Position: 2B Height: 6-0 Weight: 195 Born: 9/13/82 Bats: Right Throws: Right
As a college sophomore at Southern University in 2002, Rickie Weeks hit .495 with 20 homers, winning the NCAA Division I batting title, and putting him into contention as a first-round pick for the '03 draft. He followed that up by hitting .479 with 16 homers in 2003, winning his second straight batting title and finishing his college career with the highest batting average in NCAA history (.473). Selected second-overall in the draft, he signed a major-league contract with the Brewers, earning a reported bonus of $3.6 million. He ripped the ball hard in 21 minor-league games after signing, then went 2-for-12 in a September major-league cup-of-coffee.
Scouts say that Weeks is a five-tool player. From Down on the Farm's Seven Skill perspective, he's darn good, too. Let's run down the skills. Hitting for average: Weeks, Mr. Batting Title, certainly does that. Hitting for power: Although he's not a home run monster, scouts think he'll have the power to hit at least 20 homers in a season, with lots of doubles and triples. Controlling the strike zone: Weeks drew plenty of walks in college, with few strikeouts. I saw him play for Beloit twice, and he did a great job controlling the zone, working counts effectively. He destroyed breaking pitches and changeups, and while he had some problems getting around quickly on plus fastballs, I attributed this to rusty timing; I saw him in his third and fourth professional games after several weeks off due to contract negotiations. Nobody has any doubts about his hitting ability. As for the other skills, he's got above-average speed and is a heady, intelligent baserunner. Defensively, he has good range and a strong arm for a second baseman. His only skill flaw is defensive reliability: he makes too many errors, often on routine plays. But the athleticism to play middle infield is certainly there, and I think he'll be able to adjust given more time. Even if he can't handle second base in the long run, he has more than enough range and arm strength to play outfield. He works hard, hustles and is fundamentally sound in most respects.
The ball jumps off Weeks' bat in a special way. Statistically, he has everything you look for, both at the college level and so far in the pros. He draws large numbers of walks, with very few strikeouts. He overmatched Class A pitching in his pro debut and wasn't completely helpless against major-league competition. He is currently hitting .294 in the Arizona Fall League.
Weeks has had no significant injury problems.
What to expect
Double-A is Weeks' likely destination at the beginning of 2004. His bat is close to being major-league ready, but he needs time to iron out the defense at second base. If the Brewers decide he can't handle second, they can move him to the outfield easily enough. Offensively, there are no doubts about this one; Weeks is one of the best hitters around. He is a true multi-skilled, multi-tooled player and a joy to watch.
John Sickels is the author of the 2003 Baseball Prospect Book, which can be ordered from his Web site, JohnSickels.com. His biography of Bob Feller will be published this fall by Brassey's. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com.