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Prospect Retro: Bill Mueller

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Bill Mueller (AP photo)

Per reader request, a Prospect Retro for Bill Mueller

Bill Mueller was drafted by the Giants in the 15th round in 1993, from Southwest Missouri State University. His pro debut was quite successful: he hit .300 with 13 steals and a .425 OBP in 58 games for Everett in the Northwest League. He didn't show any power, however, slugging just .375. Scouts liked his plate discipline and ability to hit line drives, but questioned whether he would hit for sufficient authority at higher levels.

Promoted to full-season San Jose in 1994, he hit .302/.435/.425 in 120 games, showing exceptional plate discipline with 103 walks against just 47 strikeouts. He also played well defensively at third base. Eddie Epstein gave him a Grade B- in the 1995 Minor League Scouting Notebook, a very reasonable grade.

Mueller began '95 at Double-A Shreveport, hitting .309/.435/.379 in 88 games, with 53 walks and just 36 strikeouts. Promoted to Triple-A in late July, he hit .297/.365/.477 for Phoenix. It was a solid season, as Mueller continued to show excellent strike zone judgment and on-base ability, as well as slightly improved power. I gave him a Grade B- in the '96 book.

Returning to Phoenix in '96, Mueller hit .302 in 106 games, earning a promotion to San Francisco, where he hit .330/.401/.415 in 55 games for the Giants. His plate discipline and line drive ability carried to the major league level without trouble, though lack of power was still an issue. He hit .292/.369/.428 for the Giants in '97.

Sabermetrics pointed to Mueller as a good prospect before regular scouts joined the bandwagon. Mueller's career marks of .292/.372/.430 are very much in line with his minor league numbers, actually better in some ways as he's developed more power than most scouts expected. At age 34, he's entering the downslope of his career, but it has been a good one.

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