Scouting Yanks Prospect #45: Seth Fortenberry

Fortenberry has plenty of tools in his game

Since being drafted in the 11th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of Baylor University as a senior, Seth Fortenberry has flashed an impressive collection of tools. While he hit just .255 with the Charleston Riverdogs this past season, he missed a 20-20 season by just two home runs in his first full season of professional baseball.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Seth Fortenberry
Position: Outfielder
DOB: September 1, 1983
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"I was extremely happy," Fortenberry said of his 2007 season. "I had a few goals, some I accomplished and some I didn't. I was hoping to hit around 10-15 home runs and I surpassed that. But I was also hoping to stay around the .300 range and I came up a little bit short of that.

"It was my first full season though and it became a bit of grind towards the end. It was something I learned and hopefully it will help me out next year, just kind of prepare more and have more endurance. It was a little bit of a learning experience that first year."

A .288 hitter before the South Atlantic League All-Star break, he tired down the stretch and hit a meager .220 in the second-half of the season, proving to him that getting stronger meant more than just hitting for power.

"When I was down in Instructs I actually met with a nutritionist and they're working with me to put on a little more weight," Fortenberry admitted. "I'm around 185 [pounds] now so I'd like to put on 10-15 pounds of muscle, that'll help me get stronger and sustain a 140 or 160-game season.

"Hopefully I can stay strong throughout the entire year and put up the same power numbers at the end of the year that I'm putting up in May."

His second-half struggles were mostly with putting the ball in play and not so much indicative of his home run totals as he did manage to hit seven of his eighteen home runs - which was more than his entire four-year collegiate total - after the break.

"I really think the power numbers were unbelievable for me, especially with my size," said the lanky left-handed hitter. "Hopefully with the more weight and the more muscle that I put on that'll expand."

A pronounced pull-hitter who is trying to learn to use the entire field more, while his power and speed combination has been quite impressive, his rather high strikeout totals have been an area of focus.

"I also want to work on hitting for average and cutting down strikeouts," said the career .260 hitter. "I was also able to walk this year and that came with hitting in the middle of the lineup and putting up some of the power numbers. I'd like to level out the walk-strikeout ratio a bit more."

As Fortenberry continues to work on his consistency making contact, he and the Yankees can't help but be encouraged by the many things he can do on a baseball diamond. In fact, his manager predicted in Spring Training that he would have a 20-20 season.

"It makes you feel pretty comfortable," he said, "when the manager has that much confidence in you. It doesn't put any pressure on you, you just go out there and do what you do. Torre is a laid-back guy that you love to play for. He kind of let us do our thing.

"If I was going through a slump or a tough time at the plate he would let me work through it. He didn't bring me out or sit me a few days. I got the chance to work through it and it helped me out a lot. I would have loved to hit that 20-20 - just two more home runs. I kind of ran out of gas there at the end. I was still pleased with what happened."

With an eye towards avoiding a late-season collapse in future years and improving his consistency, he is adamant about getting stronger.

"My main goal for this offseason is to put on as much weight as I can," he admitted, "just eat a lot of carbs and a lot of protein and just try to build up a lot of muscle for the next season.

"Right now is the time to do that just because during the season you don't want to put on too much stress on your arms or legs. That might affect you in a negative way during the games. Right now it's just put on some muscle and put on some strength."

Having very good success in his career thus far as a later-round draft pick has built up his confidence, and seeing how he stacks up against his competition, he now has a clearer picture of what he would like to accomplish in the immediate future.

"I'm pretty sure I'll start out in Tampa and I hope I end up in Trenton or Scranton," he said of his goals for 2008, "somewhere up there, and just gain as much ground as I can next year. I would like to hit around .300 if not higher and just stick with the power numbers that I've got.

"Hopefully, the pitching will become better but at the same time they're a little more around the zone. The younger pitchers and the pitchers in [the South Atlantic League] can be a little more effectively wild. We learn a lot from them because it helps out our strike zone discipline. Hopefully that will help me out later on as I move up."

Seemingly on his way to moving up and catching the collective eyes of his coaches, Fortenberry's tools has him on the cusp of garnering serious attention as a legitimate prospect outside of the organization.

"I hope so," he said. "I try to be as versatile and as involved in a game as I can. I've got a lot of aspects that I can use whether it being my speed stealing bases, running down balls in the outfield, hitting for power, working in the middle of the lineup which enhances my game a little bit, hopefully more people will begin to recognize that.

"I hope it does and I'll just continue to work my butt off to do as much as I can during a game."


Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2007 Charleston .255 505 23 18 87 97 25 73 137 .358 .424
2006 Staten Island .268 254 11 4 25 34 12 24 65 .345 .398


Batting and Power. Fortenberry's biggest weakness is his ability to take pitches to the opposite field. He pulls the ball a little too often and the opposing defenses adjust accordingly, pulling the "Giambi shift" on him by putting the shortstop near the second base bag and shifting other infielders over to the right. His swing is also a tad long at times, leading to a somewhat high number of strikeouts. What he lacks in using the entire field he more than makes up with above average power, especially considering his slender frame.

Base Running and Speed. Twenty-five stolen bases is quite a feat for a player in his first full season of professional baseball. But considering he has one of the quickest first steps around with very good acceleration, and easily one of the fastest players in the organization, it was a disappointing year of sorts on the base paths. He should be a perennial 30-40 stolen base threat once he learns the nuances of learning how to read pitchers better and once he gets on base a little more consistently.

Defense. Fortenberry's top-flight speed and natural baseball instincts make him an excellent defensive outfielder, combining plus range and an above-average throwing arm. He is versatile enough to man any of the three outfield positions. He could be a very good everyday centerfielder or right fielder at the big league level, but would be a superior defensive left fielder.

Projection. Fortenberry's versatility doesn't just end in his outfield defense. His projection is also quite versatile. Able to play all three outfield positions really well, an accomplished bunter, possessing above average power, and plus speed, he has all the tools to project safely as a big league reserve outfielder some day. He also however has enough of those tools that, if he were to improve his ability to make consistent contact, he could prove to be a late-round steal as a potential everyday player. His future big league role lies squarely on the shoulders of his ability to improve putting the ball in play more.

ETA. 2010. Destined for the Florida State League in 2008, Fortenberry should be a mainstay in the Tampa lineup next season, putting him on a path to reach the big leagues by some point in 2010.

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