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Top Prospect Alert

Travis Dawkins -- By Robert Sherry

Travis Dawkins: When this 20-year-old shortstop made his major league debut in September 1999 he became the youngest Red player to reach the majors since Johnny Bench in 1967.

Originally a second round pick in 1997, Dawkins had a great 1999. He began the season at Single-A Rockford (.272, 305 at bats, eight homers, 32 RBI, 10 doubles, six triples, 56 runs scored, 35 walks, 38 strikeouts and 38 steals). Dawkins was then promoted to Double-A Chattanooga (.364, 129 at bats, two home runs, 13 RBI, seven doubles, 24 runs scored, 14 walks, 17 strikeouts and 15 steals). Finally, his season ended in the majors, where "Gookie" hit .143 in seven at bats (one run scored and four strikeouts). In between these stops he played in the Pan-Am Games and batted .273. All of this was done by a 20-year-old.

At 6-foot-1 and 180-pounds, this righty hitter had previously hit .241 with four home runs, 37 RBI, and 16 steals at Rookie-level Billings in 1997. A .264 average at Class-A Burlington went with one homer, 30 RBI and 37 steals. While at Class-A Rockford, Dawkins had hit .300 with 10 home runs, 45 RBI, 53 stolen bases and 80 runs scored.

Dawkins is right at, or near, the top of the list for best middle infield prospect in all of baseball. His ability reminds me of current Reds gold glover Pokey Reese. In the long run I like Dawkins better, as his fielding may prove to be just a bit better and Dawkins has a much higher offensive upside. He is not cut from the Garciaparra/A-Rod mold. Instead, he looks like a future leadoff hitter, capable of leading the league in steals, piling up infield hits and batting .300+. I like the ability he has shown in making consistent contact at the plate, especially for someone his age.

Look for Dawkins to spend 2000 at Triple-A with a late season call-up a very real possibility. He's the successor to Barry Larkin and along with Reese will form one of the best double play combos in the majors. There have been many rumors of Ken Griffey Jr. going to Cincinnati in a trade. If it happens, the Reds will certainly be forced to include this future all star in the deal. Dawkins is just starting to show some of his potential and he will only get better.


 

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