The Comp: Elvis Andrus Vs. Jose Tabata

The South Atlantic League has been home to four of the youngest players in the minors this season in Hagerstown's Deolis Guerra and Fernando Martinez, Rome shortstop Elvis Andrus and Charleston outfielder Jose Tabata. All four were 17 when the season began, and all four have had some success in the league.

BA caught up with a scout who saw Charleston play Rome before Tabata went on the disabled list with a thumb injury, and talked to him about his views on Andrus and Tabata. Andrus was hitting .262/.322/.365, while Tabata was batting .298/.377/.420 with five homers, 51 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 20 tries.

"Tabata has a special, special bat. It's the kind of guy where you see the swing and how he approaches things, and you think this is a guy who will hit .300 and hit 25 or 30 home runs a year. But what you guys have in your Prospect Handbook--plus run, plus arm . . . no, I didn't see a plus runner. I didn't see a great arm. Maybe a tick above (average), but he didn't show me a plus arm. But it won't matter with that bat.

"It's a mature body, not that he's done, but he's listed at something like 5-foot-10, 155 or 160 pounds, and there's no way that's his real size. He's more like 6-foot, 180 or 190. He's pretty physical for a 17 year old. He compares very well physically to the college juniors you see in the draft.

"I liked Andrus better. Obviously there's a big difference in one guy who plays up the middle of the diamond and another guy that's going to be a corner outfielder. Andrus really looks like a 17-year-old guy, leaner, he looks younger. I'm not saying Tabata isn't 17; I'm just saying Andrus looks young, like a lot of the high school kids you see at East Coast Showcase or Area Code Games. You see him in the cage, and you think about how this could be a high school junior or rising senior if he was an American kid.

"He does everything you could want. He's got great hands, arm strength, quickness, speed. The thing that impressed me the most was his hitting. Every veteran scout I've ever talked to says the most impressive thing a young player can do is to show the ability to use the whole field at a young age. He does that. He shows some semblence of an approach when he's up there, he had an idea of what he was trying to do. He was very impressive."

Edge: Andrus.