Monday, September 17, 2007

Green Diamonds: Hank Conger, C, Cedar Rapids (A, LAA)

Hyun Choi (Hank) Conger, C
DOB: Jan. 29, 1988
HT: 6' WT: 205
Drafted: Huntington Beach, CA (HS), 2006, 1st Rd.
Signed By: Bobby DeJardin

HISTORY: Given name is Hyun; was nicknamed Hank by his grandfather, taken from Hank Aaron, having had difficulty pronouncing Hyun Choi...Signed for $1.35 mil...Rated as #1 prospect in Arizona League in 2006, debut season cut short to only 19 games after suffering hamate fracture in right hand...Hit .319/.382/.522 in 69 AB in '06, .290/.336/.472 with Cedar Rapids (A) in the Midwest League in '07...Also had 21 2B, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 9 SB in his Class A debut...Gatorade's 2006 California Player of the Year...Has also played 3B, 1B, SS and the OF as a prep player...Named by Baseball America as Best Power Hitter among HS players, 4th best position player in the 2006 Draft (20th overall)...2006 Louisville Slugger Pre-Season High School All-American first team, 2006 and 2005 Cal Hi Player of the Year, and 2005 AFLAC All-American first team.

STRENGTHS: Aggressive hitter, plus power to all fields from both sides of the plate and makes consistent contact...Impressive makeup, mature beyond his years...Arm grades well at C; Pop time of 1.85 sec (measured in 2004)...7.3 in the 60 (also in 2004)...Works very hard at honing his craft, from all accounts.

WEAKNESSES: Does not currently project well if he remains behind the plate; there is some question as to whether he will remain mobile enough to handle the position...Hands and catch-and-throw skills play well now, however...Swing is more a matter of trying to muscle the ball, and has not yet learned to let his leverage work for him...Somewhat pronounced uppercut will cost him Ks at the plate in the higher levels...9 steals was probably a stretch, as he is not a great runner.

OUTLOOK: His power is enough to take him to the Majors, but I doubt he'll be behind the plate when he gets there. If he can maintain some kind of mobility and improve his footwork, he could be a fine corner infielder. The arm strength is already there, and he has the makeup to adjust well to learning a new position. If I'm running the Angels, I'm getting him some work at third and first before he rises above High-A. His value would obviously be higher if he were able to remain behind the plate, but that's not likely to happen. As things stand, I'd like to see a bit more from him before I make a judgement on him, but I like the potential here. You should watch his progress; it may be interesting.

Clinton Riddle
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