Jim Callis solicited the opinions of scouts, whose comments appear below. They helped us break down the tools of Joe Borchard and Austin Kearns on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 20 is poor, 50 represents major league average and 80 is outstanding. The numbers we use represent the potential each prospect is likely to realize. Ages are as of Opening Day.
Both of these guys easily could have taken detours from a path to stardom as major league outfielders. Borchard played quarterback at Stanford, and had the White Sox not lured him from football with a $5.3 million bonus in 2000, he would have been a premium pick in the 2002 NFL draft. In high school, Kearns was more highly regarded as a pitcher until his velocity plummeted during his senior season. Borchard outperformed Kearns in his first full pro season, partly because Kearns tore a ligament in his right thumb. Considered Adam Dunns equal entering 2001, Kearns returned to form in the Arizona Fall League. Theyre similar players, but scouts prefer Kearns because hes more disciplined and 18 months younger. Though Borchard played center field last year, no one saw that as his long-term role.
"I really like Kearns. Ive been a Kearns guy since I saw him in high school. Both can be real all-star-quality guys at the big league level. My gut tells me Kearns is going to give me a little more power and offensive production at a wing outfield spot. Even though Borchard is a lit bit more athletic, Id go with Kearns."
"I would go with Joe. The reason is twofold. One is the switch-hitting aspect of it. He can do it from both sides of the plate. Two, body-wise and athletic-wise, Joe will maintain his ability to move like he moves now longer than Austin. Joes losing his football bulk. I dont see him as a center fielder, though. He could do an adequate job in an emergency, but ideally hes a corner guy."
"Theyre both true corner guys with pure bang for the buck. Honestly, Id have to lean to Kearns. I like Borchard, but Kearns will have more power and more usable power. Not by much, but he does have half a grade better power."
"I havent seen a whole lot of Borchard. He has an explosive bat and hes a very athletic kid. I like Kearns. His swing is a little bit long at times, but hes capable of driving the ball to all fields. I think of Dewey Evans and all those prototype right fielders when I think of Kearns. Borchard is older than Kearns, so Id probably take Kearns."
"Oh, thats a good one. If Kearns is healthy, Id take Kearns because of his weapons and his arm defensively. Borchard is not a center fielder and I have some arm concerns with him. He could end up in left field. Kearns is a right fielder with his arm. They have matching power, and Kearns may have more raw power. I like Borchards bat, and he may have the slightest edge bat-wise."
"Thats a close call. Im amazed at the type of offensive numbers Borchard put up in his first full year. Dont get me wrong, I liked him, but I never thought the kid would walk into the game at that level and do that. Hes still very rough. If Borchard ever gets the football out of him and gets graceful, look out."
"Id probably go Kearns. I like his bat a little bit more, though Borchard is a little more athletic."
Copyright 2002 Baseball America. All rights reserved.|
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.