Saturday, November 10, 2007
Top Prospect List: #12 Danny Dorn, OF
Danny Dorn may be the surprise of the Reds farm system. He was almost an afterthought in the 2006 amateur draft, as he was taken in the 32nd round with the 954th pick overall. He was not even listed among the Reds' top 30 prospects by Baseball America in their 2007 Prospect Handbook, however he's proven to be much more than just an also ran in the Reds' farm system. All Danny Dorn has done since joining the Reds organization is hit.
Dorn is 6'2, weighs in at 205 lbs, and was only 22 in 2007. He both throws and bats from the left side. Dorn played his college ball at Cal State Fullerton, one of the premier baseball schools in the country. At Fullerton, Dorn posted a career line of .320/.428/.494/.923. He wasn't a tremendous power threat and didn't have great wheels on the bases, but Dorn could hit and had great command of the strikezone. He's the type of player who greater than the sum of his individual tools, which you love to see in a ballplayer.
Dorn had no problems shifting from metal to wood bats. After being selected behind 953 other players, Dorn hit the ground running in 2006 with Billings in the Pioneer league, hitting a robust .354/.457/.573/1.030.
Dorn has truly one of the prettiest swings you'll see, so his performance is hardly a surprise. His swing is smooth, compact, and graceful. He's got tremendous tempo and fantastic balance (which you can see in this photo), which enables him to make consistent, solid contact. In addition, his good pitch recognition skills and great balance enable him to avoid getting fooled by off-speed pitches, as he's rarely out on the front foot.
Dorn is a rare example in which all of the movements that make up his swing come together in perfect harmony. His swing can generate solid power and consistent contact without ever getting out of balance or out of sync. It's hard to imagine someone with such a silky smooth swing not having success at the MLB level. In addition, he demonstrates a good command of the strikezone to go with his strong pitch recognition and seems to have a natural feel for hitting.
You can access the link to Dorn's MLB scouting video here.
In 2007, Dorn started out at high A Sarasota, acquitting himself very well. He hit .281/.360/.456/.816 in 388 plate appearances. He walked in 8.8% of his plate appearances and struck out in 17.8%. He hit a line drive 17% of the time, which is what you like to see.
At Sarasota, Dorn hit .207/.290/.287/.577 against lefthanded pitchers. He hit .304/.381/.512/.893 against righthanded pitchers. Clearly, that's not the kind of production you want against lefties, but his BABIP against lefty was abnormally low at .246, while his BABIP against righties was .348.
Dorn's efforts earned him a mid-season promotion to AA Chattanooga, where he actually improved on his performance. At Chattanooga, Dorn posted a line of .311/.422/.667/1.089 in 109 plate appearances. He walked in 13.8% of his plate appearances and struck out in 21.1%. His line drive percentage was 14%.
Again, at Chattanooga, Dorn struggled a bit against lefties, while hitting righties very hard. Against southpaws, he hit .100/.250/.400/.650. Against righties, he hit .338/.443/.700/1.143.
While his performance against lefties is of concern, it's not unusual for lefthanded hitters to struggle against southpaws. There just aren't that many quality southpaws in the amateur ranks, so lefties do not get a lot of experience against them until they reach the professional ranks.
Given Dorn's lack of top notch power and speed, it's his on base skills which will ultimately determine the type of career he will have. However, he continues to demonstrate strong on base skills as he climbs the rungs of the organization.
On defense, Dorn has played a lot of leftfield in the Reds organization and that's where he profiles best. He's got a solid, accurate arm, but it's not above average and his throws don't have much carry to them. He runs well, but likely lacks the range for centerfield, especially in comparison to his centerfield competition in the Reds' system, Chris Dickerson and Drew Stubbs. Ultimately, leftfield is probably his future home, which is just fine if he continues to hit.
Dorn has surprised many, likely the Reds included, but it's hard not to like what he brings to the table when you see him hit. His lack of top notch power and speed may have been a problem in the past, but the new appreciation for the value of on-base skills means that Dorn is arriving at the right time. Ultimately, Dorn will go as far as his on base skills will take him.
Dorn will likely return to Double-A Chattanooga to start the 2008 season, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he moved quickly to Triple-A Louisville. In fact, given the Reds dearth of quality upper level prospects, it wouldn't be too shocking to see Dorn start 2008 at Louisville. However, the more likely scenario is Dorn returning to Double-A to build on his success at that level. The Reds certainly aren't short on outfielders at the MLB level, so there isn't any reason to rush Dorn.
His swing has certainly made me a believer and if he continues performing at his current level, then I certainly won't be the last convert. Dorn is already performing well and he's still only 22 years old with room for growth and projection. He's not the best prospect in the system, but he's quickly becoming my favorite.