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Tony Batista Prospect Retro

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Prospect Retro: Tony Batista

Tony Batista was signed by the Oakland Athletics in 1991, as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He made his North American debut in '92, hitting .246/.315/.305 in the Arizona Rookie League, rather uninspiring numbers. But he was just 18 and scouts liked his tools. At this point, he would have been a Grade C prospect.

Batista repeated the AZL in '93 and did much better, hitting .327/.368/.481. He even made a brief 4-game appearance as an emergency fill-in player for Triple-A Tacoma, going 2-for-12. He would still be a Grade C guy at this stage, needing to show what he could do at higher levels.

Promoted to the California League in '94, Batista hit .281/.361/.459 with 17 homers for Modesto, 54/108/466 BB/K/AB ratio. Decent walk rate, not horrible strikeout rate for a power guy. He also impressed people with excellent defensive skills. Eddie Epstein gave him a Grade B in the '95 Minor League Scouting Notebook, an eminently reasonable grade.

Moved up to Double-A in '95, Batista hit .255/.309/.430 with 16 homers. His plate discipline slipped: 29 walks, 98 strikeouts in 419 at-bats, but I gave him a Grade B+ in the '96 book, projecting that he was likely to continue to improve. He did just that in '96, hit6ting .322/.372/.561 in 57 games for Triple-A Edmonton, earning his way onto the Major League roster for the second half of the season. He hit .298 in 74 games for Oakland, and was seen by most as one of the best young hitters in baseball.

Batista had serious problems with his strike zone judgment in '97, which dropped his production down to .202/.265/.330. He was shipped off to Arizona in '98, where he hit .273 with 18 homers.

Batista's unorthodox hitting style and his erratic strike zone judgment have made him something of a "have bat, will travel" guy, but at his best he is quite dangerous. His Major League career numbers entering 2005 were .251/.298/.458, compared to his minor league numbers of .281/.345/.450. He's actually shown a touch more power in the Majors than he did in the minors, but otherwise his career has been a reasonable projection from the minor league base.

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