Prospect of the Day: Collin Cowgill, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
One of the best Triple-A performers this year is outfielder Collin Cowgill of the Arizona Diamondbacks, promoted to the major league roster this week. Relatively unheralded pre-season, his performance for Reno in the Pacific Coast League was outstanding and his promotion well-deserved.
The 25-year-old Cowgill was drafted by Arizona in the fifth round in 2008, from the University of Kentucky. He was an excellent performer in college, hitting .361/.483/.687 for the Wildcats with 19 homers and 23 steals. He missed much of the '09 season with a hamstring injury, but had a solid '10 campaign with a .285/.360/.464 mark with 16 homers, 25 steals and 57 walks for Double-A Mobile.
Before his recent promotion, he was hitting .354/.430/.554 for Reno, with 13 homers, 24 doubles, 51 walks, and 63 strikeouts in 395 at-bats. He'd also stolen 30 bases in 33 attempts. In his overall minor league career, he hit .299/.383/.490 with 72 stolen bases in 88 attempts, 174 walks and 263 strikeouts in 1619 plate appearances.
Cowgill's numbers this year were boosted by a friendly home park (1.109 OPS at home, .876 on the road) and the general pro-hitting environment of the PCL, but he has legitimate tools. He has a very strong throwing arm and above average speed. His plate discipline is sound and he handled off-speed stuff in the minors quite well. While some scouts have questioned his hitting mechanics, the results have been there at every level. Indeed, his walk rate has been increasing as he moves up. His instincts are excellent, especially on the bases, and scouts love his makeup.
The main things that have held Cowgill back from top prospect status are his size (he's just 5-9, 190) and the fact that he's a right-handed hitter. Scouts tend to be suspicious of small right-handed hitters. Nevertheless, with his speed, pop, and defensive versatility, he would fit perfectly into the fourth outfield role, but given his performance to date he deserves at least one shot as a regular.