AFL Scout's View: Andrew McCutchen

Perhaps the kind way of putting it is that Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a fascinating year.

Putting his .265/.329/.388 effort split between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis in the same category as fellow 2005 high school outfielders Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin and Justin Upton isn’t even in the same area code, however.

The 11th overall pick by the Pirates that year, McCutchen still has major upside. It just might not be in the same category of the other three 2005 high schoolers.

McCutchen struggled wildly with his strike zone and his ability to recognize breaking balls in his first taste of Double-A, and didn’t get comfortable with pitchers setting him up with soft breaking balls away after pounding him inside early in counts.

But to his credit he rebounded, hitting .309 in July after batting just .189/.247/.311 in April after having an outstanding spring in big league camp.

Not to be overlooked, it was also the first time the Florida native headed further north than he ever had to begin a regular pro season.

We caught up with a veteran American League scout to give us his thoughts on McCutchen and his future ceiling as he will likely fit into the outfield mix in the big leagues again this spring:

“I don’t think he’s going to be the player Bruce, Maybin or Upton are,” the scout said. “But he’s a good-looking kid that’ll be an everyday player in the big leagues--no question about that.

“How is he different? I guess you could say it’s because of some inconsistencies in his approach, but those three guys I mentioned have really good instincts--we’re talking off the charts kind of baseball instincts.

“He’s just not a real instinctive guy. He’s more a guy who gets by on natural ability. You saw it this year in Double-A. Natural ability and how he goes about it were the only things that kept him from going back to a lower level.

“And I don’t think his natural ability is as good as the other three. (2005) was a great year for outfielders in the draft, but I just think McCutchen’s going to have a rough time adjusting. He hasn’t made adjustments you want nearly as quickly as the other three.The other three are blessed with size too, and he’s not. So it’s going to be more difficult for him.

“But then again, we’re comparing him with probably the three best outfield prospects in the game, so I think he's going to be a slightly above-average everyday center fielder. The other guys? They have a chance to be stars.”