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Top Prospect Alert

Alex Escobar -- By Robert Sherry

Coming into the 1999 season, I had New York Mets centerfold prospect Alex Escobar rated as the number one overall prospect in all of the minor leagues. But this is yet another situation in a long line of recent top players (Paul Wilson, Izzy, Pulsipher, Payton, Seo, Roberts, etc.) for the Mets to be derailed by an injury that forced him to miss significant time.

A free agent signed out of Venezuela in 1995 as a 17 year old, Alex was the most exciting player in the minors during 1998. A 6 foot 1, 185 pound righthanded hitter led the Capital City Bombers to the best overall record in the minors in 1998, on their way to winning the South Atlantic League championship. Alex ended the season with a .310 average, 90 runs scored, 23 doubles, 5 triples, 27 HR's (only 1 the previous 2 seasons combined), 91 RBI, 49 steals, 54 BB's, 133 K's, and was voted the league's best prospect.

The 20 year old was supposed to play for St. Lucie Mets (High-A) in 1999. Instead, he only got in 11 AB's (5-11). Alex missed the first half of the season with a stress fracture in his lower back then, after recovering from that, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder (while on a swing that resulted in a HR) in his 3rd game. Injuries have slowed Escobar all throughout his professional career. Even in 1998, he only played in 112 games, making his stats even more impressive. He is not playing winter ball, instead he is currently working on conditioning over the off season.

He only had 184 professional AB's at Rookie-Level before the 1998 season because of a series of injuries. In the time he has been healthy, Alex is above average in every category and the only players you could compare him to in talent is Montreal's Vladimir Guerrero as well as the Braves' Andruw Jones. Escobar has the bat of Guerreo and is a natural centerfielder who surehanded and has the speed to track balls down in the gap like Jones. Although, I will not say he will be an equal to Andruw in the field as I don't feel anyone compares to Jones' natural instincts that he shows in CF.

If Alex can stay healthy, you are looking at a 30/30 player who would be a true star for years. He will probably start at St. Lucie in 2000 and if everything goes well, he could be in Binghamton by the end of the season.


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