Sunday, November 1, 2009

Evan Chambers

The Pirates signed their third round pick, Evan Chambers, 20, on July 1st for $423,900, exactly slot. Scouts compare him to Kirby Puckett and Kevin Mitchell because of his build (5-9, 215 pounds). He was a reach; Baseball America had him pegged as a fifth or sixth rounder as a corner outfielder.

They promptly sent him to State College to begin his career, and in 200 at-bats as their center fielder he hit .245 with a .393 OBP, four homers, 22 RBI, and 45 runs. He walked 50 times, struck out 78, and stole six bases in six attempts batting out of the two hole.

As the season wore along, he got more comfortable with a wooden bat and pro competition, hitting .290 in the second half of the year as compared to .176 during his opening month and .221 in the first half of 2009.

He takes a lot of pitches, putting the ball in play in fewer than half his plate appearances, and while his walk rate speaks well of his eye, his strikeout rate raises some red flags. Advanced Fantasy Baseball rated him as the #18 position player in the New York-Penn League; his 20% walk rate and 39% whiff rate were both highs for the 35 players it ranked.

Chambers attended Hillsborough CC in Florida (he started his career playing for the Florida Gators after graduating from Lakeland High), where he hit .324 with 13 doubles, 11 home runs, 39 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 49 games in 2009. He was the #181 prospect in this year's draft, according to BA,

PG Crosschecker gave this pre-draft report on Chambers:
"Thickly built at 5-9, 220, there aren’t many baseball players who look like him. He’s an above-average (60 on 20-80 scale) runner with good instincts in center field and an adequate arm. Chambers also showed some juice in his bat; I project him for average bat-speed and power, and he’s short enough to the ball to hang in against big league pitching one day.

His issue here and also during his very brief playing time as a freshman at Florida is that he struggles with curveballs. It’s just a matter of waiting longer and keeping his hands back.

From a pro perspective, the body is a concern only because it’s already matured and one doesn’t know if it will get out of hand one day. Chambers is very thick around his hips and legs. From the height/weight numbers, one might think of Kirby Puckett, but remembering the Twins star as a young player, he was a bit looser in his upper half and had more of a barrel shape to his chest. Nevertheless, Chambers is very strong and it should translate to more power than the typical 5-9 guy.

For Chambers to be a first-ten round draft, he’ll have to show a more polished bat and also convince scouts that he’ll stay strong and in shape as he gets older. Chambers was drafted in the 17th round by the Colorado Rockies out of nearby Lakeland High School in 2007."
The right-handed hitter will be a player to watch next season, if only because of the questions remaining - is he a corner or center outfielder (and remember, because of PNC's LF dimensions, the Pirates like to draft CF'ers with an eye to moving them to left), does he have some power in his lumber, and can he ever catch up to the hook?

The Pirates are betting he becomes the Three River's version of the Kung Fu Panda; time will tell. If Chambers comes up with some pop, there are a lot of holes in the Bucco minor league system for OF'ers. He has Jose Tabata, Gorkys Hernandez, Starling Marte, and Robbie Grossman ahead of him; his 2010 performance will either add him to that gang or cement him in the second level of prospects.

Chambers will start next season at West Virginia.

(Next - Victor Black)


WilliamJPellas said...

Kung Fu Panda? Hmmm, I like it! Imagine how cool it would be if they start playing "Kung Fu Fighting" every time he comes to the plate at PNC (or even in the minors)! We should try to make Kung Fu Panda his "official" nickname! :-D

RickyRobinson said...

Chambers is like 7% body fat. I'm not sure that Panda quite fits him. But, I do like the idea of a song that could get the crowd on it feet.
This kid's got real potential. I'm sure there will be many opportunities to find him a more suitable moniker.

Ron Ieraci said...

Hey Ricky and Schruender - thanks for the comments. I do like the players they've brought into the system the past couple of drafts.

Neither of these guys is a lock, but they both have the look of legitimate prospects, and you can't ask for much more.