Previewing Mikie Mahtook
After placing John Jaso on the disabled list, the Rays added another rookie to the roster. Here’s what to expect from Mikie Mahtook.
The Rays’ second first-round selection in the 2011 draft, Mahtook hailed from Louisiana State University and was deemed a good value pick. He’s since developed at a slower than expected pace (he’ll turn 26 in November) but, though he inspires many of the same arguments about his long-term role as he did back then, he could prove worth the wait.
Over the years Mahtook’s build, facial features, and success in the face of perceived awkwardness have led to some Hunter Pence comparisons. While he’s highly unlikely to match Pence’s productivity, he has a well-rounded game that should lend itself to a lengthy big-league stay. Mahtook lacks a true carrying tool, yet his non-hitting tools all grade as better than average, allowing him to play each outfield position.
Don’t mistake Mahtook as an offensive zero, either. He has more raw power than his middling home-run totals throughout the minors suggest, and he seemed to tap into the reservoir more after altering his stride, from a toe tap to a leg kick. The key for Mahtook will be balancing his power with his contact tendencies well enough to keep his strikeout rate in check. Mahtook also receives high marks for his makeup and motor.
The most-likely outcome sees Mahtook settle in as a reserve outfielder, perhaps in the Brandon Guyer mold. Yet if he can find that sweet spot offensively, he could well serve as a second-division starter.