When the Tampa Bay Rays selected Cameron Seitzer in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, nobody thought much of it. He was a first baseman out of Oklahoma, and despite good size at 6’5″, 220, he did not hit for much power. In his junior year for the Sooners, he hit only four home runs in 257 plate appearances, earning him the undesirable label of a first baseman who was unlikely to hit enough for the position. His first three years as a professional did nothing to change that perception.
Seitzer hit 11 homers at Advanced Rookie Princeton in his pro debut, but that came against younger competition. He then hit well at Low-A in 2012 and Double-A in 2013, the latter of which was impressive because he was skipping over High-A, but he managed just 10 home runs combined in 1067 plate appearances. After everything that transpired to begin his career in the organization, Seitzer headed back to Double-A Montgomery in 2014 hoping to finally find the prerequisite power to be a regular at first base. Seitzer was effectively attempting to turn into a different player, and it is unsurprising that he got off to a rough start.
From the beginning of 2014 through May 7th, nothing was going right for Cameron Seitzer. He had managed just a .227/.310/.309 line in 113 plate appearances, actually hitting for less power than before while seeing his approach at the plate fall apart. Seitzer saw his strikeout rate rise from 16.9% to previous season up to 21.2% while his walk rate dropped from 14.0% to 10.6%. The thought had to cross the Rays’ minds that their experiment to change Seitzer at the plate might have ruined him at the plate forever. Then, before we knew it, everything was starting to click.
In his last 180 plate appearances, Seitzer has a .265/.361/.444 line with 6 doubles, 7 homers, 23 RBI, and a 33-23 strikeout to walk ratio. He has drilled all seven of his home runs have come in his last 104 plate appearances on his way to an even more impressive .306/.394/.588 line. To put that in perspective, Seitzer hit more home runs in a span of 96 plate appearances than he did in 579 plate appearances in 2013. Seitzer has always featured raw power, but he is now finding a way to tap into it without losing the plate discipline and pitch recognition that defined his game before. Something has most certainly changed for Seitzer, and he just may be able to make it last.
Cameron Seitzer was lucky from the start to be in the major league organization that values his skills the most. James Loney is currently the first baseman for the Rays, and they don’t mind that he only has 17 home runs in his season and a half with the team. For Seitzer, he knows that as long as he reaches a certain baseline of power, he has the ability to contribute for this team. This recent hot streak may be a sign that he has already gotten there. There are still questions with regards to Seitzer’s future–Loney is the Rays’ first baseman now, and Casey Gillaspie may be the man in three years. However, Seitzer’s power is coming around and he has already showcased his versatility, playing left field, third base, and even shortstop as a professional. Cameron Seitzer is taking the steps necessary to make an impact for the Rays, and if his progress continues, it will be only a matter of time until he makes that possible.