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Top Prospect Alert - Marlon Byrd

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 8/30/77, Age: 24, Height: 6’0’’, Weight: 225, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Phillies - Drafted 10th Round of 1999 Draft (Georgia Perimeter JC). 2000 Stats: (Low A - Piedmont) .309 AVG, 515 AB, 29 2B, 13 3B, 17 HR, 41 SB, 51 BB, 110 K, .379 OBP, .515 SLG. 2001 Stats: (AA - Reading) .316 AVG, 510 AB, 22 2B, 8 3B, 28 HR, 32 SB, 52 BB, 93 K, .386 OBP, .555 SLG.
   After opting out of his Georgia Tech football scholarship, Marlon Byrd has been able to reach the “holy grail” of prospectdom: conversion of tools to skills. Byrd has the typical skill set of an “other sport” athlete: speed, power, and athleticism afield. He also has, on occasion, exhibited the main “other sport” weakness: strike zone judgment. Byrd made the jump to AA from the Sally League this season, and increased his BA, OBP, and SLG numbers while decreasing his strikeouts. When endeavoring to find a ceiling for Byrd, plate discipline is a major area that will affect it. Comparing Byrd’s walk totals to those of “other sport” athletes Brian Jordan (29 max.), Bo Jackson (44 max.), and even HOFer Dave Winfield (69 max.) during their first six major-league years, and his 51 and 52 look like the foundation of reasonable plate discipline. More impressive but perhaps less important than Byrd’s walk/strikeout totals are his stolen base numbers. After stealing 41 out of 46 in 2000, Byrd followed that up with 32 out of 37 this year. I can’t stress enough the importance of remembering that Byrd jumped from Low-A ball to AA and still dominated the league. He is a legitimate top prospect, not an over-hyped conversion case. On defense, Byrd is very athletic with great speed, but his arm is slightly below average. He is probably slated for a left field job with the Phils, although he could play center serviceably if needed.
   Marlon Byrd is nearly ready for a major league position. The Phillies are set in right with Abreu, and will need to decide between Glanville and Taylor in center and Byrd and Valent in right. Sooner or later, Byrd will find his way into the outfield in P-Town. It might be this spring, but I think he’ll end up back in AAA if he doesn’t win the job outright, which he probably isn’t quite ready to do just yet. There’s no reason to retard his development by denying him at-bats at age 24 from the Phillies perspective, so he’ll probably see some time in Scranton. With converted “other sport” athletes, there are many Josh Booty’s for every Kenny Lofton. Byrd should be one of the good ones; probably better than Brian Jordan. He might end up with a career like Kenny Lofton’s, with power being his primary attribute instead of speed. I don’t think we’re looking at the next Dave Winfield, but one could make a case for it.


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