Sunday, May 14, 2017

Random Prospect Sunday - Kevin Josephina

The 2013 Signing Period for international players was not heralded by publications. Of the Top 30 Prospects that Baseball America profiled, none signed with the Braves - though they'd add #27, Ricardo Sanchez, later. It was a quiet collection of talent in which two of the highest paid players were a right-hander out of Panama named Frank Gil (released last July) and a smallish shortstop from Curacao named Ozzie Albies. Both Gil and Albies received $350K.

While Albies has developed into one of the elite prospects in the game, he wasn't the only switch-hitting shortstop from the small island of Curacao to land a contract with the Braves that signing period. Signed for $50K less than Albies was Kevin Josephina. Slightly bigger than Albies and not nearly the base stealer, the belief was that Josephina could develop into a hitter with a bit of pop to match his growing 6-foot frame.

Albies and Josephina have never played a game together. While the higher-rated prospect headed stateside for the 2014 rookie season, Josephina landed in the Dominican Republic. It would be a forgetful season in which he rarely played and when the 17-year-old did take the field, he struggled at the plate. He still graduated the DSL and headed to the Gulf Coast League for 2015. He hit .272 over 85 PA, but managed just two extra base hits and three walks.

The following season, 2016, would give Josephina his first real chance to show what he was made up. He began the season that June in the Appalachian League and over 13 games, he slashed .300/.333/.420 with a homer. His quick success was rewarded with a promotion to Rome. He continued to show a strong hit tool with a .271 average over his first 62 PA and also showed a bit of pop with a .170 ISO. He followed that up by hitting .264/.257/.333 in his final twenty games. Over 136 PA in Rome, Josephina walked all of zero times.

Unsurprisingly, Josephina didn't earn a call-up to Florida to open 2017. He did hold off Marcus Mooney to become the team's primary second baseman and over 28 games, he's hit .298/.343/.330. He hasn't shown any pop so far, but already has six more walks than he did in Rome last year (which, again, was zero). He's also, for the first time, using his speed more effectively. Josephina was successful in eight of his first ten attempts. This is his Age-20 season and he won't turn 21 until October 2.

Let's get one thing straight - Josephina doesn't have Albies' hit tool. Or his speed. Or his defense - though Josephina is rather capable. What Josephina does have is an intriguing set of skills and potential that goes along with those skills that deserve a bit more coverage. He strikes out a bit too often, but if he can start showing more pop, walking a little more, and continue to showcase improved base-stealing ability, Josephina will become a good little prospect. He's played mostly second base and shortstop to this point, but the belief was that he might outgrow shortstop and play third - where his arm looks strong enough. Maybe his potential won't ever allow him to become a star, but there's enough here to forecast a possible bench role in his future if it comes together for him.

For more on Josephina, check out this scouting report.

For more Random Prospect Sunday profiles, click a link below.
James Webb (3/5/17)
Tanner Murphy (2/26/17)
Omar Obregon (5/15/16)

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