The Rays system is filled with top prospects. Those prospects occupy our attention, as they should, because of their great talent. But sometimes we need to talk more about the players who may not be upper-echelon prospects, but still have a possible future in the major leagues and the ability to make an impact. Today let’s talk about another vintage Rays prospect, Jonathan Koscso.
Koscso, 23, is a local kid, born and raised in Tampa, and he was selected by the Rays with their 29th round pick in the 2011 draft as a senior sign out of the University of South Florida. Koscso actually had already been accepted to USF’s medical school after graduating USF with a biology degree, but he’ll put that on hold for the time being to pursue a baseball career with his hometown team.
Koscso was born in the Tampa Bay area and plays baseball like a Ray. A player of average height at 5’11, 175, Koscso nevertheless showed a durability in college impossible to surpass. During Koscso’s four years at USF, he started every game USF played, 229 in a row. He’s versatile, able to play second base and third base in college and then he moonlighted at the corner outfield positions in his pro debut. He doesn’t have much power, but he has a solid hit tool with above-average speed and good bunting ability. And in his pro debut, Koscso showed that he’s not your average senior sign, posting a .310/.437/.380 line in 30 games between Advanced Rookie Princeton and Short Season-A Hudson Valley with 2 doubles, 1 homer, 6 RBI, and 3 steals (albeit with 2 CS). He walked 11 times compared to 8 strikeouts (including a 7 to 5 walk to strikeout ratio at Hudson Valley), and he amazingly did not ground into a single double play. Koscso has yet to learn how to read pitchers to take advantage of his good speed, but especially considering 41.3% of his batted balls were groundballs (according to Minor League Central), just below the league average, it tells you something about his speed when he didn’t ground into any double plays. Minor League Central also tells us that 19.0% of Koscso’s batted balls were line drives compared to the 15.2% average (between the Appy League and the New York-Penn League). Koscso may be a tap hitter, but he’s good at his craft.
Koscso has four tools which grade out as at least average: his hit tool, his speed, his arm, and his fielding. He needs to work on reading pitchers to steal more bases and he’s going to have to continue to hit line drive after line drive to hit for a decent average because of his lack of power. Defensively, Koscso has good motions and a slightly-above average arm, but he’s going to have to be able to handle shortstop in a backup role. Koscso’s tools along with his plus makeup give him the ability to be a good major league utility player and possibly a second-division regular at second base (not on the Rays). Koscso is nothing exciting, but look out for him as a player who fits a utility profile well and could legitimately make a major league impact. Koscso will likely head to Low-A Bowling Green for 2012, where he’ll look to make the needed adjustments on the basepaths and to the shortstop position, and if he can do that sooner rather than later, he’s a candidate for an in-season promotion and he could be in St. Petersburg in a utility role by the end of 2013. Gotta give Koscso some recognition for his solid tools that he brings to the table, and we could see him on the Rays relatively soon.