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How Mike Napoli Was Seen as a Prospect

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Mike Napoli as a Prospect

It was pointed out yesterday that Mike Napoli and Pablo Sandoval should have been included in the list of top position players in 2011 by WAR.

They didn't show up on the Fangraphs list I was using because I hadn't set the "plate appearance" screen to zero. Anyway, Napoli had a WAR of 5.6 last year and Sandoval at 5.5, so let's take a look at how they rated as prospects, beginning with Napoli. Sandoval will follow in a separate post.

Mike Napoli: Napoli was a 17th round pick in 2000 by the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels, from high school in Cooper City, Florida. He played just 10 games in his pro debut in the Pioneer League and wasn't on my radar as a prospect at all. He played 43 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2001 and hit .229/.352/.400. I actually saw him for the first time and made a notation in my game notebook that he had "impressive raw power" but looked quite rough otherwise. I didn't put him in my 2002 book but would have given him a Grade C if I had.

Still at Cedar Rapids in 2002, he hit .251/.362/.392 with 10 homers and 62 walks in 106 games. I didn't put him in the 2003 book but again he would have rated a Grade C. Moved up to Rancho Cucamonga in 2003, he hit .267/.364/.412 in 47 games. Small sample, injuries, and again a Grade C who didn't impress me enough to put in the book, although the power/walk combination was present.

Napoli hit .282/.393/.539 with 29 homers for Rancho in 2004, earning a Grade C+ in the 2005 book. I wrote "I think a lot of his power will carry forward to higher levels, but he's probably a .240 hitter against good pitching." The review in the book noted a long swing but was pretty positive.

Moved up to Double-A Arkansas for '05, he hit .237/.372/.508 with 31 homers and 88 walks. I gave him another Grade C+, writing that Napoli is "something like a cross between (Matt) LeCroy, Mickey Tettleton, and Rob Deer.
Someone should get some use out of him."

I think the ratings for Napoli were appropriate based on the information available at the time. His career was within the realm of expectation until his huge breakout with the Texas Rangers in 2011.