Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Cincinnati Reds: Signed first baseman A.J. Zapp to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
While not on Scott's List Of 22, Zapp does have some interesting qualities. 27 next April and 6'3"/190#, he was picked up by the Seattle organization after the 2002 season from Atlanta, the club that drafted him in the 1st round in 1996 out of high school in Indiana. According to Tacoma's website, Zapp still makes his home in Greenville, IN. He's also apparently big into local fitness
The lefty-swinging Zapp hit 26 homers for AA San Antonio in 2003 and 29 homers for AAA Tacoma in 2004, but struck out 178 and 184 times. This second figure was a PCL record, breaking a mark set by the Trifecta of Doom of Rob Deer (1984), Gorman Thomas (1974), and Rob Stratton (2003). Those two years also saw him draw only 47 and 56 walks, respectively.
His .291/.365/.523 line in AAA may also seem tempered by the fact that it's the Pacific Coast League, well-known for being a hitter's circuit, but Baseball Prospectus showed earlier this season that the Tacoma park was actually playing at a Park Factor of 948 (i.e. as a pitcher's park; 1000 is neutral). Tacoma has also been a pitcher's park the previous several seasons as well (source: BP again).
So AJ certainly didn't live up to Atlanta's hopes, and he has issues with plate discipline and making contact, but he did just come off what is his best professional season since he was a teenager in rookie ball. Either the Reds have bigger and better plans for Jesse Gutierrez (a trade? having him catch regularly again?), or they're just stockpiling a 1B/DH in Louisville to help the Bats put a few fireworks on the scoreboard.
Or, as a poster at the Mariner Musings blog put it in haiku:
Haiku #29: A.J. Zapp
Zap! Pow! Bang! Bam! Whiff!
A six-year minor leaguer.
Homers and strikeouts.