Bats say Stubbs needs to release his aggression
By Michael Grant • email@example.comThe Courier-Journal • April 7, 2009
In Drew Stubbs' 19 games for the Louisville Bats last season, manager Rick Sweet extrapolated two conclusions:
He is a terrific all-around athlete.
He needs to be more aggressive to make it in the major leagues.
Sweet said he intends to "push" Stubbs offensively and defensively to take advantage of his natural gifts, starting Thursday night when the Bats' season opens against Columbus at Louisville Slugger Field.
Cincinnati Reds fans have been keeping a vigilant eye on the 24-year-old centerfielder since he was drafted eighth overall in 2006 out of the University of Texas. Stubbs made stops at three minor league levels last year, ascending from Class A Sarasota to Double A Chattanooga to Louisville.
With the Bats, Stubbs hit .293 with two home runs, 10 RBIs and three stolen bases. Sweet described Stubbs -- the No. 3 Reds prospect by Baseball America -- as a five-tool player; one of the highest compliments a prospect can receive. "He has the potential to be a very good baseball player but he's got to allow that athleticism to work for him," Sweet said. "He needs to be more aggressive. You can't play this game afraid to make a mistake. You're going to make mistakes, but you want them to be aggressive mistakes."
Stubbs' athleticism allows him to make things happen. In his stops at Chattanooga and Louisville, he was caught stealing only once in seven attempts. Stubbs understands Sweet's point.
"That's the thing all the guys keep telling me: to stay aggressive in all aspects of the game," Stubbs said. "Every now and then I get a little bit hesitant on the basepaths or at the plate. The thing is to let it go. Let it loose. That's going to be my approach. I think too much at times when it comes to certain situations. I need to let my instincts take over."
The other concern with Stubbs has been strikeouts. He whiffed 20 times with the Bats, 21 times in his 26 games at Chattanooga and 82 times in 86 games with Sarasota. For his professional career, Stubbs is averaging more than a strikeout per game (329 in 316 games) and is a career .269 hitter. Baseball America and the 2009 Baseball Prospectus both bemoan Stubbs' lack of plate discipline.
Reds farm director Terry Reynolds acknowledged that the strikeouts are a concern but noted that Stubbs is relatively inexperienced.
"You're never pleased with that," Reynolds said. "It's something he needs to work on, and he knows that. It's pitch recognition. It's plate discipline. It's a lot of different things. I think it's something that will come for him with more at-bats and more experience."
Stubbs said keeping his strikeouts down will help him be aggressive on the basepaths.
"They're going to happen, like anything else in this game," he said of the strikeouts. "But if I go out and put the ball in play more often I can use my speed, which is an advantage for me."
Louisville's workout from 6:30 to 8 tomorrow night will be open to the public. Concessions will be open.