Each month I provide the Kila Ka’aihue Award to one ball player who’s path to the majors has been blocked by an existing player in his position, or just by the sheer st…..general discretion of the front office staff.
Interestingly, the Arizona Diamondbacks are currently in the midst of a pennant race. One of the worst teams in baseball last season is challenging the Giants for control of the NL West. Typically, in the heat of a race like this you don’t really want to try out unproven prospects. That may be the Diamondbacks’ reasoning for not calling up Collin Cowgill.
But Collin is essentially giving them almost no choice. The outfielder is utterly destroying Triple-A pitching hitting .366/.439/.578 with 12 homers, 25 steals in 28 attempts, and a 42/48 BB/K ratio in 375 plate appearances. Scouting-wise, he grades out pretty well across the board with the best outfield arm in the system, good speed, nice power (considering his size), and decent patience at the plate.
Yet, until now he hasn’t caught the eye of many. Minor League Ball listed him as the team’s 15th best prospect and Baseball Americaonly mentions his arm in their annual top 10 prospect list for the D’backs. But other than that, there hasn’t been nearly as much discussion about Cowgill as there has been for other Arizona prospects. His 5′-9″ size has been noted when talking about his MLB future, leading to the belief that he won’t hit for enough power in the majors to be a starting outfielder. But his detractors are still quick to come back and state that he would be a good 4th outfielder.
Then again, there were a few that Gerardo Parra would be a 4th outfielder and he’s playing everyday in left field. Parra also never put up the numbers in the minors that Cowgill is flashing right now.
There is some thought to having Cowgill serve as Parra’s platoon-mate as Parra struggles against left-handed pitching and Cowgill is right-handed. But veteran Willie Bloomquist is getting the job done right now while playing multiple other positions around the diamond. His .298 average and .365 OBP against lefties are nice to pair up with Parra, even with his paltry sub-.368 slugging percentage.
As for his future? Well, Cowgill could start or come off the bench for the Diamondbacks or some other team that trades for him. Arizona may trade him at the deadline as they continue to be an unexpected force in the NL West. An opposing GM may want to try to catch lightening in a bottle with Cowgill and see if he can fit in as a starting outfielder for a rebuilding club. Or the team could just hold on to him, letting him take over as the right-handed platoon for Parra and playing occasionally elsewhere across the outfield.
There’s even the outside chance that the D’backs could try to trade away Chris Young and his rising salary. They could then give Cowgill a full shot at an everyday job in center, allowing the team to allowcate funds elsewhere.
Regardless of his future role, Collin has impressed TBO. Congratulations to Collin Cowgill on receiving the June 2011 Kila Ka’aihue Award!
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