Scouting Report: SS Corey Ragsdale

Ragsdale Has Improved His Contact Hitting

The New York Mets selected Corey Ragsdale with their 2nd round supplemental draft pick in the 2001 draft out of Nettleton High School in Arkansas. Ragsdale is one of the more athletic players in the Mets' farm system. One of the better defensive shortstops around, Ragsdale has made improvements in his approach at the plate. Here's a scouting report on Corey Ragsdale.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Corey Ragsdale
Position: Shortstop
DOB: November 10, 1982
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

How did Corey Ragsdale know his season had been a success? For starters, he didn't want to go home.

A 23-year-old defensive standout from Jonesboro, Ark., Ragsdale started to make noise consistently with his bat for the first time in 2005.

Prone to strikeouts, slumps and low batting averages in his professional career, Ragsdale may have turned it around in a year that saw him promoted from Class-A St. Lucie to Double-A Binghamton.

"I didn't want the year to end, really," Ragsdale said. "This year really started going in the right direction. I'm getting a little stronger up there, I'm hitting with more pop and more power, and I put the bat on the ball a little better. That's the main thing for me right now."

Though Ragsdale has been reputed as a solid gloveman up the middle, his offense had lagged behind to the point where it could no longer be overlooked – Ragsdale owned a .193 career minor league batting average coming into the year.

But spurred on by adding muscle mass, Ragsdale began to fulfill some of the offensive promise that scouts have seen. Weighing just 175 pounds when he was a second-round draft pick in 2001, Ragsdale said he spent most of 2005 weighing near 200 pounds – most of it muscle mass.

The numbers bore the results, as Ragsdale began to drive the ball more regularly, slugging 19 home runs between St. Lucie and Binghamton. The total more than doubled his previous season high of seven.

"I've had people tell me they were surprised," Ragsdale said. "I'm a bigger guy and I'm getting stronger, so it's coming. They told me it'd come and I would hit for more power, but 19 home runs probably was a little stretch."

Though he slumped for his first several weeks at Double-A, Ragsdale turned it around with a hot finish and wrapped his first stint at Binghamton hitting .226 in 64 games, beginning to feel as though he belonged in the Eastern League.

He credited the discovery of a certain comfort zone as the main reason for his success.

"In St. Lucie, I started to feel like I was going to do something good [every at-bat]," Ragsdale said. "I struggled pretty badly at Double-A, but the last three or four weeks it came back. I wasn't worried about who was throwing or anything; I went up to the plate knowing I was going to do something. That's an unbelievable feeling."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2005

Binghamton

.226

217

49

9

31

33

4

21

75

.305

.401

2005

St. Lucie

.260

273

71

10

38

51

8

33

94

.347

.487

2004

Norfolk

.250

20

5

0

1

1

1

1

4

.286

.300

2004

St. Lucie

.219

421

92

7

38

65

24

42

152

.303

.337

2003

Capital City

.180

355

64

3

27

50

31

46

133

.297

.259

2002

Capital City

.177

124

22

1

12

15

8

15

45

.262

.210

2002

Brooklyn

.183

224

41

2

19

35

26

23

72

.277

.259

2001

Kingsport

.141

71

10

1

5

9

4

10

38

.256

.282



Batting and Power. The lone knock on Ragsdale's game has been his inability to make consistent contact at the plate. Normally susceptible to prolonged slumps earlier in his career, Ragsdale has slowly but surely been making significant progress in that area. In 2005, Ragsdale didn't have a streak of longer than three consecutive games without a hit. While that isn't exactly a superb number for top prospects, it is marked improvement for Ragsdale. Ask any of his teammates and coaches, Ragsdale makes tough outs, routinely stinging balls right into the gloves of the opposing defense. When he does make contact, he hits the ball hard. He has very good gap power with developing home run power, clubbing a career-high 19 home runs this past season. He collected 42.5% of his hits for extra-bases, a number usually reserved for the better power-hitting corner infielders and outfielders. He has plus power for a middle infielder and his power game is developing like the Mets always believed it would.

Base Running and Speed. Ragsdale, who also grew up playing basketball, has excellent speed and is a naturally gifted athlete. A better base stealer in his younger days, Ragsdale's success ratio has slowly deteriorated over the last couple of seasons. Still, he can alter the course of the game with his very good speed and has the potential to steal 25+ bases in any given season.

Defense. Lots of stat junkies point to Ragsdale's high error totals as clear evidence that he's not a good defensive shortstop. Ragsdale is the exception to the rule however. A lot of his errors come as a result of trying to make the impossible plays, plays no other shortstop could possibly make. Blessed with a strong throwing arm, Ragsdale will get to a lot of balls and is overconfident in his arm and makes errant throws on plays he's probably better suited to keep in his back pocket. Ask anyone that watches him play. The errors he gets charged with are on plays that would have been hits anyway and over the course of a season, he saves a ton more runs than his errors allows. Ragsdale is a game changer defensively and is solid enough to play in the Majors right now defensively.

Projection. Many scouts and coaches have all said that all Ragsdale needs to do is hit consistently in the .250-.260 range to become a Major League starting shortstop. The Mets' experiment with trying to change Ragsdale to a switch-hitter earlier in his career not only backfired, but it arguably cost him some development time. After hitting a career-high .219 in 2004, Ragsdale did even better in 2005, hitting .245 with very good power numbers. If he can continue to improve his contact hitting, Ragsdale could be on his way. With Jose Reyes locked up at the shortstop position for the foreseeable future, the Mets may have to use Ragsdale as a utility player down the road. He's athletic enough to play second base and his arm is strong enough to play third base as well. Unless something happens to Reyes and until Ragsdale makes even more progress with his consistency, he projects to be an athletic utility option off the bench.

ETA. 2007. Ragsdale finished the 2005 season with the AA-Binghamton Mets and that should be his Opening Day destination in 2006. Depending on the progression of his bat, Ragsdale should see some time with the AAA-Norfolk Tides at some point next year. If all goes according to plan, Ragsdale should be able to contribute to the Mets by some point in 2007.

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