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Jonny Gomes

Per reader requests, a prospect report on Jonny Gomes. This isn't a true "retro" per-se, since Gomes just exceeded rookie qualifications this year, but he's certainly worthy of a report.

Gomes was drafted by the Devil Rays in the 18th round in 2001, out of Santa Rosa Junior College. Assigned to the Appalachian League, he hit .291/.442/.597 with 16 homers and 15 steals in 62 games, showing power and speed and good plate discipline. He also struck out 73 times, showing some holes in his swing. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '02 book, and predicted that he would not be truly challenged until he reached Double-A.

Assigned to the California League in '02, he hit .276/.431/.572 with 30 homers and 15 steals for Bakersfield. He also drew 91 walks, but struck out 173 times in 133 games. I gave him a B- in the '03 book, impressed with his power, patience, and speed, but warned that the strikeout issue was going to require adjustments in Double-A. I predicted that he would continue to hit for power, but that he would lose "around 20 points" on his batting average at the higher level.

That prediction panned out: Gomes hit .249/.348/.441 with 17 homers and 23 steals for Double-A Orlando in '03, still hitting for power but losing 27 points of batting average. He struck out 148 times in 120 games. I dropped him to Grade C+ in the '04 book, concerned that he may end up as something of a "tweener" and Quadruple-A player.

Last year, Gomes hit .256/.368/.531 with 26 homers in Triple-A. I dropped him to Grade C in the '05 book, and wrote that he could be a 20-homer hitter in the Show, but would "struggle to clear .250" due to his problems with contact.

He has exceeded expectations this year, although I do think we will see his batting average and OBP drop over time. In 226 career at-bats, he's hitting .257/.337/.500 with 15 homers. This is in line with his minor league career, although his strikeout rate in the majors is actually a tad lower than what he's done in the minors.

My guess is that won't last. If he plays every day next year, I think Gomes will see his batting average drop to, say, .240 or so, stabilizing his career numbers around the .250 mark. Look at his career marks, not just his '05 numbers, when projecting his future.