Scouting Comments on Urbanus, Others

» 02 December 2010 » In international baseball, mlb prospects »

The news that Texas signed Dutch infielder Nick Urbanus caught my eye — Rogier van Zon told me ab out him back in 2009 when I interviewed him about Dutch baseball.

I wanted to learn more about Urbanus, so I asked an international scout about his game.

Nicky is a third-generation ballplayer. His father and grandfather are Dutch greats and he has it in his blood. He is a shortstop with very good instincts and plus makeup. Defensively he’ll be a very good middle infielder. Maybe he’ll be forced to second base for his arm, but I’d give him every chance to stick at short. He’s got very good hands and feet. He’s also a good athlete with a line drive swing to all fields. Lacks some power, but will hit his share of doubles and squares most pitches off. Seeing him handle US pitchers is going to be interesting and I really like his chances.

While I was at it, I also asked about Max Kepler, who signed with the Twins last year and made his US debut in the Gulf Coast League this year:

Kepler is an outstanding athlete with a fantastic frame. I think he’ll be a RF long term, but he has the chance to be a true 5-tool player. With him they’ll need patience, but he oozes with tools and only needs time to put things together.

Since we had gone that far, I asked who the other top European prospects currently active in the minors are:

Well, I’d have to say (Alex) Liddi and Kepler. Kepler has the best ceiling, while Liddi is obviously much closer and accomplished. I also like a few sleepers on the Twins: (Tom) Stuifbergen, (Matej) Hejma, (Andrei) Lobanov. Kai Gronauer is also an advanced defensive catcher who has to improve offensively. But several teams are working well in Europe right now and they’re catching up. It just happens that Mariners (they also signed (Greg) Halman before Liddi) and Twins were among the pioneers in European scouting and have had a strong presence for years.

Interestingly, Gronauer’s name came up in Jan Benner’s 2009 guest piece on German baseball.

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