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Prospect of the Day: Jemile Weeks, 2B, Oakland Athletics

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Jemile Weeks of the Oakland Athletics makes a back hand stop on a ground ball against the Texas Rangers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on March 4, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Jemile Weeks of the Oakland Athletics makes a back hand stop on a ground ball against the Texas Rangers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on March 4, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Prospect of the Day: Jemile Weeks

    Drafted in the first round from the University of Miami in 2008, Jemile Weeks is the younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. Like his elder sibling, Jemile has had a hard time staying healthy. He's currently on the shelf again with Triple-A Sacramento, out for a few games with a bruise, though he's not on the DL and should be back in action soon.

     Weeks was off to a good start before his current injury, hitting .333/.440/.547 in 19 games for the River Cats, with 14 walks. When healthy, Weeks shows plus bat speed combined with excellent command of the strike zone. He doesn't have as much power as his brother, but he has pop to the gaps and above-average running speed, though he isn't aggressive about stealing bases. His polished batting eye helps boost his on-base percentage, making him an asset at the top of the order.  His defense isn't terrific and he still needs more reliability, though if he hits as expected, the glove will be good enough.
      Weeks' biggest problem is simple fragility. Various leg and hip maladies have cost him athleticism and mobility, reducing his first-step quickness on the bases for example, costing him needed at-bats for development, and making it harder for him to improve his defense. When he came out of college, Weeks projected as a .270-.290 hitter in the majors, with a good on-base percentage and sparks of power. However, two injury-plagued seasons in Double-A resulted in a mediocre .259/.326/.386 line over 97 games at that level, which certainly doesn't project well into Oakland.
     Although some scouts still believe he's capable of living up to his original potential, others worry that his body just won't let him do it, and that he projects as more of a good role player than a lineup mainstay. His fast start this year was good to see and a reminder of his natural talent level, but we'll just have to see how he responds after coming back from the most recent wound. If he comes back in good shape, he should see Oakland later this year.  A healthy Weeks could certainly be a fine replacement for an aging Mark Ellis.