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July 10, 2010 at 8:04 AM

The Book: Kolbrin Vitek

3B Kolbrin Vitek
Date: July 8, 2010
Team: Lowell Spinners

Line: 0 for 4, 2 groundouts, 1 fly out, 1 pop out, 1 walk

Swing: Vitek possesses a smooth, easy swing highlighted by extremely quick hands that generate exceptional batspeed through the hitting zone. Quiet upon the pitch’s approach to the plate, he loads his hands from chest level without much wasted effort and begins his swing in a very sound position to explode towards the baseball. Vitek uses his hands to keep them inside of the ball and as a result his swing is compact, with shorter extension to the point of contact. This enables him to drive the ball with backspin and reduces any holes on the inside third of the plate that would open up due to over-extending early. Because of his plus batspeed and ability to get the fat part of the barrel on many offerings, he produces good power when he squares balls up, despite more of a level plane through the point of contact. By learning to create more lift and arch, Vitek has the potential to have above-average power as he naturally creates line drives that carry at this point in his career. His swing projects to enable him to be a hitter with very good bat control and maintain high rates of contact as he progresses through the ranks of the Red Sox system.

Approach: Vitek stays square to the ball with his shoulders and utilizes a short stride to keep himself balanced. This allows him to stay on the ball, and compounded with keeping his hands within the baseball, he is able to hit to all fields with authority. Honed in college at Ball State, Vitek looks up the middle and reacts to fastballs on the inner third of the plate. He has shown the ability to stay back on breaking balls and to be able to recognize them earlier out of the pitcher’s hand. However, he hasn’t produced much solid contact on secondary offerings yet and can tend to reach across the strike zone to yank ones moving away from him, rather than go with them. With a polished understanding of the strike zone, Vitek does not chase too many balls off the plate unless he is protecting with two strikes. He is selective enough to work himself into good counts, but can tend to look middle-in a bit too much early in the count, which leaves him prone to balls on the outer third of the plate. Vitek should continue to demonstrate stronger on-base skills at more advanced levels, but will have his discipline tested by pitchers with better command.

Take: Vitek joined the Red Sox organization with highly regarded overall skills and thus far they have been as advertised. Still adjusting to wood bats and facing top competition on a daily basis, he has been finding his footing in professional baseball and has had inconsistent results in the early going, but as he gets more settled, look for him to start to trend upwards. Vitek has the makings of an above-average hitter with the potential to flash pretty good power down the line as he continues to develop. His bat will be a very key selling point for him. Once settled into hitting with wood, Vitek could track relatively quickly to Double-A and be on the major league horizon not too soon after that. His compact stroke and excellent batting eye can allow him to adjust quicker to the advancements in pitching at each level. This summer really stands as a time for him to get adjusted to professional pitching and ramp into his first year in full-season ball offensively. An athletic player with a lean build, Vitek has solid-average speed and possesses a plus arm as former pitcher in college. Because of this, he played second base this year and has since moved back over to third base in the pros. Vitek has been coming back up to speed with playing the hot corner and there has been an adjustment period. Initially, his reactions and first step looked a bit behind the curve, but he has been putting a lot of extra effort into polishing off his defense during his preparation time before games. This will be a key area of focus for him heading into next season. Prior to the draft, some scouts believed that Vitek would be better suited in center field, where his bat would be a strong commodity. It remains to be seen where he ultimately projects defensively down the line, but he’ll get a chance to stick in the infield first. Vitek enters the system as a more polished player, but still has some development ahead of him. Once he gets comfortable and makes a few tweaks, he has the overall package to really take off and provide the Red Sox with a potential impact bat hitting in their lineup.