- Full name Pierre Luc Laforest
- Born 01/27/1978 in Hull, QC, Canada
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Fort Scott CC
- Debut 09/02/2003
- Drafted in the 16th round (451st overall) by the Washington Nationals in 1995.
Organization Prospect Rankings
LaForest caught for Canada and homered twice in the 2004 Olympics. That was definitely the highlight of his year, as he failed to make the Devil Rays in spring training, then was bothered by knee and hand injuries that robbed him of his power and led to his worst offensive season as a pro. Designated for assignment in the offseason, he went unclaimed by other teams. LaForest's strong suit is his power, and he draws walks because pitchers often are reluctant to challenge him. He hasn't been able to shorten his big swing, so he'll probably never hit for a high average or make consistent contact. His defense always has lagged behind his offense, though LaForest did improve his game-calling last season. His catch-and-throw skills may never be enough for him to play regularly behind the plate in the majors, and he threw out just 21 percent of basestealers in 2004. Some scouts think that with his bat and lack of defensive ability, he'd be better suited as a DH who also could serve as a backup catcher/first baseman.
LaForest's season got off to a bad start when visa problems caused him to miss his first major league camp as well as the first six weeks of the regular season. He originally signed with the Expos as a 16th-round pick out of a Quebec high school in 1995, only to have the contract voided because of a pre-existing injury. The Devil Rays spotted him at Fort Scott, Kan., Community College and signed him two years later. But a Tampa Bay official told him to use his student visa rather than wait for a proper work visa, and U.S. immigration authorities caught LaForest. He was banned from entering the United States but has received a special-exemption waiver every year. However, the Immigration and Naturalization Service lost his paperwork before the 2003 season, leading to a lengthy delay. LaForest led the Double-A Southern League in homers in 2002 and his bat will determine how long he plays in the big leagues. He has good power from the left side and draws a good amount of walks. He hit .292 with three homers as Canada finished second at the Olympic qualifying tournament in November, earning a berth in the Athens Games. LaForest has a big swing and strikes out a lot, the main reason he never has hit better than .275 at any of his stops in the minors. LaForest is still developing behind the plate, where he moved from third base in 2000. He threw out just 15 percent of basestealers last year and also needs to improve his receiving and game-calling skills. He might be better suited to be a DH/first baseman/backup catcher than a regular backstop. With the Rays signing Brook Fordyce in the offseason, LaForest probably will return to Triple-A to begin 2004.
After missing most of the 2001 season with a right knee injury, LaForest emerged as a solid catching prospect. The Quebec native topped the system in RBIs and tied for the Southern League lead with 20 homers. Signed as a third baseman, LaForest has made significant strides during his conversion to catching but remains far from a polished product behind the plate. He does a decent job in calling a game and hustles behind the plate with a warrior mentality. His arm strength rates at least average, and he has good quickness with his footwork in making throws to second base. LaForest's greatest improvement has come with the bat. He makes solid contact and is able to drive the ball. By serving as Durham's everyday catcher in 2003, LaForest will have the opportunity to make the necessary refinements to make the final jump to the major leagues.