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Prospect Retro: Jason Kendall

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Jason Kendall (AP photo)

Per reader vote, a prospect Retrospective for Jason Kendall:

Jason Kendall was drafted by the Pirates in the 1st round of the 1992 draft, out of high school in California, 23rd overall. He was considered a good-field/might-not-hit-much guy, but his athleticism, defense, and background were such that he rated a first-round pick according to most teams. He hit .261/.317/.279 in 33 games of rookie ball, not doing anything to change his status either positively or negatively. This was a long time before I did prospect analysis for a living; he would have rated as a Grade B- or C+ prospect at that point.

Moved up to full-season ball in '93, Kendall hit .276/.325/.352, showing gradual improvement. There was still very little power, and his walk rate was mediocre, but he hardly ever struck out (just 30 times in 366 at-bats). He would have still rated at B- or C+, but his strong contact ability was a good marker.

Kendall broke out in '94, hitting .318.398/.437 for Class A Salem, improving in all respects. He drew more walks, and struck out only 21 times in 371 at-bats. Eddie Epstein gave him a Grade B- in the '95 Minor League Scouting Notebook, impressed with his offensive improvement, but concerned that he wasn't throwing out runners as well as he should.

Kendall reached Double-A in '95, hitting .326/.407/.448, with only 22 strikeouts in 429 at-bats. I gave him a Grade A- in the '96 book, rating him as the 18th-best prospect in baseball. He hit .300 with the Pirates in '96, and has been a regular Major League catcher ever since.

In the minors, Kendall showed a great knack for contact hitting, with very low strikeout rates and a decent walk total. He built on that to show some occasional power in the Majors, and has been a consistent .300ish hitter throughout his career. His Major League numbers are very much in line with what his Minor League numbers predicted.

Comparable Players to Jason Kendall, no actives listed:

Thurmon Munson
Tim McCarver
Jack Clements
Mickey Cochrane
Manny Sanguillen
Spud Davis
Smokey Burgess
Don Slaught