Prospect Q&A: Drew Stubbs

When the Reds took Drew Stubbs with the eighth overall pick in the 2006 draft, they knew they were getting a player with a high ceiling. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound University of Texas product went into the draft rated as the best athlete, best defensive player, second-fastest base runner, and third-best power hitter among collegians. The question is whether that resume will translate into success at the big league level.
A righthanded-hitter, Stubbs showed some holes in his short-season debut, hitting only .252 while striking out 64 times in 210 at-bats. Scouts have voiced concerns about the length of his swing and his ability to handle breaking pitches. But no one doubts the 22-year-old’s tools and makeup. If he can make the necessary adjustments and put everything together, Drew Stubbs should be roaming center field in Great American Ballpark within a few years.   
Baseball America: Give us a scouting report on Drew Stubbs the baseball player.
Drew Stubbs: My game is based around speed, both offensively and defensively. I use my speed to be a force on defense, running down balls in the gaps. On offense, I’m a combination speed/power guy who can play small-ball if I have to.
BA: Give us a scouting report on Drew Stubbs the person.
DS: I look at myself as laid-back and genuine; a “What you see is what you get” kind of guy. I believe in putting the team ahead of personal success. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish at Texas, winning a national championship and going to the finals the previous year.
BA: Scouting reports say that your swing is a little long. Do you agree with that?
DS: You know, I don’t consider it to be long. Growing up, it’s always been pretty compact in my opinion. I have struck out a bit too much, and I think my K totals influence that perception. People draw the conclusion that if you strike out a lot, your swing must be long. I don’t think it is.
BA: Scouts also say you have trouble with breaking balls. Do you think that’s pitch-recognition, or something else?
DS: I think that’s any young hitter’s problem. At the pro level you’re seeing elite pitchers, and it”s a constant period of making adjustments. You see it in the big leagues when guys are in their first years. As you gain experience and get more repetitions, you should get better.
BA: Have your coaches asked you to make any mechanical adjustments?
DS: Only minor details with my swing. They want me to work on my load — keeping my hands back and getting better separation to help me to track balls better.
BA: Three major components of hitting are your load, your hands, and your head. Which do you consider the most important?
DS: First and foremost is your head. The bottom line is that you need to keep your eyes on the ball. You don’t want your head moving.
BA: You possess a good combination of speed and power. Are you more likely to hit 40 home runs or steal 40 bases?
DS: I’d say that’┬ŽI think steal 40 bases. Consistent power is developed, but speed and an ability to steal bases comes earlier in your career. If I’m given an opportunity to run, I’ll steal some bases.
BA: What is the strong suit of your running game?
DS: I’d say it’s my explosiveness. The key to stealing bases is getting a good jump, and I work on that a lot. When I don’t get a good jump, my speed can compensate for that. I have a long, rangy stride when I get going.
BA: You’ve been compared to a young Dale Murphy. What are your thoughts on that, and if you could be compared to anyone, who would it be?
DS: It’s a great compliment, obviously. He was one of the best players of his era. But if I had to compare myself to someone, I’d say maybe Torii Hunter. He’s a big, athletic outfielder who can change the game with his defense. That’s the level I want to get to.
BA: How would you assess where your defensive game is right now? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
DS: I think I’m doing pretty well. Having played at Texas, I was able to take my game to the next level because of good coaching and the level of competition. I think my strengths are an ability to get good jumps and track down balls. Not everyone is blessed with my speed, and I feel fortunate that I possess it. There’s always room for improvement, but overall I think I’m fundamentally sound.
BA: You were drafted out of high school by the Rangers and were offered a $900,000 contract as a third-round pick, but the commissioner’s office influenced them not to sign you at that figure. In retrospect, was that a good thing or a bad thing?
DS: At the time, I was definitely looking forward to getting my pro career going. And I think I could have been ready to go. I could have held my own. That said, college really helped me, both on and off the field. Now that I have that experience I’m kind of glad it happened the way it did.
BA: You did very well academically at the University of Texas. Tell us about that.
DS: You see a lot of guys who are in college just to play sports, but I’ve always enjoyed learning. What you gain from an education really helps you as you go along in life. I guess I’m an intellectual. I have an open mind, and I like to think.
BA: I understand that you play the piano.
DS: Yes. I took eight or 10 years of lessons, and played a little classical and some more contemporary stuff. I don’t have much of a chance to play now, though. I lack the time, plus I can’t exactly bring the piano with me on the road.
BA: You’ve also enjoyed the intellectual exercise of bungee jumping.
DS: Yeah, I did that a few times when I was a little younger. It was something fun to do, but I probably won’t be doing it again anytime soon. Still, it’s really not that dangerous. It’s not cliff diving or anything like that.
BA: Any final thoughts?
DS: Just that right now baseball is first and foremost in my life. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and I’d like to play for a long time. I hope I never have to get a real job.