KoK Prospect #14: Johnny Giavotella

Johnny Giavotella checks in at #14 on the 2010 Kings of Kauffman prospect list.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Who: Johnny Giavotella
DOB: 7/10/1987  Harahan, Louisiana
Position: 2B
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2008 Draft (2nd round)

Rankings:
~ Baseball America #16
~ Diamond Futures #10
~ Royals Review #14
~ The Royal Tower #13
~ John Sickels C+
~ Scouting Book #11

Stats:

PA 2B HR SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2008 Burlington (A) 310 18 4 10 25 34 0.299 0.355 0.421
2009 Wilmington (A+) 561 24 6 26 66 54 0.258 0.351 0.380

On the surface his slash stats suggest that he had a disappointing season and that he failed to build upon his impressive professional debut in 2008.  Like so many other Royals prospects over the years, Wilmington and Frawley Stadium took their toll on Giavotella’s offensive production.

Beyond the difficult environment, however, there are some legitimate reasons to remain excited about his future in the organization.  First, he improved his BB to SO ratio from 0.74 to 1.22.  Second, and perhaps more importantly he got better as the season progressed.  His first half struggles were certainly understandable considering he found himself in the pitching friendly Carolina league to start his second professional season.  His second half numbers tell a story of a player who started to figure things out.

1st half:  0.218/.346/.329
2nd half:  0.292/.355/.423

One of the things I find encouraging about Johnny’s 2009 performance is that even while he was hitting in the low 0.200s with no power, he was still a useful offsensive player because he managed to find ways to get on base.  The 94 point increase in his SLG during the second half was another very positive sign for his future.

His plate discipline and strike zone judgment are his primary assets, but he also projects out to have average or near average power.  His baseball instincts allow his average speed to play up and he figures to be an asset on the bases going forward as well.  He’s not going to be a significant threat to steal bases in the majors, but he did show marked improvement in this area last season.  After being successful on 10 of 17 attempts in 2008, Giavotella stole 26 bases while being caught only 9 times in 2009.

The glaring weakness in his game comes in the field where his upside is that of a slightly below average defender.  He has enough arm for the position but his range and footwork are currently substandard.  By all accounts he made some progress in the field during the 2008 season, but regressed last year.  That assessment is mirrored by his Total Zone rating which went from 3 in 2008 to -3 in 2009.

At 5’8″ Giavotella is small in stature but as Baseball America stated in the 2009 Prospect Handbook, “he’s built like a fire hydrant with massive forearms and a barrel chest.”  He makes up for his lack of size with his fire and work ethic.  He is a natural leader with baseball instincts that allow him to play above the level that his tools and talent would suggest.  I’m not one to get overly excited about intangibles, but I have to admit that Giavotella’s makeup intrigues me nearly as much as his offensive ability.  I also believe that his willingness to work will allow him to mask some of his defensive shortfalls and become a passable major league second basemen.

Johnny Giavotella strikes me as the type of player the Royals need in the clubhouse but that will have to wait a few years.  He is set to open the 2010 season in Double-A with NW Arkansas and I fully expect him to have a breakout season.

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Johnny Giavotella, Kansas City Royals, KC, MLB, Royals

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