Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Player Profile: Val Majewski

Posted by Mike on January 18, 2006

It’s no secret that the Orioles farm system is well stocked in the outfield. One player that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, however, is the 2004 Bowie Baysox MVP– 24 year old OF, Val Majewski.

Background

After a successful college career as Rutger’s first baseman, the Orioles drafted Val Majewski in the third round of the 2002 draft. Apparently seeing a bit more athleticism in Val than his college coaches did, they promptly switched him to the outfield. Since then, he’s played the majority of his games as an above-average defender in RF, with the occasional start in CF. As a pro, he’s posted the following lines:
(AVG/OBP/SLG, SB/CS)

2002 (SS Aberdeen, 110 ABs)- .300/.376/.464, 8/4

2003 (Low A Delmarva, 208 ABs)- .303/.383/.553, 10/1
2003 (High A Frederick, 159 ABs)- .289/.321/.509, 0/0

2004 (AA Bowie, 433 ABs)- .307/.359/.490, 14/4

Defensively, he improved at every stop. He improved his routes on fly balls with every year of experience (which makes sense for a converted first baseman) and by 2004, he had emerged as a potential five tool talent.

Unfortunately, during his September call-up, he tore his left (throwing) labrum. Hoping it would heal without surgery, he reported to spring training in 2005 and could not play through the pain. He ended up needing the surgery anyway and missed the entire season. Majewski was healed enough in time to play in the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League as a DH. As could be expected, he started off rusty, but worked his way through to post decent campaigns in both leagues.

2005 (AFL, 73 ABs)- .274/.361/.384, 1/0
2005 (DWL, 58 ABs)- .293 /.406/.379, ?/?

Strengths

Obviously, Majewski has shown good contact skills and power throughout the minors. While he has been stretched to play CF, the very fact that it has been considered an option shows how far he’s come on defense. He is also unanimously praised for his work ethic.

For example, one anecdote I’ve heard about Majewski is that his coaches could not find him anywhere one night on a Bowie road trip. The rest of the players had come back from dinner and cavorting and whatever else it is that kids do these days. They pounded on his door and got no answer. It turns out that Majewski had beaten everyone back to the hotel, even the coaches, to get a head start on a good night’s rest before the next day’s game. He was too sound asleep to hear them knocking.

Devastating setback or not, this is exactly the type of hard-nosed ballplayer that coaches trust to get the most out of his abilities.

Weaknesses

Baseball America recently rated Majewski’s strike-zone discipline as the best in the organization. Consider this a passive-aggressive jab at the statistical analysis community. While he has taken his share of walks in his limited amount of AFL and DWL at bats, his plate discipline has been spotty at times. Long-term, it shouldn’t be a problem, but it could take him a little while to adjust to major league pitching if he’s not seeing enough pitches.

His injury could also cause a host of problems. Formerly thought of as a plus in RF, he could be shifted to LF if his arm strength doesn’t come all the way back. It might even behoove the Orioles to shift him back to 1B. Think about it- it would save his arm, there is nobody blocking him there, and an optimist would tell you it avoids a potential OF logjam in the future. Of course, his bat won’t play nearly as well if he can no longer handle CF or even RF.

Outlook

For 2006, Majewski should start the year in Ottawa. The Orioles will try to keep as many options open as possible, so he should see as much time in RF as his injury allows. If he rakes, he’ll be in the majors with the first injury to Jeff Conine, Kevin Millar, Luis Matos, Corey Patterson, Jay Gibbons, Javy Lopez, or Melvin Mora. I could even foresee a scenario where he makes the team out of spring training as a 4-start-a-week 4th OF, if Luis Matos is moved before then.

More likely, it will be 2007 when Majewski finally cracks the starting squad full-time. Be it at 1B, RF, CF, LF, or even DH, the O’s will have to make room for his bat. As disappointing as his injury was, it is still reasonable to think that a player of Majewski’s work ethic can succeed in spite of it. He may not have the ceiling of, say, Jason Kubel, but he is certainly a safer bet.

Ultimately, I see Majewski as a slightly better all-around version of Jay Gibbons. Like Jay, he should be able to slug around .500, but with a better OBP and more athleticism. How he comes back from his torn labrum will dictate whether or not he becomes as much of a liability in the field.

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7 Responses to “Player Profile: Val Majewski”

  1. Anonymous said

    Nice article. One Question though, why would the O’s “have to make room for his bat” when he sounds like he’ll probably just be a solid regular in the long run? Do you think he will be better than that or is this more of an indictment of the O’s lineup ?

  2. Mike said

    He could be an above-average regular, but more of the latter.

  3. Dizzy said

    You question Majewski’s strike zone coverage and then say that he will have a higher obp than Gibbons?

    othersiwe its a good job.

  4. Mike said

    Well if Majewski’s OBP was going to be the same as Gibbons’, I would’ve used adjectives like “God-awful”, “deplorable”, or “unsightly” to describe his strike zone judgement.

    As it is, he should have better contact skills and take more than a walk per week.

    Jamey Carroll makes an out less frequently than Jay Gibbons.

  5. Anonymous said

    Great site.

  6. Anonymous said

    Good stuff Mike. I love the player profiles.

  7. Anonymous said

    Erm, the people at Rutgers seem to think Valter played both the outfield and 1st base; they list his positions here as:
    2000: 1B/OF
    2001: 1B
    2002: OF

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