Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 36, Cameron Seitzer
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player is…
#36: Cameron Lynn Seitzer, 1B, 26 years old
- Bats: Left Ht/Wt: 6’5″ 220 lbs
- Drafted: in the 11th rd of the 2011 MLB draft, 360th overall
- Signed: on June 17th, 2011
- 2015 Affiliate: Durham, AAA
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2016+
Seitzer’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @CameronSeitzer
- Son of former major leaguer Kevin Seitzer and has 3 older brothers, Brandon, Tyler and Nick
- His uncle Brad played 7 years with the Seattle Mariners
- Was a multidisciplinary studies major
- Had biggest year with the Sooners in 2010 when he hit 16 HR and 32 XBH in only 220 AB
- Managed a .167 ISO in AA and a .133 ISO in AAA in 2015
- He wound up with his best wRC+ yet with a 153 total in 2015
- Much of his ability to hit for average in 2015 may be tied to an abnormally high BAbip of .435
- In his own words: “I normally hit line drives, not homers,” said Seitzer, who received an engraved watch for winning the Home Run Derby. “But this was fun.”
- Made the Southern League All-Star team along with Blake Snell
Played some winter league ball this offseason, hitting .224/.294/.289 with only 3 XBH in 76 AB. While it didn’t turn out as well as he would have liked, he was pretty excited to head South for the winter:
Best Tools & Abilities
- Excellent defender at 1B
- Above-Average approach at the plate
- Contact Rate
To be clear and to get this ranking out of the way, Seitzer only dropped this low due to his ceiling as a 1B, not because of the likeliness he will make it to The Show. Not only does he have the bat to hit at a decent rate in MLB, but he has the ability to play at least average to above-average defensively at 1B. He’s likeable, works hard, has a professional approach at the plate, and there’s little doubt that at some point in time, he will play 1B for an MLB team for a certain number of games and AB.
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The issue for Seitzer going forward as a 1B is his clear lack of game power, which is lower than his body and swing would indicate we should expect. Instead of hitting for power, Seitzer deliberately goes for the line drive approach. While it’s great to have a defensively capable light hitting 1B who can hit for average and a great OBP, the chances that a team provides that kind of player a full time job are pretty slim.
The Rays have just that with James Loney, and over the last few years they’ve paid the price for it in terms of lower power numbers and an inability to get runs across the plate at an above-average rate, or the rate they need to do in order to compete in the A.L. East.
The comparison I have to Seitzer is Brett Wallace. Wallace hit 16 HR as a 25 year old in 2012 (same age as Seitzer last year) with a .300/.379/.506 line in AAA. Not only did he manage that, but he also had sporadic MLB experience under his belt at that point. Since then, Wallace has struggled to get the playing time he needs to get comfortable in MLB (336 AB max) and only recently had his best stats with SD in 2015, albeit over a short period of time (1/4 season).
Seitzer’s professional approach at the plate should be an example for other prospects to follow. He has a plan at the plate, stays within his abilities, and isn’t looking to crush the ball – content with driving it all over the field instead. But therein lies the problem.
If you ask me, Seitzer may benefit from a slight change to his approach at the plate similar to what Jose Bautista did in his late 20s. Someone with his size, raw power, and hitting ability could blossom into a 25+ HR player if he just took some more aggressive swings. Should he make that change, we’d rank Seizter in the top 9-14 Rays prospect range, depending on the success.
As it stand today, we’re forced to lower his ranking based on the likeliness he’ll be able to become a part-time 1B in MLB.
There’s bound to be a divided view on whether or not an American League team can afford to have an underpowered 1B and still compete effectively. So long as they have power elsewhere in the lineup, I don’t doubt that a team could succeed in that situation. However, if it doesn’t – and the Rays don’t seem to be overflowing with power – there may be other options that edge such players out of playing time.
With that in mind, and with the fact that Jake Bauers, Casey Gillaspie, and Patrick Leonard will soon start eating into much of his playing time in AAA, there’s a sense that the Rays may decide to move Seitzer elsewhere and give him a chance to break through with another team. There are plenty of teams with shallow pools to pick from on the 1B front, and chances are you’ll soon see Seitzer break through with some MLB ABs, whether it’s with the Rays or another club.
It’s possible that there’s a plan in place to get more power out of Seitzer’s bat and that he winds up getting a look sooner than expected as a result. There’s no doubt that he has the ability to be an MLB first baseman, defensively speaking, and we do expect him to get that shot in 2016, or 2017 at the latest. The question will be how many games and ABs, and how patient will the team be?
Next: Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 48, Jake Cronenworth
With bloodlines that are filled with MLB experience, there’s a good chance he’ll get the advice he needs to have success going forward. Based on that alone, we considered moving him up into the 21-30 range. However, with his being 26 years old and getting close to becoming a AAAA player, we felt it better to hope for some surprise power and a mid-season jump in the rankings. We wish him the best year yet in 2016 and look forward to his proving us wrong.