Scouting Report: Jacoby Ellsbury
May 07, 2007
At a generous 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Jacoby Ellsbury stands as a meager looking baseball player. But in defiance of his rather average stature, Ellsbury has become one of the top prospects in the Boston Red Sox system. The Red Sox centerfield prospect, drafted with the teamsí first pick in the 2005 draft out of Oregon State, has had plenty of success throughout his baseball career. He was an All-American in college and hit well over .300 in each of his three seasons in the Pac-10. He cruised through the minors in 2005 and 2006 and is well on his way to Fenway Park in 2007.
Ellsbury is a very good defensive outfielder. His speed, instincts and finesse make him a capable outfielder at this point in his career. His speed translates well into the offensive side of baseball as well. He is a good base runner and a smart base runner. As of yet, that has not translated into excellent base stealing on Ellsburyís part but he has shown signs of improvement. Heís got the potential to steal 30+ bases and with his ability to get on base, heís a good candidate to reach that potential if he can improve his selection.
Offensively, Ellsbury isnít much to write home about. He has a great eye at the plate and doesnít walk much. For that reason he is able to maintain a high average and a high on-base percentage. What he isnít able to do is hit the ball for power. Over his previous four stints at different minor league levels, he has failed to top a slugging average of .434. This year, the athletic outfielder has found his stroke. Heís been on a rampage, tearing through Double-A. His gap power has improved and heís driving the ball more to the opposite field. He was recently promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket where the Red Sox expect continued development from Ellsbury and potentially some major league relief at some point this season. To date, Ellsbury has hit .452/.518/.644 with ten doubles and two triples.
If Ellsbury succeeds at the Triple-A level, he may be in line for a promotion to Boston this summer. With the Red Sox contending for the playoffs in a division that should be a lot tighter than it is, wins are going to be at a premium. With Coco Crisp and Wily Mo Pena struggling offensively, and Ellsbury an upgrade defensively, the Red Sox may choose to go with the superior defensive player and hope his bat is as good as advertised thus far in 2007.
For Red Sox fans Ellsbury is a breath of fresh air. He appears, at least in one facet, to be major league ready. At the same time, he is showing strides of improvement. The overall effectiveness of Jacoby Ellsbury depends, in large part, on his ability to maintain his patience at the plate and maximize his on-base percentage. He will fit nicely as the teams 9th hitter but with a continued improvement offensively, will be an excellent option at the leadoff spot.