Drew Stubbs has always been a talented ballplayer. He was a third round pick of the Houston Astros out of high school (Heís a Texas native) but chose to attend the University of Texas. He was then selected in the first round (eighth overall), and signed, by the Cincinnati Reds in 2006.
The 6-5, 190 pound outfielder looks like a ballplayer; he oozes tools and has excellent makeup. But there have always been questions about how well he would adjust to pro ball with a long swing and a history of difficulties with breaking balls.
Those concerns appeared justified after Stubbs, now 23, made his debut in the Pioneer Rookie League and hit only .252/.368/.400, which should be considered below average for a collegiate player in a league comprised mostly of high schoolers and raw Latin players. He also struck out 64 times in 210 at-bats.
The next season in 2007, Stubbs started out slowly in the Midwest League while many other top 2006 college picks were already in High-A ball. He was striking out at an alarming rate and many said those Ks would be the downfall of his professional career. Then the Dayton management, tired of seeing the players strikeout too much, forced everyone to choke up on the bat for a week.
Stubbs was so successful with that approach that he kept doing it, even after the choking-up enforcement was lifted. In the first year and a half of his career, Stubbs struck out 190 times in 161 games. In his last 24 games of 2007, Stubbs struck out only 16 times.
This season, though, the strikeouts are back with 34 in 31 games (115 at-bats), but he is hitting .296/.388/.470. Overall in 2007, he struck out 28.6 percent of the time. In 2008, heís at 29.2 percent. If Stubbs can maintain his triple-slash rates while striking out at the same pace, he can still be an effective everyday ballplayer. However, itís hard to believe he can continue to do so once he hits the better pitching that comes at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, let alone the majors.