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Seeing 20/20 For a while, it looked like the rare combination of power and speed was becoming an extinct breed in baseball but last year, nine players reached the 20-homer/20-stolen base plateau last season, the most in 10 years. In addition to the nine from last year that easily have the potential to repeat the feat in 2014, there are a few more young players like Yasiel Puig with the ability who will be getting a full season of at-bats to go 20/20 in ’14. 2013 HR SB Mike Trout (LAA) 27 33 Hunter Pence (SF) 27 22 Carlos Gonzalez (COL) 26 21 Carlos Gomez (MIL) 24 40 Will Venable (SD) 22 22 Coco Crisp (OAK) 22 21 Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 21 27 Shin-Soo Choo (CIN) 21 20 Ian Desmond (WAS) 20 21 star in the making. Last season, McCutchen hit .317 with 21 home runs, 27 stolen bases, 97 runs scored and 84 RBI on his way to his second Silver Slugger Award and third All-Star appearance to go along with his MVP Award and 2012 Gold Glove. Standing 5-10, and weighing 190 pounds, McCutchen has a similar build to Aaron, who hit 44 homers with 31 steals in 1963. Five other times in his career Aaron hit at least 20 homers and stole 20 bases. “Outstanding. Andrew’s one of those guys who has the mental side as well,” says Davis. “He has all the physical tools, but he doesn’t just settle. There’s not one part of his game that overshadows the other parts. “That’s what I took so much pride in, was being diverse in what it was going to take for me to have an opportunity to win this game. McCutchen has that same thought process in that he’s going to do whatever it takes to win this game.” Rob Sidwell was the area scout for the Pirates leading up to that 2005 draft. He heard questions about McCutchen’s talent against the teams in his Florida community. But Sidwell, who is now scouting for the Dodgers, at that time also saw the young outfielder in a showcase the previous summer in Branson, MO. Facing many of the best high school pitchers in the nation, McCutchen’s talent shined through. At the time, McCutchen was not quite 5-10 and weighed under 170 pounds. Yet Sidwell remembered that the young outfielder’s bat was “one of the fastest bats I’ve ever seen.” Though he would later add strength, it was the entire package that made him project great things for McCutchen. “I did tell him and his father one thing,” remembers Sidwell. “Pittsburgh hadn’t had anybody special since Barry Bonds. It might have been a bold statement, but I told him that I felt that he had a chance to be the next guy like that. “He made me look good. I got one right.” Puig made those who signed him for the Dodgers look good in June 2012. After performing in a showcase in Mexico following his defection from his native Cuba, there were those who had some questions. Puig hadn’t played baseball in nearly a year, and though his physical presence was astounding, there were those who questioned if his talent would ever materialize on a baseball field. Logan White, the Dodgers’ vice president of amateur scouting, was an early believer, and he had a great track record for acquiring talent for Los Angeles. Two-time NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw was signed under White’s watch. So was Matt Kemp, a sixth-rounder out of Oklahoma who came within a home run of joining the 40-40 club in 2011 and was the runner-up in the NL MVP race. In Kemp, who was a basketball standout, White saw an athlete who hadn’t played much baseball, but had good hitting mechanics and a clean swing. He saw the same in Puig. White pointed out that it is the hitting tool that determines whether a player realizes that five-tool talent. If they hit, then they can develop power, and the other tools play out in different aspects of the game. White saw athleticism and talent in Puig from that showcase. “He’s one of the most physical athletes that I’ve seen in my career,” says White. “He’s just a tremendous athlete and you could see his hitting mechanics were excellent, and what he has is way, way above-average bat speed. When you combine that with that great athleticism, the fasttwitch muscle fibers, the fact he has really good hitting mechanics and not a lot of flaws. You’d watch how far the ball would go off his bat and see that tremendous bat speed, you’d have a good idea that he could be a really good hitter.” What couldn’t be projected was that it would only take him about Puig VICTOR DECOLONGON/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


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