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Sleeper Prospect; Anthony Webster

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Prospect Sleeper: Anthony Webster

Here is what I wrote about Webster in the 2006 Baseball Prospect Book:

"A toolsy speed demon outfielder, Anthony Webster had a good year in the California League in 2004, but was sent back to repeat the circuit in '05. And he had another good year. The knock on him has been lack of consistent power, but he is driving the ball more effectively now, granted he will probably never be a big home run guy. His speed is impressive, and he uses it well on the bases. His outfield defense has improved, but still suffers from his lack of baseball background, since he was primarily a football guy as an amateur. Note that the California League is a hitter's circuit, and his relative production was only slightly above average last year: OPS +3, SEC +5. I remain intrigued with his upside, but we need to see what happens in Double-A, and many scouts still have doubts about how well he uses his tools. Grade C+."

Well, as you can see, the doubts about his hitting ability in Double-A seem to have been answered: he is doing very well, his overall numbers being slightly better than what he did last year in A-ball. Note that his strikeout rate has stayed about the same, a good sign. The only deterioration in his numbers, surprisingly, is speed: he isn't stealing nearly as effectively as he has in the past. But the other aspects of his game have either remained steady or improved.

Webster was originally in the White Sox system, drafted in the 15th round out of high school in Parsons, Tennessee in 2001. He was traded to the Rangers as part of the Carl Everett deal in '03. He is quite toolsy, fast, with lanky strength. He isn't a walk machine, but he makes contact and can drive the ball effectively to the gaps. His work ethic has been questioned at times, but he has reportedly shown a much better work attitude since mid-season 2005, which just happens to coincide with the beginning of a hot streak that has yet to end. Whether the hot streak is a result of the better work ethic, or vice versa, is hard to know, of course. My bet is that it represents real progress.

Personally, I like Webster, and the fact that he has transitioned successfully to Double-A is obviously a good sign. I'd raise his grade to B- at this point, although it is still uncertain whether he will be a possible regular or just a very useful fourth outfielder in the long run. Either way he deserves more attention than he has received.