Position: 1B Height: 6-4 Weight: 230 Born: 12/17/80 Bats: Left Throws: Left
The Expos farm system is rather thin in hitting. While outfielder Terrmel Sledge is the prospect hitter most likely to make an impact this year, first baseman Larry Broadway isn't far behind. Drafted in the third round in 2002 out of Duke, Broadway was erratic in college, but has adjusted very quickly to pro ball. His .315 average would have ranked fourth in the 2002 New York-Penn League had he enough at-bats to qualify. He followed that with a strong '03 season at three levels, finishing the year with a flourish in Double-A.
Broadway has proven he can hit for both average and power against professional pitching. He has a pure stroke from the left side, can pull for power or go to the opposite field as needed. His plate discipline has been inconsistent at times, but generally speaking he avoids swinging at pitches outside the zone. Scouts say he generates plus power, and he hits his share of tape-measure home runs. Broadway holds in well against left-handed pitchers, and projects to be a regular; he won't have to be platooned. His bat speed is rated as above-average to excellent. Broadway pitched at times in college, and has a strong arm for a first baseman. He has sufficient reliability to play an outfield corner, but he is slow, his range is limited and he's best off remaining at first base. The problem here is that the Expos now have Nick Johnson manning the fort at first base, which could leave Broadway without a position if he can't play at least satisfactory defense in the outfield.
There are few things to quibble about in Broadway's numbers. He's shown the ability to hit for average and power at each level thus far, and had no problems at all adjusting to Double-A last August. His strikeout rate is a bit higher than ideal, but is far from bad, and doesn't look like anything to worry about considering that he'll take a walk. At 23, he's in between age-wise. The numbers essentially confirm the scouting reports; this guy can hit. He projects as a .260-.280 hitter at the major league level, with good-to-excellent power.
Broadway has had a few injuries, including an elbow injury in college, and some minor back trouble cut short his 2002 season. But so far there haven't been any serious health issues to impact his status as a prospect.
What to expect
The presence of Johnson means the Expos won't have to rush Broadway. He should begin the year in Double-A, with a promotion to Triple-A in the offing sometime in the second half of the year. His bat will be ready for the major leagues by 2005, though he could get a chance sooner than that if someone gets injured. The question now is defense: finding a place to stick Broadway's bat. He reminds me of Orioles outfielder/first baseman Jay Gibbons, a solid, productive hitter though not quite a star.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation, is also out, and can be ordered through on-line book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife Jeri, son Nicholas, and feline friends Toonces and Spot.