DUNEDIN, Fla. – L.B. Dantzler has been pegged as a power hitter by both scouts and the media, but he hopes to become more of an all-around threat.
The Toronto Blue Jays first-base prospect was named Most Valuable Player of the Northwestern League while winning the Championship with the short-season Low Class-A Vancouver Canadians in 2013 during his first season of pro ball.
Even though he smacked nine home runs and drove in 36 in only 59 games, the 22-year-old suggests that that many evaluators overstate his image as a power hitter.
“I don’t think I hit for as much power as some media outlets suggest,” said Dantzler at the Bobby Mattick Training Centre. “I think of myself as more of a doubles guy, whereas home runs are kind of more like mistakes.”
L.B., which stands for Little Brad, was named after his father, who chose the name over Brad Jr. He explained that even though last year was really successful, there is still room for improvement for himself and his teammates.
“We were told about hitting the ball hard, and not worrying so much about batting average, but more about just playing hard and helping your team,” said Dantzler. “Specifically, I pulled the ball more than I wanted to last year and I’m working on trying to stay on either side of the field.”
One major aspect that the native of Winter Haven, Florida hopes to add to his repertoire is speed as he worked on getting faster during the off-season.
“I joked around with the guys that I want to get a stolen base this year, I haven’t gotten one yet in pro ball,” said Dantzler. “Realistically in a full season my goal would be to hit about 10 – getting to double digits would be really good.
“I’m not going to be a stolen base threat but I think if you have the right timing and choose the best situations, anyone can steal a base. I want to learn more about when to steal and when the pitchers are focused on the hitter.”
First basemen who steal bases are not very common, with players like Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals being among the few exceptions. But Dantzler is hoping to make his own name in the game.
“I can’t really compare myself to any major-league first basemen and it’s not what I am looking to do,” said Dantzler. “There aren’t many who are 5-foot-10 either.”