Player: Kevin Josephina
Date of Scouting Report: 5/14/17
Age: 20 in 2017
How acquired: International Free Agent in 2013
Salary: Minimum for his level
Years Before Free Agency: 6
It’s been a slow beginning for Josephina after signing with the Braves on the same day as the fellow switch-hitting infielder from Curacao, Ozzie Albies. He played just nine games in 2014 and 22 the following year. In 2016, He upped that to 50 games, including a summer-run with the Rome Braves that included a .267/.259/.382 slash over 37 games. Currently, he’s in a second season with Rome and hitting .298/.343/.330. After just 9 steals in 13 attempts heading in 81 games, Josephina has stolen 8-of-10. He is listed at 6’0″ and 170 pounds.
Offensive Observations and Grades:
Flashes a strong hit tool when he connects and has batted .281 over the last three years. Strikes out a bit too frequently for his skill set, though, with 20% of his plate appearances ending in a strikeout – including 23.5% so far this year. That would be more acceptable if he had more pop, which was the hope when he signed. So far, 20 of his 106 career hits have gone for extras (.070 ISO). That did improve last year by about forty points but has regressed this season. The other thing that stands out about Josephina is how driven by BABIP his skillset is as he simply will not walk. While he’s already set a new personal high with six so far in Rome, that’s just three below his career output coming into this year. Only 4% of his plate appearances have turned into a walk.
To this point, Josephina has displayed a strong platoon difference in which he hits much better as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitching than the vice versa. This is not abnormal, but if not corrected, it’ll be yet another limitation on his portfolio that will hold him back.
Josephina sets up with his legs slightly bent and keeps his body upright until the pitch is delivered. At that point, he shortens the zone by crouching a bit. His swing is compact, but from what I have seen, he does have a bit of pronounced pull element to it. He pushes his weight back as he crouches down and brings it forward. His swing leads to plenty of grounders and his success comes down to what he’s doing with the rest of his swings. Last year, he had nearly a 30% flyball rate. It’s down to 15% this year with the difference mostly coming in line drives.
On the basepaths, Josephina does have a reputation as a speedster, but struggled to translate that speed into a weapon. Part of that was certainly due to a below-average OBP heading into this season. He’s gotten on base more frequently and used his speed more frequently and efficiently. Probably not a significant base stealer, but enough to challenge for twenty steals.
Grades from a 20-80 Scale…Hit (35), Power (20), Speed (55), Baserunning (50), Eye (25), Discipline (25)
Potential Grades…Hit (55), Power (30), Speed (55), Baserunning (60), Eye (30), Discipline (40)
Pitching Observations and Grades:
Defensive Observations and Grades:
When signed, Josephina was expected to play shortstop or possibly outgrow the position and switch to third base. Instead, he’s played over 80% of his games at second base, which does appear the best position for him. Like many second baseman, he’s good going to his left and is capable of making all of the throws. Josephina isn’t as comfortable going to his right, but has a good first step. When slotted across the second base bag, his limitations shine a bit more. He doesn’t have the arm to make all of the throws at shortstop, nor the accuracy. He’s played three games at third base and probably won’t be able to play the position too often. As young defenders are prone to do, he can rush his mechanics a bit too much. If his best-case scenario is as a utility player, he could shift to the outfield for a few games here-and-there over the next couple of seasons.
Grades from a 20-80 Scale at 2B…Range (60), Arm (55), Arm Accuracy (55), Hands (55)
At just 20, Josephina still can add muscle and mature. His plate discipline issues, however, may be too severe to correct. At this point, it’s difficult to project much more than a utility player when you grade Josephina. Will his bat be able to develop despite considerable flaws? I would think it is unlikely, but there is enough potential here to see a possible future.
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