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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Todd Linden

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 6/30/80, Age: 21, Bats/Throws: B/R, Height: 6’3’’, Weight: 225. Acquired: Giants - Drafted in the 1st Round of the 2001 Draft (LSU). 2001 Stats: DNP - signed contract for 2002. 2002 Stats: (AA - Shreveport) .314 AVG, 255 AB, 18 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 8 SB, 30 BB, 64 K, .395 OBP, .435 SLG.
    Todd Linden was a sandwich pick for the Giants in the 2001 draft, and he may provide some much-needed assistance for Barry Bonds faster than most of his draft classmates would have. Linden dropped a bit in the draft after enduring a somewhat-forced transfer to LSU following an excellent sophomore year at Washington and subsequent performance in the Cape Cod League, and strongly considered returning to LSU for his senior season before signing with the Giants right before starting school. It looks like that was a good decision, as Linden has quickly become one of the Giants best prospects, posting good enough statistics to play in the Texas League All-Star Game this week. In college, Linden was definitely a power first, average second hitter. Both tools should be considered above average, but he has shown very little home run power so far with Shreveport. His 18 doubles illustrate the power potential looming beneath the surface though, so I would expect to see him hit more than 3 homers in the second half. One thing he has worked on improving is his patience. Even in college, Linden was a free swinger, and his 25% strikeout rate shows that that has not changed. He is, however, on pace for roughly 60 walks in 500 ABs, which is acceptable for a player in his first professional season, in my opinion. This has inevitably allowed him to see more hitting counts, which is why the average is higher than many thought it would be so far. He has not begun to hit the “fat” pitches with authority yet, but give him time. On the bases, Linden is rather fast for a big man, and has 20-25 steal potential. He does appear to have the kind of body type that will slow with age, but at the beginning of his career I expect he will run quite a bit. He is adequate to slightly better in the field, with an arm that borders on average (the downside). With he and Tony Torcato both earmarked for corner outfield spots, I imagine that Linden would be the one playing right field, but he might be better suited for left, all things being equal. The one thing about Todd Linden that everyone mentions without fail is his confidence. Apparently it rubs many people the wrong way, but as a outsider, I consider it a positive. At this level of play, the differences between players are really quite small. Something as simple as believing you are the best player on the field could certainly be the difference between a solid major-league career and a career spent as a quadruple-A player, and Linden has that aura.
    The Giants, in my opinion, could not have made a much better selection last year with pick 44 than Todd Linden. Their window of opportunity, at least with Barry, is growing small. They certainly have the pitching required to compete, but are woefully short in the hitting department. The Giants actually have two pitchers that are hitting better than half of their starting lineup this year, which has been about par for the course during Bonds’ last few seasons. In Linden, they acquired a player that is capable of helping them fill part of that void. Since Bonds is not going to play center (and neither are Torcato or Linden), one of the anchors around the offense (likely Shinjo) has to be kept around for now. That means that, perhaps as soon as next year, Torcato and Linden will battle for the other open outfield spot, with the loser either being shipped off or stalled. I think that Torcato is a better pure hitter, and should hit for a higher average, but Linden is better in every other facet of the game. Therefore, I think that Todd Linden will be up with the Giants sometime next year, and will likely be starting in right field for them in 2004. I see Linden’s skill set as a fairly good comp with Jose Cruz Jr., with a bit less speed, but his numbers so far are actually falling in line with his OF rival, Tony Torcato. I think that Linden will ultimately have a solid major-league career, but probably will not develop into a star. The Giants don’t need another star, though: they need somebody who can post an .800 OPS. Linden can do that, and I think we will see it soon. 


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