- Full name Peter Michael Kozma
- Born 04/11/1988 in Tulsa, OK
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Owasso
- Debut 05/18/2011
Drafted in the 1st round (18th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007 (signed for $1,395,000).
View Draft ReportThere may not be a true middle infielder drafted in the first round this year, but Kozma is as good a candidate as any. He impressed scouting directors when his team made a swing through Florida in late March, and he had a three-homer game in an Oklahoma 6-A playoff contest. Kozma has no true standout tool, but he also has no glaring weakness. He grades out as average to slightly above-average in every tool except power, and he does have pop. His instincts help him play above his physical ability at bat, on the bases and in the field. He has good plate coverage and uses the entire field, projecting as a future No. 2 hitter in a big league lineup. Coming into the spring, some scouts questioned whether he'd be a long-term shortstop, but he has no doubters now. A Wichita State recruit, Kozma draws raves for his consistency and energy as well.
Organization Prospect Rankings
No Cardinals farmhand more radically altered his standing in the organization than Kozma did in 2012. He has a .652 career OPS in the minors but was thrust into a starting job at shortstop in August when Rafael Furcal went down with an elbow injury. Kozma helped propel St. Louis into the postseason by hitting .333/.383/.569 in 26 games, and his 14 RBIs were the most by a Cardinals rookie in September since Albert Pujols. Kozma's success carried into the playoffs, where he drove in the National League Division Series-winning runs in the ninth inning of Game Five. Before his stunning breakout, he spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he was replaced at shortstop by Ryan Jackson and told to prepare for a utility role in the majors. Necessity made him more. When Kozma signed for $1,395,000, his tools were described as average across the board. His solid defense and strong arm carried him, as his bat didn't develop as expected-until St. Louis needed it most. His realistic offensive ceiling is as an average hitter with gap power and decent speed. Almost removed from the 40-man roster several times in 2012, Kozma enters this year with a shot at the big league bench.
When Kozma returned from his first taste of the majors, he told Adron Chambers that "being there makes you not want to come back" to Triple-A Memphis. That's what the Cardinals wanted to hear him say. The former first-round pick saw his advancement idle in Memphis despite a need-based promotion to the majors. Kozma's .214/.280/.289 line represented a steep decline from how he finished 2010. Selected 18th overall in 2007 and signed to a $1.395 million bonus, Kozma opens his second consecutive year on the 40-man roster with the hopes of history repeating itself. In both high Class A and Double-A, he fared much better when he repeated the level. Kozma has been described as "all-around average" with no true plus tool and no real deficiency other than power. He did show some ability to drive the ball in 2010 but regressed last season. Of greater concern is his inability to hit for average, as he's a career .237 hitter in the minors. Kozma is a surehanded defender with a solid arm who slashed his errors from 34 in 2010 to 14 in 2011. He's an average runner but not a basestealing threat. In 2012, he won't be the priority player at shortstop on his team for the first time in his pro career. He'll defer to Ryan Jackson when he returns to Memphis, which could mean more utility time for Kozma and the chance to prove that versatility is his route back to the majors.
Kozma was first held to inflated standards when the Cardinals took him over pitcher Rick Porcello in the 2007 draft, giving him a $1.395 million bonus as the 17th overall pick. Then expectations were probably tamped too low when he was called a utility player. The truth is somewhere in between. After a repeat of Double-A and .269/.329/.433 performance in the Arizona Fall League, Kozma earned a spot on the 40-man roster in November. He has no true plus tool, but the only real deficiency in his game is power, which shouldn't be a huge issue as a middle infielder. He has a short stroke and makes contact, though he hasn't made adjustments to Double-A pitching and struggles against pitches low in the strike zone. He does have a little bit of pop, including 43 extra-base hits in 2010. Kozma is generally a surehanded defender with good instincts who makes all the routine plays, but he committed 34 errors last year. Some scouts thought he looked worse in his second time around in the Texas League, and that he was down after not moving up to Triple-A. Twenty-two of his errors came in the first half as he played himself into bad hops and poor throwing positions, flaws that he corrected late in the season. He has a solid, accurate arm and is an average runner. Depending on spring training, Kozma could return for another season at Springfield, but the Cardinals hope he'll ride his second-half improvement and AFL assignment into Triple-A.
Perhaps Kozma put it best when he was asked to describe himself and said there was nothing flashy about his abilities. Though he was the 18th overall pick in the 2007 draft and signed for $1.395 million, not one of his tools sparkles likely the prototypical first-round pick. Rather, it's Kozma's steady play that defines him as a prospect. He's a well-rounded player whom managers rated as the best defensive infielder in the Texas League last summer. He isn't the high-wire act that some more athletic infielders are, preferring instinctual jumps, quick exchanges and reliable range to dirt stains, wild throws and highlight dives. Kozma's defense is good enough for the big leagues, but his bat has been slower to develop. When they drafted him, the Cardinals acknowledged then that his feel for hitting and line-drive swing might take time to provide results. He rarely chases bad balls, and the Cardinals believe his ability to hit for average and gap power will improve when he makes better contact with pitches in the zone. Kozma will return to Double-A in 2010, with St. Louis hoping that he'll improve the second time around. That was the case for him at high Class A Palm Beach, where he hit .130 in 24 games in 2008 but jumped to .315 in 18 games last April, earning a swift promotion to Springfield. He grows on people the more they see him play, but many scouts still see him as more of a utilityman than an everyday player.
Kozma had just led Owasso High to an Oklahoma 6-A state title with a three-homer playoff game when the Cardinals picked him 18th overall in 2007. Signed for $1.395 million, he admits what scouts say about him--he's not a flashy talent. But he's a well-rounded middle infielder who should advance steadily through the system. Kozma has a good feel for hitting and a line-drive swing. The best defensive shortstop in the system, he's a nimble fielder with soft hands and a fluid actions. He has an average arm and enhances it with a quick, accurate release. His solid-average speed and fine instincts could allow him to develop into a basestealer. Ideally, Kozma would thrive as a No. 2 hitter, but his bat hasn't progressed as rapidly as hoped. There's no indication he'll generate the bat speed to hit for much power. He struggles to drive the ball to the opposite field and was overmatched following a late-season promotion to high Class A Palm Beach. Kozma will take another crack at high Class A in 2009. How he fares at the plate will dictate how rapidly he makes the next leap.
Picking 18th in 2007, the Cardinals had their highest draft choice since 2000, when they blew the 13th choice on Shaun Boyd, and took Kozma, the best shortstop available. He led Owasso High to the Oklahoma 6-A state championship with a three-homer game in one playoff contest and a solo shot that provided all the scoring in the title game, then signed for $1.395 million. Kozma has four average or better tools. He has good plate coverage and uses the whole field better than most teenage hitters. He has tremendous range and a smooth glide to his play at shortstop. He has a solid arm and enhances it with a quick transfer and release. He's a solid-average runner. His instincts and work ethic are exceptional. He hit just .233 in his debut, but the Cardinals believe Kozma will improve with experience. They like his swing, though with his size and line-drive approach, it's not clear how much power he'll develop. A bone bruise near his right thumb limited Kozma offensively during instructional league, but St. Louis still has enough faith in his bat to send him to low Class A Quad Cities to start 2008. He'll need at least three years in the minors.
Minor League Top Prospects
Kozma isn't as flashy as Jackson, but he went ahead of him in the 2007 draft (18th vs. 45th overall) and is more consistent. Employing a line-drive stroke with good bat control, Kozma should hit for average, and he also has the solid speed and instincts to steal an occasional base. He could become a No. 2 hitter if he develops some power, though scouts question whether he has the leverage in his swing or bat speed to do so. He's more of an opposite-field hitter who'll produce some doubles but few homers. He's similarly steady at shortstop. Kozma has smooth actions, dependable if unspectacular range and reliable hands. His arm strength is average, though it plays up because he makes accurate throws and has a quick release. "He really grows on you," the second AL scout said. "The first time I saw him, I thought, 'Geez, maybe they made a mistake.' But he's a young guy with an easy swing. The tools aren't outstanding, but they play so easy and so well that he plays above them. He doesn't make many mistakes."
The 2007 draft was thin on shortstops, and Kozma was the first one drafted, going 18th overall. After signing for $1,395,000, he spent just four days in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before moving up to Johnson City. Kozma isn't big, but he has some line-drive power in his bat and no glaring weaknesses. Despite making 12 errors in 30 games, he was one of the best defensive shortstops in the league. He can make all the plays with his impressive range, good hands and quick release.He also runs well and showed increased patience as he got more experience. "He has a lot of things you look for in a middle infielder," Kingsport coach George Greer said. "I can see the ability in him."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Texas League in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008