When it comes to LeVon Washington, I am among a very small minority of analysts who still have faith in his ability. Many look at him as a very raw athlete that needs to be molded, especially after they look at his disappointing .218/.331/.315 slash-line with Single-A Lake County in 2011.
But the truth is, Washington is a lot farther along than many seem to believe.
What jumps out to me most is how much higher Washington’s on-base percentage was than his his batting average. His 14 percent walk rate points to Washington still being a patient hitter at the plate despite his struggles. As a future leadoff hitter, this is huge for Washington and shows that he’s a more polished hitter than most believe.
Obviously though, the rest of that slashline is unacceptable. Washington will never be a .300 hitter—maybe something in the .260-.270 range would be the norm in his prime. His slugging percentage is the most disappointing part of his game for me. Washington’s game is mostly molded around his feet, but I thought I would see some more projectable power from his wiry frame. Despite playing in 79 games in 2011, Washington mustered just 17 extra-base hits.
Defense is be a question mark for Washington as well. He has the speed and range to play center field, but his throwing arm could be the worst thing Cleveland has seen since Milton Bradley‘s temper. Washington played second base in high school and switched to center for his one year in junior college, where most scouts saw him. He certainly won’t be a Gold Glover, but as long as you don’t expect him to throw too many guys out at the plate he should do fine.
As I alluded to earlier, Washington has been left off many other top 10 lists because of his poor 2011. It was definitely a forgettable year, but it doesn’t make Washington a forgettable prospect. Washington’s upside is so high that I still kept him in my top five.
I can see Washington as a Desmond Jennings or Cameron Maybin type player. I’m hoping Washington can show some double-digit power in his prime, and he can definitely keep up with Jennings and Maybin on the basepaths.
I expect to see better things from Washington this year, when he’ll probably start out at Lake County and should soon be promoted to High-A Kinston. The power might not come yet, but Washington will need to get his numbers up in order to stay on my list next year.