Drafted by the Mets in the ninth round, Kevin Kaczmarski is as old as draftees typically get. Next year will be his age-24 season, so if his time as a prospect is already expiring and he’ll have to move quickly to have a significant major league career.
An outfielder at Evansville whose father, Randy, was a minor leaguer in the Padres organization, Kaczmarski had been a steady producer over his first three seasons before exploding during his redshirt senior season (he missed his true freshman year with a broken foot). One of the most productive hitters in the nation in 2015, he hit an astounding .465/.543/.746 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
At 5-11 and 185 pounds, Kaczmarski doesn’t have a lot of size, but he has some raw power and average bat speed, but he has some great hand-eye coordination that helps him square up on pitches well. He can be beat with good fastballs and fooled by good breaking balls, but when his timing is right, he usually connects. The swing is simple and somewhat similar to Patrick Mazeika’s: he has a deep hand load, is prone to overstriding, and it’s more geared toward hitting line drives into the gaps than catapulting balls over the fence. There’s a little bit of length, but it’s not bad at all. However, he doesn’t really have Mazeika’s approach at the plate. He’ll take the occasional walk, but he doesn’t accumulate them at nearly the same rate.
And also like Mazeika, defensively he’s a question mark. He played center for Evansville, but that probably won’t happen in the minors. Despite stealing 48 bases over his college career, his speed is just average, so in order to stick in center he’ll need some extraordinary instincts, something I don’t believe he has. Instead, he’ll move over to left due to fringy arm strength, and his bat probably won’t produce enough to man the position as a starter. Instead, his best bet is to make it as a fourth outfielder, where he could perhaps spend some time in center in the service of spelling more athletic regular outfielders.
In the end, Kaczmarski probably doesn’t excel at enough things to have a chance at much more than that fourth outfielder role, unless the gains he made as a senior represent a moment at the pump. More likely, he was just a solid college player who had a great season by virtue of his being more mature than the competition—which isn’t all that great in the MVC—and by virtue of his being familiar with that competition—remember, he did essentially repeat the same level for the fourth time. Which isn’t to say that he’s of no use; just that his upside is limited. He’s a sure bet to sign with the team and will probably sign cheap.