Scouting Yankees Prospect #36: Damon Sublett

2009 was Sublett's first full season

The Yankees drafted Damon Sublett in the 7th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Wichita State University. He has tasted a little bit of everything in his short career thus far - a breakout year in his debut season, missing most of the following year with a ligament injury, and a hot and cold third year that also included a position change.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Damon Sublett
Position: Centerfield/Second Base
DOB: September 22, 1985
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

"I guess it's a tale of two seasons you could say," Sublett said of his 2009 campaign. "It started off pretty bad and I finished off alright.

"Overall it was a good year though. I learned a lot and I started playing outfield, which I really like. There were a lot of positives."

After missing most of the 2008 season with torn ligaments in his ankle before changing approaches in the Hawaiian Winter League last offseason, Sublett started the year off very slowly in 2009, hitting just .195 through the first two months with the Tampa Yankees.

"I don't feel like I went into the season unprepared," he said. "I didn't feel like missing pretty much the whole year before was that big of a deal. I think I just got in a hole and I think I just kept trying harder and harder.

"Really what I think turned it around is when I told myself to back off, ‘you're not going to fix this today. You're not going to go 5-5 today and hit .300 all of the sudden. Just relax and you've got a long way to go.'"

He hit .307 the rest of the way, however, and it happened to start right around the time the Yankees moved him from second base to centerfield, although Sublett isn't sure if that's the reason for the abrupt statistical turnaround.

"A week or two before I moved I started hitting really well while I was still playing second base," he said. "I'm not sure [moving positions] had a whole lot to do with it.

"It didn't hurt to move the outfield, I will say that. I liked it and it was easier for me to hit being in the outfield."

Perhaps more surprising than his resurgent bat was just how well he adjusted to playing centerfield with literally no experience at the time and with little warning.

"They came to me and told me they were going to put me in the outfield and they gave me about two days of practice," he revealed. "I was pretty nervous the first couple of days.

"There's no better way to learn though. Taking fly balls in BP is not even close to taking a fly ball in a game. I really enjoyed it, I can't emphasize that enough."

"I think the decision was made to move him out there because there was a little rigidness at second base, a little stiffness, and we wanted to see how he looked out in centerfield," Yankees infield coordinator Jody Reed said.

"I don't think he had a problem with it, and quite honestly for being thrust out there in the middle of the season, I thought he played pretty well."

Finishing what essentially was his first full professional season with a .270 average and solid numbers across the board [including drawing 25 more walks than the next highest total], all while learning a brand new position, has Sublett ready to tackle the Double-A level.

"Definitely. I felt like at the end of the season I was swinging the bat well and doing others things well. Hopefully I'll be ready," Sublett concluded.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2009

Tampa

.270

397

24

4

41

68

11

65

93

.376

.416

2008

Tampa

.263

160

6

2

11

22

3

24

44

.364

.375

2007

Staten Island

.326

239

19

8

53

43

10

43

47

.426

.531



Batting and Power. Considering he missed most of the 2008 season and then used his time in the Hawaiian Winter League last offseason as a trial period for a new aggressive approach, something completely different from his normal ultra-patient approach, it wasn't too surprising he started off the 2009 season in slow fashion. When he finally got back to his game of seeing a multitude of pitches in each at-bat, he started getting pitches to drive and his gap power took over. He even got better at taking pitches to the opposite field. Sublett has all of the makings of a .300 hitter and his plus gap power has the potential to start turning into home run power once he gets a bit more comfortable at the professional level because the necessary leg strength and torque are already in place.

Base Running and Speed. Sublett has average speed overall, maybe a tick above, but he still hasn't found that aggressiveness yet in the running game. With his ability to get on base he has the potential to reach the 20 stolen base plateau and getting better first jumps would help him come close to that level.

Defense. Sublett isn't a game-changer defensively, neither at second base nor in centerfield. At second he lacks a fluidity to his game, but he has gotten better at turning double-plays and he's more than solid enough to handle the position if called upon. Surprisingly, he looked quite solid in centerfield considering having so little experience at the position. He shows adequate range, decent jumps on the ball, and a former college pitcher, he boasts a plus arm there.

Projection. Three seasons into his professional career, Sublett has yet to reach the 800 at-bat mark so there's still some significant upside to his game. Few prospects have his kind of patience at the plate and, with his bat speed, there really isn't a pitch he can't hit. He also has power potential but it's limited to the gaps at the current time. If his home run power could reach the double-digit level, and many scouts believe it could, and if he can continue to show consistent outfield play, he has a decent chance of developing into a starting big leaguer. Until that power develops, however, with his propensity to draw walks and ability to play two positions up the middle adequately, he projects best as utility player with significant offensive potential. Don't discount the upside here.

ETA. 2011. Sublett will be ticketed for Double-A Trenton. Which position he will play is still up in the air, but he's one breakout season away from receiving 40-man roster consideration.

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