Prospect: Kevin Maitan
Level: Rookie Ball
Age: Entering Age 18 season in 2018.
Height: 6’2” – Weight: 200 lbs
Floor: Minor League Bust.
Ceiling: Elite, all-star, hall of fame type of superstar infielder.
Likely Outcome: A very good starting 3B/1B in major leagues.
Summary: Some scouting reports are easy to write. The prospect can be close to a finished product, there is a consensus on tools, or perhaps I’d have had a chance to see them play enough to know for sure what I’m doing. Maitan’s not that kid. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched every video I can on him, and because of the hype surrounding him since age 14, there’s a ton of video on this kid. I’ve also spoken to others that have had a chance to see him. So it isn’t as if I’m working off of nothing here.
There’s just so many different directions Kevin Maitan can go. So anything I might predict on him is something I can’t place confidence in. But I do know a bit about picking apart a swing, and I trust what I’ve read and been told from others.
First, let’s provide background.
Maitan has been on major league scouts’ radar since he was 13/14 years old. At scouting tournaments, during inter-agency squad games, during workouts, he torched any pitching he saw. Teams knew he was the big prize that every organization would be shooting for. This kid has the size of a teenage Miguel Sano, Chipper Jones or Miguel Cabrera and athleticism to boot. He’s a switch hitter with developing power from both sides of the plate and excellent plate discipline. Teams saw him as the sort of kid that would be a major leaguer by the time he was 21 years old, and a superstar by the time he’s 22.
These kids do not come along but once every decade or so.
The Angels during a previous regime had actually developed a rapport with Maitan’s trainer and were very much in the thick of things while he was 14 or 15. But because of other teams showing an interest in Maitan, and lofty figures being exchanged, the Angels had come to a crossroads. See Maitan’s trainer was also training another shortstop. A young Cuban who would only need a year or two in the minors before being major league ready around age 23. He didn’t have Maitan’s upside, but he was much more of a sure thing.
His name was Roberto Baldoquin.
The Angels liked what they saw from Baldoquin so much, that they wanted to know how much it would cost for him to simply forget about any other workouts or showcases he may have with another team (Baldoquin was being showcased with fellow countryman Jose Abreu at the time). 8 million dollars was the number floated and the Angels met that number, thus effectively removing them from the Maitan sweepstakes.
But through the twists and turns of this life, the Angels found themselves in a rather unique position. A new regime was in place, and that GM’s focus has been on rebuilding the Angels farm so that they may become a perennial contender. The Braves who originally signed Maitan had illegally funneled money through other channels to pay for Maitan and others, and as a result, the Braves lost their rights to Maitan and he was declared a free agent. The Angels this time, would not be deterred, offering Kevin Maitan a 2.2 million dollar signing bonus. It’s ironic that they passed on Maitan because they spent 8 million on Roberto Baldoquin who has ended up being a bust and still ended up with Maitan for a fraction of the price.
Next, I’d like to lay all the negatives out there, just so we can enjoy the back half of this write up. First, Maitan put on a ton of weight last season. It looked to be a soft 30 lbs. Not the best thing for a wiry shortstop that already isn’t fleet footed. He had zero range in the middle infield and was working off of athleticism alone, which isn’t a good place to be in. The Braves had him on no sort of nutrition or exercise regimen and it definitely shows. Maitan’s swing was also off. He was out in front of everything, his timing was off and his swing plane didn’t match where he was contacting the ball. The swing looked slow too. Anything on the upper half was thrown too hard for him. There are reports that Maitan clashed with coaches and coordinators and wasn’t willing to listen, that he acted as if he was too good for it all. Martian has been commonly referred to as a shortstop that will inevitably move to third base, but last season, scouts weren’t sure if he could play anywhere but first base down the line. His first exposure to America, and Maitan lives at a fast food joint and occasionally hits the ball field?
This isn’t the next Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones or Miguel Sano. It couldn’t be.
Now, let’s look at the positives. Let’s allow Maitan to redeem himself a bit here. First, Maitan has dropped most if not all the weight he put on. He isn’t thin like he was at age 15, but thinner and more maneuverable than he was at this time last year. He’s moving around much better at instructs. Defensively the difference in six months couldn’t be more stark. Right now, he look like a kid that might actually stick at shortstop. The Angels put him on a more strict nutrition and workout regimen, and Maitan has reportedly been passionate about following it. The swing could still use some work, most notably his left handed swing. From the right side he looks ok. His timing has improved but there’s still some work to be done there. The Angels coaching staff and scouts have had nothing but positive things to say about Kevin’s work ethic. He moved to Arizona and has been living at the Angels Spring Training complex in Tempe continuously all winter. Also, if we’re being fair, Miguel Cabrera wasn’t terrible impressive at age 17 either. Or 18. Or even 19.
So what do I see from Maitan? The biggest thing I notice from his swing is just the amount of extension he gets on the ball. Even when his timing is off as it was this past season in Rookie Ball, even in just the BP videos, Kevin Maitan gets his hands extended and can absolutely drive the ball. It’s a lot like seeing Alex Rodriguez when he was younger. He stayed inside the ball and kept everything out in front of him. This doesn’t make him a pull hitter, but it does mean anything on the inner half can fly a very long way. Kevin swings through the ball in a manner that is largely unseen from prospects his age. There’s definitely power projection here, from both sides of the plate. Defensively, his actions are sound and Maitan has one of the better infield arms I’ve seen in the Angels system. This is partly what generates so much talk about a potential move to third base.
Finally, I’d like to talk about where I see Maitan’s career headed. There really isn’t anything blocking him from progressing through the Angels system quickly and claiming the starting third base job in three years. Whether Maitan can do that or not, I don’t know. But the Angels aren’t going to rush him in the same manner the Braves did. They want to make sure he’s fully ready, which is just a better way of doing things. It isn’t as if Maitan wasn’t ready for a stateside debut, but the Braves should’ve been quicker to recognize that rolling him out when he was struggling on and off the field, wasn’t the best idea.
I see Maitan breaking out in a big way in the Angels system. First of all, it’s a fresh start and he needed it. Second, he’s experienced failure and his response to it suggests that Maitan isn’t going to fold or shift blame anywhere else. His actions suggest that he’s taken ownership of his performance and is now preparing for success, whereas before he wasn’t. Kevin now looks like a shortstop or third baseman again. He’s as thrilled to be part of this organization as the Angels are of having him. And not to make excuses, but reworking your swing in the middle of a season is not the best time to be doing it. Of course he wasn’t experiencing success. He was using a swing that wasn’t authentically his yet. He needed to figure out all of it’s subtle nuances and these just weren’t things he could do last year. It was too new. Also, it was Kevin’s first time in the U.S., playing against competition that was much older than he was. Success just wasn’t going to happen. He wasn’t ready and the Braves hadn’t prepared him of such. Both Kevin and the Angels won’t be making that mistake.
So the end result in my opinion is that the Angels are going to have an all-star caliber third baseman that hits for average and power from both sides of the plate and is capable of winning a gold glove. Maitan will be a middle of the order hitter and part of a wave of talent (Adell, Marsh, Maitan, Deveaux) that sweeps through the Angels system and debuts in the major leagues around the same time.
Kevin Maitan is going to be a great hitter, a good defender and an asset that will someday make up the core of the Angels.
What to expect: The Angels will likely send Kevin Maitan to short season Orem this year as an 18 year old, and that’s really going to be a good fit for him. It’s a hitter friendly environment where he can experience success, it won’t be a stark step up that full season ball would be, and he can find his niche among other players that are also trying to experience success at the professional level for the first time. The Angels are adamant about developing Maitan as a shortstop, and I actually think if he remains the same size, he has a chance at sticking there until he plays on the same squad as Andrelton Simmons.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 2022, Kevin’s age 22 season.
Grade as a prospect: A-/B+
Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar. Grade B player is a future regular. Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.