Who: Brett Eibner
DOB: 12/2/1988, The Woodlands, Texas
Weight: 210 lb
Acquired: 2010 Draft – 2nd Round
~ Baseball America: #10
~ Royals Prospects: #9
~ Royals Review: #12
~ Kevin Goldstein: #14
~ John Sickels: #10 B
Eibner, like fifth-round pick Jason Adam, signed late after the draft so he didn’t get into any professional games in 2010. In three years as an Arkansas Razorback, he put up a slash line of .294/.379/.586 line while splitting time as a center fielder and pitcher. Considering he hit 42 homers in his 158 games in college baseball, the Royals are wise to let him play outfield as a pro, which is his preference.
Originally drafted by the Astros in the fourth round out of high school in 2004, he opted instead to pass up slot money for college ball. In his junior year, Eibner produced. Period. Hitting .333/.455/.718/1.173, he led them to the College World Series and played solid defense in center field. His combination of power, defense and throwing ability earned him a second round selection by the Royals.
Scouts, of course, have their concerns. They’re not sure he’ll stick in center field and may be more of a corner outfield/DH type of player. They’re also concerned with his ability to adjust to the professional game since he does strike out quite a bit (161 times in 688 plate appearances at Arkansas). He also walked 98 times, so he’s not a total hacker at the plate and that could serve him well as he refines his approach.
Still, the reports also make note of excellent bat speed which generates a lot of power. Keith Law thinks he has good hip rotation and arm extension. He’s also in the camp that thinks Eibner can stick in center. Baseball America calls his swing “sweepy and long at times” but that he can put the ball out of any ballpark. He could use some seasoning to improve his approach, as he can’t necessarily rely on raw power as he advances through the minors. Project Prospect noted that he offers at a lot of first strikes and doesn’t always make good contact outside the zone.
He’s a bit of an odd duck, as he could have been a top pick as a pitcher or a hitter, and MLB.com thinks the play in the field stunted his development as a pitcher. Other outlets see it the other way around and BA suggests he can improve his approach with a full-time focus on hitting. He’s a big, athletic, talented kid and could easily be a fast mover in 2010. He’ll likely start out at Kane County in Low A, but could see plenty of time in Wilmington, provided he can make enough contact (and adjust to wooden bats after pinging the crud out of the ball in college.)
As far as the Royals future plans, he was the top outfield prospect in the system until Wil Myers was moved to right field. As a 22-year-old, he’s not far from the big leagues if he can hit and could take a path of burning through A ball this year, starting 2012 in Double A with a potential Triple A promotion that year or a Triple A to MLB split in 2013. Baseball America had him projected as the 2014 center fielder in their Prospect Handbook (though this was before the Zack Greinke trade brought Lorenzo Cain to the organization.)
Even if Eibner has to shift to right field at some point, he was able to hit the mid-90s as a pitcher, so his arm would be an asset and he’d probably demonstrate at least average range. Coupled with solid power, that’d be a perfectly reasonable complementary player – if not star – for a future Royals club.
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