The Comp: Stephen Drew Vs. Troy Tulowitzki
See also: The previous Comp looked at Sean Gallagher and Gaby Hernandez
One position in particular where the U.S. has a decided edge in this year's Futures Game is at shortstop, where the Diamondbacks' Stephen Drew will get the start and the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki backs him up.
Both players aren't too far from making their major league debuts, though Drew has the edge in that department. In fact, other than playing a premium position and both coming from solid national college programs, the two shortstops don't have very much in common.
Drew, who was more well known for his long holdout and playing in the independent Atlantic League before finally signing at the deadline last year as a 2004 first-rounder, has all the tools to be a mainstay in the middle of the diamond for Arizona. The 23-year-old jumped straight to Triple-A Tucson this season after batting .389/.486/.738 in 149 at-bats at high Class A Lancaster and an injury-plagued Double-A stint in which he hit just .218/.301/.386 in 101 at-bats at Tennessee.
Through 288 at-bats this season, Drew was batting .292/.352/.444 with nine homers and 39 RBIs for the Sidewinders.
Tulowitzki, playing in his first full season after going seventh overall to the Rockies last year out of Long Beach State, batted .266/.343/.457 in just 94 at-bats at high Class A Modesto in his pro debut. The 21-year-old is holding his own--primarily leading off--for Double-A Tulsa this season, hitting .274/.460/.808 with nine homers and 35 RBIs for the Drillers.
Drew is a lefthanded hitter, while Tulowitzki bats from the right side. Tulowitzki might also be the better defender, and the more versatile hitter. Not a prototypical leadoff hitter, Tulowitzki was thrust into that spot in the order to improve his plate discipline--though that plan has just worked out OK. He's walked 24 times compared to 45 strikeouts.
On the other side of the strike-zone discipline coin, Drew has 30 walks and 41 strikeouts and most scouts see him as a better hitter for average down the road.
We asked an American League scouting director to give us the breakdown on the two U.S. shortstops, and grade each of them out to get some read on what we can expect over the next 10 years from two of the best young shortstops in the National League West.
"Tulowitzki is just a bigger, more physical guy and I think you'll get a lot more pop out of him than you will Drew. When I think of Tulo, I think Bobby Crosby. When I think of Drew, I think of an Alan Trammell-type guy who hits more for average.
"Drew will be a much more consistent hitter for average than Tulo. Tulo is a little longer to the ball; he's got some length to his swing. But when he squares balls up, they go. Drew is more compact and uses the whole field more. His swing is more conducive to hitting for a high average with some power for a long time. He's a little more laid back--maybe too much so at times. You want some of that aggressiveness and he'll show it sometimes, whereas Tulo is aggressively under control. He still makes mistakes and he'll probably always swing at some bad pitches. But what he's done out of the leadoff spot in Double-A shouldn't be discounted. It's impressive because he's learning a new value system.
"Defensively, I think the both have comparable range and quickness, though I like Tulo's ability to move a little bit better than Drew and I also like his arm more. He's shown he can go get it in the hole and make that throw a little more consistently. Drew moves nearly as well, but he gets lackadaisical at times and takes plays off.
"He's so naturally gifted and he'll be as good as he wants to be. It just doesn't seem like it means as much as it does to a guy like Tulowitzki. He's a worker and you see him trying to get better, taking early work every day. You see him wanting to improve. Drew knows how good he is, and I'm not saying that's going to be any kind of downfall with him--it just makes you question his ultimate ceiling."
All grades are on the 20-to-80 scouting scale