Cameron Seitzer was the 11th round selection of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2011 Amateur Draft. His selection drew a bit of attention, due to his bloodlines as the son of two time All-Star Kevin Seitzer. Even without the name recognition, Seitzer had been considered a prospect due to his power potential.
Seitzer’s 2011 collegiate season was a disappointment. After hitting 16 home runs for the University of Oklahoma in 2010, he only hit 4 in 2011. Despite this, he cut down on his strikeouts (50 in 2010 to 30 in 2011) and he raised his batting average 53 points (.305 in 2010 to .358 in 2011). The lack of power dropped Seitzer to the 2011 MLB Draft’s 11th round. But his improvement at making contact could turn out for the best for Seitzer in the long term.
Seitzer’s performance in the minors in 2011 only helped to confirm his potential. Playing for the Princeton Rays in the Appalachian League, he had a slash line of .285/.407/.498, belting 11 home runs and 14 doubles in 221 at bats. He had an excellent walk to strikeout rate, drawing 43 walks while striking out only 46 times. He even stole 6 bases, showing a decent amount of speed for a first baseman.
As impressive as his numbers were, they actually could have been better. According to Minor League Central he had a batting average on balls in play of only .315, compared to the league average of .320. Despite this, his batting average was 24 points higher than league average. He had a fairly low line drive and fly ball rate for a potential power hitter, coming in at 12.5% and 30.1% respectively. However, of those at bats that he hit a fly ball to the outfield, 20.8% ended up as home runs. The league average was only 9.7%.
Seitzer’s performance was impressive enough where the Rays moved him directly to the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League, bypassing the New York/Penn League entirely. Through the first nine games of the season, he has a slash line of .333/.487/.400. While he has only two extra base hits, both doubles, he has displayed an improved approach in two strike counts. He has walked 9 times already compared to 7 strikeouts. His defense continues to be excellent, and has even been improving.
While Seitzer is, in all likelihood, years away from making an impact at the major league level, he is still a prospect to keep an eye on. He may not have a high power ceiling as someone that could hit 40 home runs, but he could be capable of getting to the 20 to 25 range. His speed also bodes well should the Rays transition him to the outfield, although that may not be necessary. His plate approach is excellent, and he gets on base at a very solid rate.
A potential comparison, even though it is early in Seitzer’s development, would be a healthy Nick Johnson. When he’s on the field, Johnson has 20-25 home run power, a knack for drawing walks, and has even stolen 10 bases in a year. Johnson may not be a superstar, but he is a solid player that is a nice complimentary piece on a good ballclub. Cameron Seitzer has the potential to become that in the Rays uniform.