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Japhet Amador Could be a Darkhorse


Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Japhet Amador is an unknown to a lot of Houston Astros’ fans. A big unknown at that. The 6-foot-4 slugger who weighs in at 315 pounds certainly packs the power. And that is what will likely get him noticed this Spring Training and throughout the 2014 season.

Prior to being signed by the Astros out of the Mexican League in August, Amador had carved out a nice seven year career in which he batted .320 and hit 112 home runs. Those statistics do not directly translate to Major League production as the generally accepted equivalent is Triple-A competition.

But regardless of that, it is not a secret that Amador is a legitimate power threat. Former Astros’ scout Bernie Pleskoff took an in depth look at the first baseman, and overall came across pleased.

"However, Amador has the power and potential to succeed for the Astros. His challenge will be to translate his success from Mexico to the type of baseball played in America."

At the same time though, Amador does have some holes in his game. Yes his production has stood out in the Mexican League, but it has been in spite of some flaws. Again, that does not mean he doesn’t have talent, but his adjustments need to be twofold. The first is becoming accustomed to a higher level of competition, and the second is fine tuning his own game.

"I saw Amador during the recently concluded Arizona Fall League. He made an impression as a player with potential, but one that must make adjustments at the plate.Amador will have to adjust to greater velocity and recognize pitches quicker. He will have to begin his swing a bit sooner and be much quicker through the ball.Amador holds his bat upright, with a slight tilt towards his ear. Hitting right-handed, Amador had some trouble recognizing pitches, resulting in him lunging after balls at times. He lacked plate discipline."

Part of the issue here, and perhaps why he wouldn’t start the year with the Astros, is that based on his talent and the pitcher’s he was facing, he didn’t need to do anything differently within his game. But at the same time, there is a lot to work with here, and a signing with no risk at all could end up having a nice return.