Jim Callis solicited the opinions of scouts, whose comments appear below. They helped us break down the tools of Sean Burroughs and Hank Blalock 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.
Burroughs has been in the spotlight since winning Little League World Series championships a decade ago, while Blalock was unknown to casual fans a year ago. The Padres have moved Phil Nevin to first base to make room for Burroughs on Opening Day, while the Rangers may send Blalock to Triple-A and begin the season with a Mike Lamb/Herbert Perry platoon. While only one spot separates the Californians on the Top 100, scouts were nearly unanimous in picking Blalock, who has become the consensus best hitter in the minors. Most believe Burroughs will develop at least average power, but some were bothered that he hit just 17 homers in 340 pro gamesone fewer than Blalock stroked last year.
"Blalock, and its not even close. Hes a better player, a better hitter and has more power. And Burroughs is a very good hitter. But Blalock has made big strides. Both have always showed the ability to hit, but Blalock has gotten to his power. He has more leverage. Blalock has the chance to hit at least 20 to 25 homers. Burroughs is going to be more in the 15-20 range, though as good a hitter as he is, he will knock in runs. Blalock is a better fielder. Hes taken a bigger step forward. Hes one of those guys, when his body filled out he became a lot more athletic. Hes light on his feet and he can really cut off balls to his left. He impressed me as much as any guy Ive seen in the Arizona Fall League in a while."
"Blalock is a good hitter but I would take Burroughs. Hes a little bit more athletic. Theres more bounce and quickness to him. Offensively, theyre both similar guys. Theyre both plus hitters with plus power. So Id take Burroughs because of the athleticism."
"Theres still more physical maturation that needs to take place with Hank Blalock. Theres still more learning to play the game that needs to take place. But hes still a damn good-looking hitter. Im not sold on Sean Burroughs yet. I love the kids swing. I love the kids ability. But he hasnt shown me the power yet. The difference in Burroughs favor is the defense. He has very sure hands, a very good arm, very good defensive instincts. But hes more of a line-drive hitter."
"Id lean toward Blalock. I think Sean still has to prove sometime shortly that hell be a big-time power run producer. He hasnt shown he can hit the ball out of the park. What did he hit, two homers in Double-A? When Eric Chavez was a year older, he hit 22 in about half a season in the same league. Is Sean a pure hitter? Yes. Is he a good fielder? Yes. But Hanks a step ahead of him because hes shown more of that combination of what most teams want in a third baseman. Good lefthanded hitters who have strength but dont hit homers in the minors, they almost always hit them in the majors. But Sean hasnt gotten to the point when he can take advantage of a pitch down the middle or middle-in, and take that ball to the shortest part of the ballpark."
"Ive been a Burroughs fan for a long time. I like the way he makes adjustments. I still think hell be real good. His power was never a question as an amateur. I think people question that a bit now but I cant worry that much about his power. Hes strong and hell hit home runs."
"For me, its Blalock. I really think the guy is going to hit. Hes got as much or better present power than Burroughs. Burroughs might figure it out down the road, find some pitches he can drive. Hank already has figured that out."
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