Prior to being drafted in 2010 Mike Kvasnicka was recognized as a solid college hitter who didn’t possess much power but did have the potential to develop a little more power in the future. He didn’t necessarily stand out at any particular position defensively, but his bat was expected to help him progress through the system at a reasonable pace. Unfortunately his develop has progressed painstakingly slow, and while a big part of that has been defense-oriented he also hasn’t provided as much value offensively as was expected up to this point.
Kvasnicka followed up a 2011 campaign in Lexington where he hit .260/.328/.368 with 4 homeruns and 59 RBI’s with a .232/.275/.412 line with 15 homeruns and 53 RBI’s in a repeat season at Lexington. He struggled tremendously out of the gate this season and hit just .118/.170/.190 in April while striking out 29.20% of the time. May was only a little kinder as he had a .229 average while striking out 28.10% of the time. He was able to find his power stroke however, and hit 4 homeruns that month. He had a good two-month stretch in June and July where he hit .272 in June, and .283 in July while slugging 5 homeruns in both months. His strikeout percentage also fell as he only struck out 15.10% of the time in June and 23.80% of the time in July. He only had 6 at-bats in the month of August before going on the disabled list on 08/13/12 for the rest of the season.
Kvasnicka is a switch hitter and was viewed as a stronger hitter when batting right-handed. It appeared that he had abandoned switch-hitting early in his career as he hit exclusively right handed in 2010 and 2011. He went back to switch-hitting this season and while his overall numbers were down he hit about the same from both sides of the plate. He hit for a higher average batting left-handed (.226 VS .235), but had a higher slugging percentage (.460 VS .400) batting right-handed. His struck out more batting left-handed (25%) than he did when batting right-handed (19.40%), but he also had about 160 more at-bats batting left-handed than he did right-handed so the sample size is not equal.
The most disappointing part of Kvasnicka’s season is that he was not able to take a huge step forward offensively in a repeat year at Lexington. The power was nice to see, and hopefully he more closely resembles the player that he was in June and July instead of the one that struggled in April and May. Still you would expect more from a 24-year old in the Sal league.
The biggest question surrounding Kvasnicka prior to being drafted was what position he would play. After two full seasons into his professional career that question still remains unanswered. In college he played in the outfield and also saw time as a backup catcher. Reports on his catching abilities were favorable and his stock rose prior to draft as many scouts thought that he might be able to stick at catcher defensively. When the Astros drafted him in the supplemental round they announced that they envisioned him as a third baseman. After spending most of the 2011 season at the hot corner Kvasnicka asked to change positions back to catcher heading into this season. However, he only played in 26 games at the catcher position, and started 38 games in right field while also occupying the DH role in 24 games. He still appears to be a man without a set position.
Before getting injured Kvasnicka had a two month run that hopefully signaled that he was finally making the necessary adjustments at the plate. He seems likely to start the season in Lancaster next year which may make it harder for fans to gage his performance. His power numbers should increase, but the more telling sign will be if he is able to hit for a higher average or not. What position will he play? Your guess is as good as mine, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he saw a significant amount of time in the DH role based on where he spent time towards the end of this season.