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Schebler brings thump, speed, bright future

Outstanding athlete has power, but needs to cut down on strikeouts

Los Angeles Dodgers outfield prospect Scott Schebler, No. 9 on the Dodgers' Top 20 Prospects List, began to show his outstanding athletic ability while in high school at Cedar Rapids Prairie High School in Iowa. He set records in the 55-meter dash, the long jump and the 800-meter relay. Schebler also played soccer, basketball, football and baseball. His efforts led him to attend Des Moines (Iowa) Area Community College. In 2010, his only year at the junior college, Schebler led his club with a .446 batting average. Of his 91 hits, 20 were home runs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers selected the left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing Schebler in the 26th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He signed his contract late in the process and the club assigned him to the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he got his first taste of professional baseball, playing in just five games. Schebler opened some eyes with a .294 batting average and two triples in 18 plate appearances. He did not play defense in any of those games.

Schebler is 6-foot-1, 208 pounds. At 23 years old, he looks bigger in a well-proportioned frame that may still have a bit of room left for additional growth.

Schebler has legitimate power potential and good speed. Last year, he gained some confidence after a difficult 2012, when he played for Class A Great Lakes. Schebler hit .260 with just six home runs that season. But things changed last season, when he was named the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, hitting .296 with 27 home runs and 91 RBIs. He also stole 16 bases and was caught five times. Schebler played 125 games, going to the plate 534 times. Of his 141 hits, 29 were doubles and 13 were triples. It was an outstanding season.

I first saw Schebler this past Spring Training, followed by his appearance in the 2014 Southern League All Star Game, when he played left field for the Northern Division as a member of the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. Schebler caught my attention with a home run off Mississippi Braves prospect J.R. Graham. He also doubled and walked. Schebler participated in the league's Home Run Derby, which was won by the Cubs' Kris Bryant.

The major issue facing Schebler remains his high strikeout rate. Even last year, in his best season, he struck out 140 times to accompany those 27 homers. Schebler has improved this season in Double-A, but the rate is still high. He has twice as many at-bats so far against right-handed pitching, but his overall batting average against lefties is higher. That's the same as it was last year as well.

Schebler has a somewhat "beefy" type body that might be construed as a football frame. His swing can get long when he tries to do too much and hit a five-run homer. Schebler has to guard against trying to pull every pitch. He's the type of player that may see the exaggerated defensive shift to the right side until he shows he can use more of the field, taking pitches foul pole to foul pole.

Schebler has work to do recognizing pitches and being more patient at the plate. Using more discipline and recognizing breaking balls and offspeed pitches outside the strike zone will be one area that will help with gaining better contact and cutting down the strikeouts. Pitchers, however, will have difficulty getting fastballs by him that are anywhere near the strike zone. Schebler can feast on mistakes.

Defensively, Schebler profiles best as a left fielder. I think he has enough speed and a strong and accurate enough arm to be an average defender at that corner. Schebler can also play right, but he probably would find more consistent comfort and confidence in left.

Schebler has time to develop at the Minor League level. While the Dodgers may appear to be deep in outfielders at the Major League level, only Joc Pederson (No. 3) and Alex Verdugo (No. 10) join Schebler as top-rated prospect outfielders in the team's system.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter.
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