What is it about Kemp that does not impress baseball people? I first noticed Kemp when I started tracking the kids again in 2004 and his numbers intrigued me enough to keep an eye on him. In 2005 he had an excellent minor league season and while all the talk was about the Jacksonville 5, he was the one I was keeping my eye on but I noticed he wasn't getting much love from the prospect hounds. I was lucky enough to go to the 2005 AFL season and the Dodger team was loaded. That team had La Roche, Loney, Abreu, and Kemp. For good measure it also had Ethier who was playing for the A's at the time. I followed the team for a week and in that week, Kemp was the most impressive player I saw on the team. During batting practice I'd watch him hit ball after ball out of the stadium. Since attendance at these games consisted of scouts, rotisserie people(raised my hand), collectible hounds, and about 50 local fans it was easy to talk to scouts. No one was talking about Kemp like he was the stud that he appeared to be. Kept hearing "4th outfielder on a good team" or "starting outfielder on a bad team" types of appraisals. He was young for the AFL as most of these guys had at least played AA but from what I saw he was part of the cream of the crop. Later that week I'd attend an HQ symposium as we try to get our rotisserie edges and rarely was Kemp brought up as someone to keep an eye on. I started to doubt the optimistic opinion I'd formed and figured the Scouts must know something I didn't. When he arrived way a head of schedule last summer and crushed 7 home runs in < 50 ab's I was giddy with delight. After that he struggled but that didn't bother me, he was after all only 21 years old. A year later and he's our best hitter when he's allowed to grace the lineup. Most Dodger fans seem to be much more smitten with the Bison then baseball in general. Not since Raul Mondesi have we seen a player who could combine power, speed, and a gun for an arm that was home grown. I have a feeling that if the Bison was playing in Boston or NYY, ESPN would be doing weekly features on him. My season seats are in the loge right above the Dodger bullpen and while I've had the seats since 2004 I've never seen a home run reach the loge until last month when Kemp did it. I missed that game but I know going forward that I'll have a few more chances as I expect he'll reach the loge a few more times.
I only bring this up because during Will Carrol's BP chat today he was asked about Kemp and he said he was "Unimpressed". Unimpressed!!! He then later backtracked and said he felt Kemp was pretty good and that he is probably somewhere between a 730 and 1000 OPS player. Talk about going out on a limb. I'm looking around major league rosters trying to find players who combine all his skills at his age and I see guys like Delmon Young who for years has been rated one of the best prospects in baseball. It would not surprise me in the least if Matt Kemp has a better career then Delmon Young even though he's never been talked about like he belongs in the same room as Delmon.