Monday, October 26, 2009

Sano, Kepler-Rozycki and the slow track

Here, as promised in the Monday print column, is the Wall Street Journal story on Max Kepler-Rozycki.

It's easy to get carried away when reading about prospects like Kepler-Rozycki or Miguel Angel Sano.

A veteran scout watches Sano, and his memory bank flips through the young players he's seen, and the comps he comes up with are Alex Rodriguez and Hanley Ramirez — Dominican shortstops with size and hitting ability. And that's what he puts on his report, because that's his job — to project what he sees now into the future.

And that's what the Twins are spending $3 million-plus on — the very real chance that four or five years down the road they'll have a sizable Dominican shortstop with a big bat.

But he's 16 — probably, maybe. Or he's 18 or 19. He has yet to swing at a professional pitch in anger, has yet to play a night game and ride a bus a few hundred miles, has yet to endure an 0-for-5.

Kepler-Rozycki is a high school student, albeit one with a unique summer job. He is assuredly 16 — and even more assuredly a raw talent.

Some amateur signees are on the fast track. Kyle Gibson (above) probably should be one of them. Like Sano and Kepler-Rozycki, he has yet to play a pro game in earnest, but he's a college signee and far more polished.

Sano and Kepler-Rozycki should be assumed to be years away from the majors until they prove otherwise. They're on the slow track to the majors.

Which doesn't keep us from dreaming a little. That may be a scout's job, but it's the fans' privilege — although a sense of realism helps.

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