Position: OF Height: 6-2 Weight: 200 Born: 8/2/82 Bats: Left Throws: Left
Grady Sizemore was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos, in the third round of the 2000 draft, out of high school in Everett, Wash. He was considered one of the best athletes available in the draft class, but he had a scholarship to play football (quarterback) at the University of Washington, which scared some teams off. The Expos managed to sign him. After an adequate 2001 season, he was traded to the Indians mid-way through 2002, as part of the Bartolo Colon deal. He went on a vicious hot streak immediately after the trade, and hasn't really cooled off since, emerging as one of the top outfield prospects in the game. Cleveland promoted him to the Show last Thursday, and it is likely he'll be their starting center fielder the rest of the season.
Scouting reports about Sizemore begin with his athleticism. He has a fine combination of speed, strength, and flexibility. He's stronger than most speedsters and faster than most sluggers. His swing, which was a bit inconsistent when he first signed, is now one of the more aesthetically pleasing strokes around. He makes solid contact, can drive the ball for power, but will also go to the opposite field. His power is mainly to the gaps at this point, but he's shown flashes of plus home run potential. Even if his home run power remains mediocre, he will hit lots of doubles and triples.
Sizemore has developed good plate discipline. His walk rates haven't been awesome since reaching Double-A, but they are adequate in combination with his strong batting average, and he should get on base enough to be solid at the top of the order. He doesn't strike out very much, and some scouts believe he has batting champion potential down the road. Sizemore runs very well, but doesn't always get good jumps, and may never be a big basestealer despite his speed. That is one of his few flaws. He has turned into a very good defensive outfielder in center field, at least in terms of range. His arm is surprisingly weak for a former quarterback, though it is accurate. Scouts like his work ethic, and he has a reputation as a "clutch" player, if you believe in that sort of thing.
Sizemore has handled the upper levels quite well. His Double-A and Triple-A numbers show him as a current .250-.280 hitter at the major league level, with doubles and a few homers. That doesn't sound great, but he is still just 21 years old. Anyone who handles Double-A and Triple-A at age 21 has star potential, given a normal growth curve. Sizemore draws comparisons to players like Steve Finley and Brady Anderson, and that seems like a reasonable read on his future, although neither Finley nor Anderson was as good at age 21 as Sizemore already is.
Sizemore has had no serious health concerns. Players with his lean, no-fat, lithe-but-strong body type are sometimes vulnerable to muscle pulls, but so far he's had no major problems.
What to expect
The time is now for Sizemore, and the Cleveland front office sees him as a major centerpiece for their future. He has developed baseball skills to go with his undoubted physical tools, but there is still some uncertainty as to exactly what kind of player that Sizemore will become. Will he be a .300+ hitter or "just" a .270-.280 guy? Will he have 15-homer power or 30-homer muscle? Is he a tablesetter or a run producer? Any of these outcomes is possible given his current profile.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, "Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation," is also out, and can be ordered through online book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife, Jeri; son, Nicholas; and feline friends Toonces and Spot.