Tony Kemp – Legitimate Prospect or Future Utility Player?

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There are certain statistics that just jump off a page. For instance, if a potential prospect, especially someone who plays a middle infield position, is posting an OPS of over .850, he is certainly worth taking a second look at. That is the case with Tony Kemp, the Astros fifth round pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft.

Last season, playing for both the Lancaster JetHawks and the Corpus Christi Hooks, Kemp posted a .316/.411/.449 batting line, hitting eight home runs and stealing 41 bases. Looking like someone who may well be a prototypical leadoff hitter, Kemp drew 73 walks while striking out only 67 times. He has certainly displayed a solid eye for the plate and an ability to put the bat on the ball.

When Tony Kemp did put the bat on the ball, he typically played to his speed. While he hit line drives at an above average rate, the speedy Kemp typically hit a ground ball, as he did in 41.6% of his at bats. As someone who is not likely to have much pop, given his 5’6″ 165 lb frame, this approach was certainly suited to his strengths offensively. Indeed, Kemp had a ground ball to fly ball rate of 1.19 last season.

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There are two main problems in projecting Kemp forward. First is his aforementioned size, or lack thereof. Obviously, considering the Astros have Jose Altuve, the diminutive Kemp would not be facing any type of negative bias for his size, but it does limit the type of player he is likely to become. In fact, Kemp is likely to be Altuve Light, with not as much power but the potential to be a wonder on the basepaths.

Altuve actually is part of the second problem as well, since Tony Kemp is a second baseman by trade. Obviously, with Altuve manning the position for the foreseeable future, Kemp is blocked as a second baseman. While Kemp has played in the outfield during his college career, he has played all of nine games in the outfield in his professional career. While he is fast, would he be able to survive in the outfield at his height?

If Kemp is to make it to the majors with the Astros, changing positions may well be a part of his path. However, even if he was to move to short or into the outfield, he would appear to be blocked. Carlos Correa is the shortstop of the future, and appears as though he could develop into a special player. The Astros have plenty of prospects in the outfield, all of which would seem to have a higher ceiling than Kemp.

As it appears, Tony kemp may end up being a utility player for the Astros in the future. He could be someone who could appear in 100 games, but never play more than 25 at any one position. His speed and outfield experience make him potentially valuable, especially if he can learn to play short as he advances through the system.

Tony Kemp has performed well in his minor league career up to this point. Unfortunately, that may not result in an every day position in the majors.

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