Scouting Report: J.D. Drew
Latest in a series of scouting reports provided to SI.com by the network of former scouts, players, coaches and executives at the Baseline Group. See below for past reports.
Team: Boston Red Sox
Height/Weight: 6'1", 200
Body Type: Athletic body; lean muscle
Elite: top player at his position (Manny Ramirez)
Premium: top five at his position (Carlos Lee)
Good: top 10 at his position; occasional All-Star (Bobby Abreu)
Average: everyday position player (Nick Swisher)
Key role: part-time or platoon player (Corey Patterson)
Drew Categorization: Good
JD Drew has all the tools: arm, speed, power, hitting ability, base stealing ability and unmatched discipline at the plate. He's a gifted athlete able to produce offensively, defensively and on the bases.
Why he is so good: Drew is one of the game's most resilient and mentally tough players. Because of his plate discipline, he forces pitchers to make good pitches. Considering the level of major league pitching, that means Drew will usually get something to hit each night or get on base via a walk. That smoothes out Drew's valleys and makes Drew a valuable, steady contributor.
Why he is so bad: This is an example of a player's strength being his weakness when a club doesn't understand how to use him. Because Drew is such a patient hitter, he is not a productive No. 3 hitter for a championship team. Yes, it's true that he had a torrid June after moving into the No. 3 spot because of David Ortiz's injury, but the Red Sox have also fallen out of first over that period. Overly patient hitters such as Drew, Joe Mauer and Kosuke Fukudome (and going back in time, Wade Boggs) need to be in the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the line-up, even if they don't fit the stereotypical speed-guy profile.
Advance Scouting Notes
Drew had an impressive June, hitting 12 home runs and 27 RBIs. His June percentages were .337/.462/.848.
But don't get too excited. Drew is what he is. Take out June, and his monthly OPS lines this year are .787, .799 and .753. Those are right in line with his .796 OPS from 2007.
So why did he hit so well in June? Two words: Manny Ramirez. On June 4th, Drew was moved into the number three spot ahead of Manny Ramirez. There's a big difference to the type of pitches a hitter gets if he's batting ahead of Ramirez and Mike Lowell, as opposed to Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo/Coco Crisp. Since the move, Drew's slugging percentage has gone up by 100 points, from .459 to .559 and he's been named an All-Star. This effect is why Ramirez is an elite player, even when his own stats aren't as good as some of those around him.
Drew won't swing at many bad pitches unless the opposing pitcher is deceptive. Drew's hot zone, meaning where he generates the most offensive production, is down and middle-in. He swings at balls up in the zone late in the count, but he won't drive them. If Drew sees the ball well out of the pitcher's hand he will look to pull something early in the count and lay off balls away until he gets behind in the count.
Slightly Above Average Power
Plus Game Power
Excellent plate discipline
Tends to get hurt
Not a middle-of-the-lineup type
Drew is as steady in the outfield as he is in the infield. He rarely makes mental mistakes. He generally won't dive for balls, but he gets an excellent jump off the bat. His reads are very good and his first step and angles to the ball are as good as any. Drew has plus range and a strong accurate arm.
Worst Match up
A left-hand pitcher with a tailing fastball or a fastball he can command to his arm-side of the plate can be effective with an average breaking ball. A slant-type curve with a 2 to 8 break (movement resembles the hands on a clock pointing at 2 and 8) will be the most difficult pitch for Drew to handle.
Best Match up
A right-handed sinker baller unable to pitch to the top of the strike zone with above average velocity.
Successful Pitcher Plan
The best way to pitch Drew is to.
1. Start him away and down
2. Show him various off-speed second pitches each at bat
3. Use a hard fastball up to change his eye level
4. Finish with either an inside fastball or a back door breaking ball -- he tends to give up on those.
Fun with Stats
Drew has the same career adjusted OPS+ as Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
Despite his plus speed, Drew has just nine steals in 16 attempts since the end of the 2004 season.
Previous Scouting Reports
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