Prospect of the Day: Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Taking over at shortstop this year for the Cincinnati Reds is rookie Zack Cozart. Rob Neyer pointed Cozart out as a potential National League Rookie of the Year candidate last week, and I agree with Rob. Cozart hasn't received as much attention as he deserves, so let's fix that.
Cozart was drafted in the second round in 2007 from the University of Mississippi. He was an All-American in college and well-regarded for his defensive skills, but scouts weren't sure he would hit. Many predicted that his pull-oriented swing would not work against pro pitching, and he hit just .237/.288/.332 in 53 games in the Low-A Midwest League after signing. He improved to .280/.330/.457 with 14 homers in a repeat engagement at Dayton in 2008.
Moved up to Triple-A in '09, he hit .262/.360/.398 for Carolina and showed improved patience with 63 walks. He hit 17 homers and stole 30 bases for Triple-A Louisville in '10, with an overall .255/.310/.416 line, then hit .310/.357/.467 in 77 games last year before being promoted to the majors. He played regularly for two weeks in the majors last summer, hitting .324/.324/.486 before hurting his non-throwing elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery.
Cozart is a 26-year-old right-handed hitter and thrower, listed at 6-0, 195. His physical tools are considered average across the board, but he makes the most of those tools, particularly on defense and on the bases. He's reliable and steady with the glove, showing above-average range and an accurate, if average, arm. His plate discipline is still inconsistent, but he's got decent pop. He is a career .270/.332/.421 in 506 minor league games, and I anticipate that his major league numbers will be similar. Combine that with the glovework, and you have a solid regular.