Thursday, November 26, 2009

2010 Top Prospect List: #24 Josh Fellhauer, of

Josh Fellhauer
Height 5-11, Weight 180, B/T: L/L, DOB: 3/24/1988
2009 Redlegs Baseball Prospect Ranking: Not Ranked

After finding a sneaky good value from Cal State Fullerton in Danny Dorn, the Reds once again returned to the well in 2009 in hopes of finding another good value in Josh Fellhauer. The Reds selected Fellhauer with the 209th overall pick in the 7th round of the 2009 draft.

Fullerton is an elite college baseball program that produces polished, well-rounded players, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that players drafted in the mid-to-late rounds out of Fullerton more than hold their own in the professional ranks. These mid-to-later round CSF guys may not have the best tools or athleticism, but they certainly seem to know how to get the most out of their ability.


Fellhauer played three years for the Titans. He started out his collegiate career as a platoon outfielder, but emerged as the starting leftfielder and one of the better hitters on the team as a freshman. He ended up the season with a slash line of .304/.379/.429/.808, which is a solid debut season for a freshman.

As a sophomore, Fellhauer was the everyday centerfielder and was selected to the All Big-West Conference Second Team. He took his offensive game to another level in 2008 by adding more power, as he posted a .335/.392/.517/.909. He posted a 10 game hitting streak and two 6 game hitting streaks. He finished 2nd in the Big West Conference with 62 runs scored, 3rd in hits with 90, 3rd in doubles with 20, 6th in triples with 4, 2nd in total bases with 139, and 9th in stolen bases with 17.

In 2009, as a junior Fellhauer posted his best ever collegiate season. He flashed an intriguing, well rounded offensive game against top collegiate competition. On the season, he hit .396/.480/.529 with 6 homers, 18 stolen bases, and a 26/26 K/BB ratio. Obviously, there are some significant positives, but a few red flags as well. His 18 stolen bases come with 13 caught stealings. And, as impressive as his isolated on base percentage is, it was achieved in part by 16 hit by pitches. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with using the hit by pitch as an offensive weapon (Craig Biggio used it to great effect), but it remains to be seen whether he will continue to use it as a weapon in the professional ranks. It's one thing to leave your elbow out over the plate against a collegiate curveball, but it's something else entirely to do it against a big league caliber fastball.

Overall, Fellhauer has continued to improve his game as he has gained more experience. He doesn't seem to have any true standout tools, but his offensive game is well-rounded and he can certainly hit. In addition, he has baseball in the bloodlines, as his grandfather, Richard, played for the St. Louis Browns and his father, Robert, was a 6th round draft pick of the Oakland A's as a shortstop.


In 2008, Fellhauer was selected to play for Team USA in the FISU World Championship. The team went 24-0 to win the gold medal. He played all three outfield positions, hit .299 with two homers, 6 doubles, and stole two bases. He obviously built on that experience during his impressive junior campaign at Fullerton. It's always a good sign when a player has success at the international level, as well as in collegiate ranks.


After agreeing to terms, the Reds sent Fellhauer to low-A Dayton to begin his professional career. At Dayton, Fellhauer posted a slash line of .280/.351/.453 with a 34/19 K/BB ratio, 7 homers, and 7 steals in 264 plate appearances and 57 games. Solid production, but nothing really eye popping. Interestingly enough, Fellhauer DID continue to utilize the hit-by-pitch in his offensive arsenal, as he was plunked 7 times in 2009. He also demonstrated a fairly substantial platoon split, posting a .720 OPS against lefties and an .826 OPS against righties. Of course, that is fairly common among lefthanded hitters, as they simply don't see all that many quality southpaws in the amateur ranks. It typically takes time and experience to adjust to the better lefthanded pitching at the professional level.

For Dayton, Fellhauer hit line drives at only a 16% clip, which certainly leaves something to be desired. However, he made contact at a good rate and continued putting the ball in play with great frequency (12.9% K rate). Unfortunately, he struggled to drive the ball with authority when he did put it into play. It was a small sample size and his first taste of pro-ball, but if his performance at Dayton was indicative of his true baseline of performance, then he will need to continue improving his overall game as he climbs the ladder.


At the plate, Fellhauer uses a quiet approach. His stance is slightly open and a bit wider than shoulder width. He uses a very small stride to trigger the weight transfer and close up his stance. He maintains good balance and exhibits good body control throughout the swing. His hand position originates in front of his left shoulder and he brings them back into hitting position as the pitcher gets ready to deliver the ball. As his weight transfers, Fellhauer uses good hip rotation to clear them out of the way and generate bat speed. He keeps his head down on the ball and uses a compact, line drive swing that allows him to center the ball on the barrel of the bat. On his follow through, he keeps both hands on the bat, which arguably limits his extension and perhaps even saps his power, but increases his bat control and stability throughout the swing.

His swing caught the eye of Ken Griffey Sr., who is acting as an assistant to the minor league personnel director, who said “He reminds me a little of Chase — he has a swing like Utley’s. I watched Chase from AA until he got to the big leagues.” And, not surprisingly, Fellhauer didn't object to such an impressive comparison, stating with a laugh, “I’ll take that. (Utley) stays inside on the ball and sends it to all fields.” So, obviously I'm not the only one who is impressed with Fellhauer's swing.

Here is a look at his swing, courtesy of RedsMinorLeagues on YouTube:

Overall, Fellhauer has a nice, compact swing that enables him to be quick to the ball and make consistent contact. If you want to take a look at his throwing arm or see more of his swing in action, then definitely check out this scouting video from


On the defensive side, Fellhauer has a solid arm and runs fairly well. While playing for Fullerton and Team USA, Fellhauer spent time at all three outfield positions. Obviously, versatility is a good thing, but in this case it may be supportive of the premise that his range is stretched in center.

The Reds used him in centerfield 41 times in 2009 and in rightfield 12 times. rates him as having below average range in center and average range in rightfield. Obviously, it's a very small sample size and fielding metrics are not absolute, but proving to be able to competently handle a premier defensive position would allow him to get away with a lower level of offensive performance. Given his lack of impact power, the Reds are likely to leave him in center unless he proves that he can't handle it.


Fellhauer is an interesting prospect and one that I want to like even more than I do. He has the smooth swing, intangibles, and polish that I like to see in prospects, but I am finding it somewhat difficult to set forth reasons for true optimism about his prospects for a significant MLB career. Fellhauer is a polished college prospect who does everything well, but nothing great. He's a "jack of all trades, but master of none" type. He simply doesn't have a stand out tool that would help him progress up the ladder. Given his current baseline performance, Fellhauer is going to have improve in one or several areas to have a legitimate chance at carving out an MLB career. Ideally, the improvement would come in his speed, power, or on-base skills. Unfortunately, I'm struggling to find an area that he will be able to improve upon to any significant degree.

Fellhauer lasted until round 7 because of his lack of plus tools. His tools all grade out pretty average across the board. In addition, his smaller frame simply doesn't allow for a great deal of physical projection, so it's not easy to predict a significant spike in power as he continues to develop. His speed also isn't something that he's going to be able to improve upon in any meaningful way. Finally, his on-base skills are solid, but are currently being aided by the hit-by-pitch, so I'm not sure his ability to control the strike zone is even as strong as it may look at first blush and anyway that's an area where significant improvement is typically difficult, if not impossible.

So, where does the needed improvement come from?

Fellhauer has a nice, well-rounded game and he certainly knows how to hit. In addition, he strikes me as the kind of player whose overall game is something greater than merely the sum of the individual parts. Those are the types of players for whom it is always easy to root. However, despite his compact, fundamentally sound swing, things would seemingly have to break just right in order for him emerge as an every day MLB player. What he does, he certainly does well, but I'm just not sure how much projection he actually has left. He needs to take his baseline level of performance up a notch, but he may already be bumping his head on the ceiling.

For now, Fellhauer checks in at #24 on the list. He'll need to find and unlock some additional potential in order to climb up higher in the future. Hopefully, he'll be able to make some adjustments to do just that as he enters his second season of professional ball. He certainly has the swing to do so, but he'll need to pair it with some secondary skills to really increase his production and value.


  1. i thought you would like him more than byron lark, but good spot for him. I definatly like his swing. very smooth

  2. Smitty,

    I was conflicted on Fellhauer. He's the type of prospect that I DO like. He's got a sweet lefthanded swing and he's a polished college prospect with an understanding of how to play the game. On a gut level, I prefer college prospects to high school prospects, especially those who play at big time collegiate programs and face advanced competition.

    Even so, the more I looked at Fellhauer, the more I wondered if he had the tools to become an impact player. I think he does a nice job of getting the most from his abilities, but I'm just not sure there is any real projection left in him. His tools are pretty average across the board and it's difficult to see a great deal of power projection in his game.

    I prefer Wiley because he has a similar smooth swing, but also has plus-plus on-base skills. When I compare the two, Wiley's plus on-base skills give him an edge over Fellhauer. Wiley also has two physical build advantages on Fellhauer: 1) a couple of inches in height and 2) a more muscular build. In theory, these two advantages should give Wiley a bit more power potential.

    I must admit, I also compared Fellhauer to his fellow Titan Danny Dorn. If Danny Dorn (who likely has a significant advantage in on-base skills and power on Fellhauer) can't get a shot at an MLB job with the Reds, then how will Fellhauer (who lacks any true plus tools) crack the Reds?

    I'm hopeful that Fellhauer proves me wrong, but I'm just not sure how much upside he has left in his game.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!


  3. Ultimately, I think a guy with a plus tool or two has a better chance to make an impact than a well-rounded prospect who lacks a plus tool.

    I'd be curious to get your take, what's the best case scenario for Fellhauer? Obviously, it would be sticking in centerfield, but on the offensive side what do you consider to be a realistic level of performance for Fellhauer?

  4. Well he would definatly have to stick in center, and from sources ive heard he has the speed to do so. something that i dont see happening with byron, which is why i dont think he will ever be as high as a prospect in my mind. Fellhauer has enough speed to steal some bases which he will definatly need to perfect in the future and i like his left handed swing alot. If he can continue to hit i see him like another valaika, someone with no below avg tools but not bove avg tools who can barely field his position well enough to stick there. (Although i think fellhauer is a better centerfielder than valaika a shorstop.)

    He could be a good 4th outfielder type who can play all 3 spots(dorn cant) and be a left hander off the bench. I dont ever see him as a starter what with stubbs, heisey, and rodriguez in our system ahead and behind him. But i still cant help but like him for what he is.

    But he really needs to stick in center, develop his speed/stealing, continue to improve his on base skills, hit around 450 slg, and then he could climb the charts kind of like heisey did

  5. Smitty,

    I hope you're right. To me, Fellhauer is looking a lot like a true tweener. Not enough range for center and not enough bat for anything else.

    More than anything, I question whether he has the power, speed, or on-base skills to go with his sweet swing and ability to hit for average. Does he have the power to hit 20+ homers? Does he have the speed to steal 30+ bases? Does he have the on-base skill to draw 70+ walks in a year?

    He has to bring something more than batting average to the table. Another guy that came to mind when you looking at Fellhauer is Sam Fuld. Fuld came out of an elite college baseball program and holds the record for most career hits in the College World Series. Even so, Fuld has had a difficult time cracking the every day lineup and that's in spite of his plus on-base skills and plus centerfield defense.

    Being able to stick in center would be a big plus, but I have concerns about Fellhauer's ability to make an impact on the offensive side.

    When I originally was projecting the top prospect list, I had envisioned Fellhauer in the 18-20 range. The more I looked into it, the more questions were generated about whether Fellhauer has "enough" on the offensive side. Interesting to hear that you seem to view him as having a bit more speed and power potential than I do.


  6. well thats just what ive herd untill your post. Your the first person ive heard that thought he couldnt stick in center, everyone else told me he has the speed to do so. But i think i trust your judgement a little more than the others so im leaning more your way for now. We shall see

  7. im extremely interested in where you have oliveras and silva and some of the other centerfielders we have in the system compared to fellhauer. In my mind Fellhauer was the guy behind heisey and rodriguez but i remember you being high on oliveras. Cant wait for the rest of the list

  8. Smitty,

    Well, on Fellhauer, my concerns are more about his bat than his glove. I don't think we have a large enough sample size to make a determination on his defensive game quite yet. So, he could certainly prove to be a viable option in center.

    Even so, neither the scouting reports nor early statistics indicate that he's a Stubbs/Dickerson caliber center fielder. If he does stick in center, he seems more likely to be solid, league average than elite, Gold Glove. He does have solid speed, but there is more to good outfield defense than just foot speed, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles center over a larger sample size. As a CSF guy, I'd be surprised if he doesn't do the "little things" (getting good reads, taking the proper angles, etc) rather well.

    Still, I'm not seeing him as an impact defender in center in the mold of Dickerson/Stubbs or an impact bat at the plate. He's a nice player/prospect and I hope he takes his overall game up a notch to a level where he can become an impact player in the professional ranks. The 2010 season will reveal a lot about his game, but for now he strikes me as being a complimentary type player.

    Thanks for the comment.


  9. i definitely dont see him as a stubbs. Stubbs is the man, He will be our mvp this year in terms of WAR. write that down and remember it.

  10. Smitty,

    You may well be right. He's going to have massive value on the defensive side, so if he hits a little bit, then he should be right in the mix.

    I'm not sure the improvement in run prevention that the Reds will receive from having a full season of Stubbs and Rolen (barring injury) is being talked about enough. It could have a significant impact on the pitching staff and W/L record.


  11. i agree completly. with the improvement of stubbs over willy T and rolen ove EE, thats well worth 5 wins right there and if bruce can hit like we know he can, im really excited about the upcoming season. We need bailey to keep improving, bruce to perform to his level, stubbs/rolen, and young guys to perform and we could make a run at the central

  12. Smitty,

    Agreed. The Reds third base contingent in 2009 pre-Rolen was essentially replacement level. Rolen could be a 3 win improvement all by himself. Stubbs SHOULD be a significant upgrade over Willy T.

    The big question mark is likely to be on the hill. We need Homer and Cueto to take a big step forward if we're going to compete.


  13. So much for posting 1 every other day. i dont mean to ride you about this because im sure these take time to right like you said but its been a week with nothing. i mean come on it cant take a week to right 1 prospect artical.

  14. Anon,

    I crank them out as fast as I can. I have quite a bit going on these days and other obligations to meet. Unfortunately, this blog doesn't pay the bills, so I don't get as much time to work on it as I might like. And, when you factor in both the research and writing, these posts do take a bit of time. Even so, I'm still trying to crank out 2 or 3 write-ups a week and I'm not far off from doing just that. As I mentioned before, the posts will come in spurts, as they depend on me having time to work on them.