ceilings because of the juggling. – Mike Newman
13 Nov 2014 / Grant Schiller /
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