Monday, March 17, 2008

Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler Has Way of Sneaking Up

Common opinion holds that the Phillies Chase Utley is in a class by himself among major league second basemen, with perhaps only the Reds Brandon Phillips, the Yankees Robbie Cano and maybe a handful of others barely coming close.

Enter Ian Kinsler.

Talk about sleepers; Ian Kinsler has been sneaking up on flashier, more dominant, more highly regarded rivals ever since being taken by the Texas Rangers in the 17th round of the draft (496th overall) and going on to become the team's Minor League Player of the Year in less than 21 months.

His .303 minor league batting average, .377 on-base percentage and .500 slugging mark speaks volumes not only about who Ian Kinsler is, but whom Ian Kinsler is to become. Kinsler's minor league numbers suggest that his .263 major league batting mark and 20 homers last year only scratched the surface of his potential, especially considering that he was unable to find his rhythm all season because of a broken foot. Likewise, Kinsler broke his thumb the year before.

Even more interesting is that despite this arrested development, Kinsler still stole 22 bases in 23 attempts last year and might reach 40 bags or more this year if he stays healthy.

Remember, this is a bonafide five-tool player who is approaching his prime at age 26, and who already has told his hometown newspaper in Tucson, Ariz., that he plans to run a lot more because he expects to be on base in front of newly acquired slugger Josh Hamilton, who as a fastball hitter and major power threat will see a lot of off-speed pitches that provide stealing opportunities for the hitters on base in front of him.