Nice article on Travis Ishikawa

There was a nice article on Travis Ishikawa on sfgiants.com. I've been following his career closely ever since someone challenged me on my assertion that Ishikawa was a prospect to watch because of his ability to take walks and hit for power; he thought Jason Columbus was a better prospect. Obviously, any prospect getting $1M (or nearly so) in bonus from your team is going to be of great interest to any fan of that team, but that challenge has made me view Ishikawa with a microscope.

Not that I think I'm all that great in judging prospects, there are many more qualified people on McCovey Chronicles who could spin me in circles on prospects, but I wanted to see if there is anything about him to justify the other person's logic. Obviously, Travis strikes out a lot. But that is not that great an evil if he can keep his walk rate up and his HR rate up, there are plenty of major leaguers who strike out a lot but make up for it with walks and homers. Plus I had read that he has a great swing ("sweet" I've seen it described; and his stance did remind me of Will Clark when I first saw it) and plays good defense.

One reason that I said that Ishikawa should be kept is because he is overmatched at that time because he was facing players who were a few years older than he. I said that most players mature physically to a greater degree during their 18-22 phase and yet he was doing OK despite that disadvantage to him, he would have spurts of dominance followed by a period where he's totally lost. I couldn't get anyone on that board to agree with me or to defend my position, so I thought maybe I was out there on a limb alone. So this quote from the article was sweet music to my ears:

Although 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Lefebvre says Ishikawa has yet to be
fully formed physically and mentally. When he does, watch out.

"He has a great swing, and I think as he physically matures, there's going
to be more power in the swing and a lot of quickness in his bat," said
Lefebvre. "And he's real solid around the bag."

So I don't feel as dumb as I did back then, plus more importantly, Ishikawa is sounding like a great prospect who is only going to get better. Niekro better not get too comfortable with 1B; too bad Niekro could not stay at 3B, we don't have any 3B close to the majors and Feliz is probably not going to last much longer with the team, he'll be a free agent after this season and I don't see the Giants signing him for big bucks unless he gives a home discount.

I particularly like this quote from him, which ends the article:
"I've got the confidence now I can put up numbers -- at times I was scared
I was never going to be able to hit," he added. "I'm a perfectionist, and
I know I have a lot more room for improvement."

I like seeing that from prospects. He is confident enough in his abilities and yet humble enough to know that he has a lot more room for improvement. Plus he's a perfectionist, so he's always going to try to improve himself and try to get better, instead of coasting on his abilities and talents.

I had no idea when this whole thing started whether Ishikawa was that great a prospect, I just knew that we shouldn't throw the towel in on him so early, it was at the start of the 2004 season. But none of that matters, what matters is that Ishikawa looks like he has a bright future ahead of him and he could be starting for the Giants by 2008-9, if he continues progressing nicely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no problem with K's at the major league level, however, at the minor league level, they represent a major red flag. They are extremely suggestive of a flawed swing. Thus a huge difference exists between an Adam Dunn and a prospect with similar numbers. Man, am I argumentative tonight or what?


Sun Mar 12, 03:31:00 PM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

No problem with argumentative if I have my head up my a**. :^)

Very good point, sorry, didn't mean to imply that it is not a significant flaw if it is not fixed.

Here is my thinking on that, I should have put it in. True, bad strikeout rates. However, mitigating factor is that he was still relatively young vs. the league.

For example, last season, he was 22 but the league average for pitchers in the California League was 23.74; for pitchers with over 45 IP, 23.21. Out of the 120 pitchers with over 45 IP, 54 of them were 24 and over. It was probably similar in prior years as well. So he's been a little behind physically relative to the competition, so they have had an advantage. And yet he hit .281/.387/.532/.919 with 22 HR in 432 AB.

In addition, his k-rate appears to be stabilizing at just under 30% of all AB, which is not great, but his high Walks compensate for that. Shandler's book has research major leaguers and a k-rate of around there will result, on average, a hitter who hits .247-.255 (covers past 5 years).

And with his walk rate, he will have an OBP of around .350-.370, which is not bad, it is above average. Add his power to it, .450-.550 SLG, and you get an OPS of around .800-.920, which is not that bad. Plus he's good defensively already from what I've read so far, that has always been there.

So yes, strikeouts need to be figured out, but if he can keep his rate at about the same rate, he can be a decent 1B at the MLB level. Of course, his big hurdles will be AA and AAA, so that will be interesting the next two years.

Mon Mar 13, 01:30:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Lyle said...

A 20-yr-old in A ball with a high K rate isn't an immediate concern. Some hitters do learn to control the strike zone better as they mature. But a 25-yr-old in AAA with a high K rate *is* a concern - I'd think his development is near an end, and what you see is what you will get. So until Travis proves to us he can't control his strikeouts, he remains a top prospect in my book.

Mon Mar 13, 11:47:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travis swing is supposed to be something special. I hope he is given the time to develop whether that means more time at the AAA level.

I look forward to his permanent move up to the big leagues.

Good luck Travis, the Giants need a new star that's for sure.

Fri Mar 07, 07:14:00 PM PST  

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