Hunter Dozier Named One of AFL’s Top Prospects

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Blue Rocks third baseman Hunter Dozier at the plate on April 13, 2014 (Jen Nevius).

The Arizona Fall League announced their Top Prospects Team earlier today, and the Royals’ Hunter Dozier made the list. Being voted onto the team is an indication of strong play in the AFL, as well as having some legitimate major league potential.

Dozier hit .256/.390/.360 in his 105 plate appearances, along with 6 doubles and 1 home run. He also drew 18 walks, which led the league. That last number shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering his walk rate as a professional is over 12%. Dozier’s got a very good eye, and that on-base ability definitely helps his future projection.

After bursting onto the scene in 2013 and hitting .308/.397/.495 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of less than 1, Dozier looked to repeat his success, though in High-A Wilmington. Through 267 plate appearances, Dozier did just that, with just a little less power – .295/.397/.429. At that point, he was promoted to Northwest Arkansas, and things kind of went downhill from there.

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Dozier struggled with the Naturals, striking out in over a quarter of his plate appearances and collecting only 16 extra-base hits – 4 home runs – in 267 plate appearances. He still drew walks 11.6% of the time, but he wasn’t making solid contact consistently, so his on-base percentage was a paltry .303, which is even more disappointing considering the offense-friendly environment he played in.

In Arizona, Dozier’s power was still not ideal, as his isolated slugging percentage barely topped .100, but he made up for some of that with his aforementioned patience at the plate and a .375 BABIP, indicating he may have been making better contact. It also may indicate Dozier was getting tremendously lucky, but that’s not how I’d like to spin it.

The Royals surely hope the AFL was an indication of things to come for one of their top prospects. He’ll need to rediscover his power stroke to really be the kind of impact hitter the Royals want, of course, but it’s easy to love a guy who can get on base with regularity. Dozier will enter the 2015 season as roughly the 5th best prospect in the system, and will likely start back at Northwest Arkansas. If he gets off to a hot start, a promotion to Omaha wouldn’t be surprising at all, with a September call-up as a possibility. That’s just me speculating, but it definitely would be nice to have a third baseman on the doorstep of the major leagues.

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