Top Prospect #41: Buck Shaw

Top Prospect #41: Buck Shaw

The Phillies seem to be a factory for left-handed, power hitting first basemen. While everyone watches to see how the Ryan Howard saga will play out, there is another young first baseman fighting for a chance to be called the <i>first baseman of the future</i>. His name is Buck Shaw and he's got some pretty impressive skills.

While the Ryan Howard play or trade issue resolves itself, Buck Shaw will be watching with more than mild interest. It's not out of the question that at some point in his career, Shaw will be in much the same situation that Howard is in now. He's a left-handed, power hitting first baseman - where have we heard that before - who lines up right behind Howard in the first baseman of the future debate.

If Howard stays, there is the distinct possibility that Shaw could go through what Howard has been considered for; a change in position. It's not out of the question that Shaw could move to the outfield to help speed up his progress. The presence of Carl Galloway - another 2004 pick - could also push Shaw to the outfield to give Galloway the work that he needs defensively at first base. Shaw is more athletic than Howard and scouts generally believe that he could make the move without as much concern as is being given to Howard's potential quest for an outfield career. If Howard exits, the Phillies could keep Shaw at first base with an eye on life after Jim Thome.

The bottom line is that Shaw may not develop the kind of power that Howard has shown, but he projects as a guy who could be well worth watching on the power meters. It will take some time to see just what kind of hitter Shaw can develop into and to see if he can put together a breakthrough season some time down the road, much like Howard put together in 2004.

Year / Team HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB CS BB KO OBP
2004 Gulf Coast 8 30 .258 46 159 24 41 8 1 5 0 17 25 .328
Career 8 30 .258 46 159 24 41 8 1 5 0 17 25 .328

Acquired: Drafted out of Connors State College (Oklahoma) in the 21st round of the 2004 Draft.

Batting and Power: Scouts all agree that Shaw has definite power potential. His bat speed will need to improve, but that may come with added maturity and development. He hit .394 at Connors State last season and can be a guy that could wind up hitting .270 in the majors at some point. The key is going to be increasing that bat speed.

Defense: Shaw isn't exactly a gold glove candidate, but he handles himself very well around the bag. He is an athletic player who isn't afraid to dive after balls to make a play. He is athletic enough that moving to the outfield wouldn't be out of the question.

Projection: Where Shaw will play in 2005 will be one of the more interesting assignment decisions that the Phillies will face. If he's learning the outfield, they could keep him in camp to work on his defense - and bat speed - and wait until the Batavia MuckDogs season begins. Otherwise, a move to Lakewood wouldn't be out of the question. Keep an eye too on where Carl Galloway winds up, because it may give a tip on the long-term thoughts of the Phillies. Shaw has definite major league potential as an everyday player who could wind up hitting in the middle part of a lineup.

ETA: When will his breakout season come? That will determine a lot. It's not out of the question that if all goes well, Shaw could be punching a ticket for the majors around 2008. Not coincidentally, Jim Thome is signed through the 2008 season. Coincidence? We think not.

Comparison: He bats left, but some scouts liken Shaw's approach to that of Pat Burrell. When Burrell was drafted, he had a bigger reputation, but had also gotten the exposure of big-time college ball at the University of Miami.

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