- Full name Benjamin Thomas Zobrist
- Born 05/26/1981 in Eureka, IL
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- School Dallas Baptist
- Debut 08/01/2006
Drafted in the 6th round (184th overall) by the Houston Astros in 2004 (signed for $55,000).
View Draft ReportSS Ben Zobrist led Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) to the NAIA World Series and earned NAIA all-America honors in 2003, then decided to transfer to Dallas Baptist for his senior year to gain more exposure. He helped the Patriots win the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series, batting .378-8-66 with 22 steals in 60 games. He's a 6-foot-3, 200-pound athlete who switch-hits and has a good approach at the plate. He also shows speed and arm strength.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Zobrist, the shortstop for Team USA at the 2005 World Cup in the Netherlands, has performed well at all three of his minor league stops, including leading the New York-Penn League in batting and on-base percentage in his 2004 pro debut, but he always has been old for his league. He got a later start on his pro career than most players because he was 19 when he graduated high school and spent four years in college between Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), where he started out as a pitcher, and Dallas Baptist. A switch-hitter who excels at handling the bat, Zobrist has solid-average tools across the board, with the exception of power. Managers rated him as having the best strike-zone discipline in the South Atlantic League last year, and no one controls the zone better in the Houston system. His swing is a little longer from the right side, but he's effective from both sides of the plate. He's bigger and doesn't have the range of a typical shortstop, but his instincts enable him to make the plays required at the position. He also made just 15 errors in 102 games at short in 2005. He continues to remind the Astros of quintessential utilityman Bill Spiers, but they also say it's too early to write off Zobrist as a regular shortstop. They need to push him more, and he'll begin 2006 in Double-A with a chance for a midseason promotion to Triple-A.
The Astros aren't sure exactly what they have in Zobrist, who led Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) to the NAIA World Series in 2003 and Dallas Baptist to the Christian College Athletic Association World Series title last spring. After signing for $55,000 as a sixth-round pick, he topped the short-season New York-Penn League in batting and on-base percentage. But at 23, he was one of the oldest players in the league. Zobrist has average tools across the board, but his makeup and instincts stick out more than his physical attributes. He does everything well, from controlling the strike zone as a switch-hitter to running the bases to making the plays at shortstop. Zobrist's power lags behind his other skills, but he's 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and Houston expects him to develop more pop. Though the transition to pro ball didn't slow him down, he has a few adjustments to make. His swing can get a little long from the right side, and he can be a better bunter. Defensively, he needs to do a better job of setting his feet so he's in position to make throws on routine plays. Realistically, Zobrist's ceiling is probably as a utility player in the mold of former Astro Bill Spiers, yet it's too early to discount him as a possible everyday shortstop. He needs to be challenged with an assignment to high Class A, but that's also the likely destination of shortstop prospects Edwin Maysonet and Osvaldo Fernando.
Minor League Top Prospects
If not for his age, Zobrist might have been at the top of this list. Managers raved about his hitting ability from both sides of the plate, his defense at shortstop, his speed, his work ethic and his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. "Zobrist is just such a good, well-rounded player," Hudson Valley manager Dave Howard said. "He's a four-tool guy. He doesn't hit for power but he can hit, he can run, he can steal bases, and he has great instincts. He defended really well against us." Zobrist has a major league body to go with average range and arm strength for a shortstop, but his size might precipitate a move to third base. His excellent plate discipline and decent gap power should give him enough bat to play at the hot corner.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Texas League in 2006
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Houston Astros in 2006
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the South Atlantic League in 2005