When the 2023 minor league baseball season began, Sammy Stafura was still a senior at Panas High School in Cortland Manor, New York. After a big senior season the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 2nd round of the draft in mid-July.

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After being drafted and signing, the Reds sent Sammy Stafura to Goodyear where he joined the Arizona Complex League Reds. In his professional debut he went 1-4 with a double, two runs scored, and an RBI. Things didn’t build much from there as over the next four weeks he played in 11 more games and had hits in just two of them, finishing the season going 3-42 with 23 strikeouts and eight walks. All three of his hits were extra-base hits, hitting two doubles and a home run.

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Sammy Stafura Scouting Report

Position: Shortstop | B/T: R/R

Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 188 lbs. | Acquired: 2nd round (2023 Draft) | Born: November 15, 2004

Hitting | He has a fringe-average hit tool.

Power | He has average power potential.

Speed | He has plus speed.

Defense |  He has above-average defense.

Arm | He has a slightly above-average arm.

To say that it was a tough introduction to professional baseball would be an understatement. While the sample size was small, Sammy Stafura had three hits in 13 games played and he struck out 43% of the time he stepped to the plate. Things simply did not go his way in his first taste of affiliated baseball.

A player having some struggles out of high school that’s coming from a cold-weather state isn’t too surprising. Stafura isn’t the first and he most certainly won’t be the last guy to deal with that one.

While there’s going to need to be plenty of improvements over what he showed in his debut, Stafura’s got the tools and athleticism you want to see. He’s strong, but also explosive. One thing worth noting is that in high school the reports noted just how often he went the other way. That held up in limited pro ball, too. Generally speaking, guys who do that tend to struggle to reach their power potential without changing how often they pull the ball. Both the hit tool and the power tool have potential, though there may need to be a little trade off for the hit to get to all of the power or a sacrifice of some power to get to all of the hit. But none of that will matter if Stafura doesn’t make far more contact than he showed in his debut.

Defensively he’s played some center in the past, but the expectation is that he can remain at shortstop where he’s got good range and reactions to go along with good glove work. His arm doesn’t stick out at shortstop, but it’s strong enough for the position long term.

Sammy Stafura Spray Chart

Interesting Stat on Sammy Stafura

He had one extra-base hit to each position in the outfield.

27 Responses

  1. Pete

    This may prove that Nick Krall is human after all. He’s had very few misses that I’m aware of since taking the reins.

      • Pete

        No kidding? I guess that’s either the benefit or dilemma being the boss. Too much credit or too much blame. I just remember the farm system was so horrible that it couldn’t even follow it before he came on board. Maybe it’s just all happenstance?

      • Optimist

        Serious Q – does it vary by organization? Scouting director? Scouting group consensus? Other front office staff? Analytics group? Ownership?

        Who has what role in making the decisions?

        Is there a general pattern?

      • Doug Gray

        The amateur scouting director. He’s the guy making the calls. He’s probably seen all of the 1st/2nd round guys over the years at various events/games. But he’s also relying on his area scouts and crosscheckers, too. The decision is going to be his, but no one guy can possibly see everyone. There’s just not enough time to do that. That’s why you’ve got 25 scouts or whatever. Guys cover a few states each, and if they see someone that they believe is a 1st/2nd/3rd round type, the crosschecker will come out and get some looks, too, and verify what the other person was seeing. At this point analytics matter, too – at least to a point. And for the top high school guys, you’re getting years of it, probably, from national events. For just about every college kid you’re getting a season of Trackman data (very few schools don’t have it at this point, and it’s almost impossible to find a player who isn’t playing anywhere all season that doesn’t have it in some stadium they wind up in). There’s going to be things that the analytics guys are going to point out as red flags, perhaps. And things they’ll point at as “good markers”. Lots of data points, from the analytics to the scouting reports, to the make up, and even the financials. But at the end of the day, it’s the scouting director that’s going to be tasked with making the call. And really, that’s not changing in any organization.

      • Optimist

        Excellent – thanks Doug – put that answer on a macro, I’m sure others will wonder about it, and I’ll probably forget it before this season’s draft.

      • Melvin

        You know what Marge said, “I don’t know why we need scouts. All they do is go watch baseball games”. :D

    • steve

      I dont think a 2nd round pick should ever be considered as a miss by the front office or be labeled a bust as a player. The odds of those guys just making an mlb roster is only around 50%.

      • Pete

        That’s exactly why I used the word “may” instead of “is” or “will”. Point being that in the last couple years the Reds have really been hitting on a lot of their picks. Some obviously are too early to say but so far they look mighty good by my measure.

  2. SHOW OPS

    More than a little early to call this a miss. Small sample as noted, he just turned 19, and he apparently is a hard worker. He would be going into his freshman year of college ball. Check back in 2-3 years.

  3. PTBNL

    Oh my goodness. The kid is a HS student from a cold weather state. Give him at least a few months before labeling him like this. WOW.

    • DaveCT

      Touché.

      He may not even start the 24 season in Lo-A. In fact, I’d bet he starts in the Rookie ACL.

      At 19, he’s many miles away from being a ML candidate.

    • Little Earl

      Doug obviously doesn’t think he is a bust. He has them ranked higher than other Reds second round picks Logan Tanner, Justin Boyd (assuming), Chrisian Roa, Jackson Miller, and 1 slot above Lyon Richardson. 3 people above him are Hines, Abbott and Gray. Prior to them was Fairchild, Okey, Santillan, Rainey, Sparks, Franklin.

      • Optimist

        Lots of good replies in this thread, and Little Earl may have hit the bullseye – looking at this, perhaps Fairchild is a good representative 2nd round pick. Several seasons in MLB, in the perfect situation possibly a few years as a regular, maybe a 85-95 OPS. Not considering those lost to injury in MiLB, that’s likely an above average 2nd rd. career line. So many don’t even get to MLB after 3-5 years in MiLB.

    • DaveCT

      From his pre-draft scouting report just 6 months ago, corroborating much of what Doug writes here:

      “He’s a high-contact hitter with a compact, explosive swing and a two-hand finish. He has posted big numbers this spring, albeit in a small home field at his high school that’s especially hitter-friendly from center field over to right. …

      Added strength and a swing path with more lift than it had last summer has helped Stafura produce more power, with a chance to be a 20-25 home run hitter.”

      It adds that he’s been a strong offensive performer on the summer circuits but was getting beat on the inside part of the plate. It doesn’t say what kind of performance he’s had with wood bats.

      To quote one of my favorite bands, “God, what a mess, on the ladder to success, you take one step and miss the whole first rung”

      Bad start, yes. Draft bust, no.

      Some assembly required.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    When Stafura was drafted in July the scouting reports said that he was a potential five-tool player. Now, I see there is a report showing he just has a fringe-average hit tool and the most of tools are average so I think the things are in contrast to how they were originally shown

    • DaveCT

      It’s interesting, though not unheard of, when scouting reports seem to react quickly to an issue such as Stafura’s (hitting) debut

      One factor might be the late date of the draft. Stafura didn’t debut until July 27th. So perhaps the layoff effected things. But there are so many things, ie adjusting to 110 degree heat, wood bats, more advanced competition, that it’s almost like it best to just give the kid a mulligan and see how he adjusts. For reference, again BA:

      From June, 23.

      BA Grade: 55/Extreme

      Tools: Hit: 50. Power: 50. Run: 60. Field: 55. Arm: 50.

  5. DaveCT

    While on todays topic and comments re: scouting, I thought BA’ and JJ Cooper’s take on Cam Collier was pretty harsh. It began mid summer with the observation Collier was hitting the ball on the ground at a high rate. Then it continued into the Fall player rankings.

    But with Doug’s recent (and really great) article on exit velo’s, Collier leaped off the page and I’d wager perception of him shifted, at least more back to center. It’s hard to view Collier as a breakout candidate, being a high profile draftee, but I’d also wager he goes home, utilizes the considerable resources available to him and comes back with a vengeance.

    • Optimist

      Good points DaveCT, but any draft pick/international FA teenager is a break out candidate. 1 stellar year and your on the high speed escalator. Even a 1/2 season if you remedy identified issues – which seems to be what Collier is looking at. Otherwise, match last season’s numbers while working on the next issue. Almost any 22 yr. old MLB player is a star by definition.

      • DaveCT

        You know, that is a great, great point, given they have already accomplished all they will at the amateur level. The initial pro seasons are exactly that, initial. Beginning. Opening. So careers are a breakout away from that escalator. I believe Doug has argued that any pro player, by definition, cannot be a flop. They’ve become professional. Certainly the higher profile ones.

    • DaveCT

      One thing to remember was that the 23 draft was one of the deepest drafts in memory, given the disruption of the 2020 draft and impact on the first year draft eligible in particular. Rated 33 overall, drafted at 43 and signed over slot, in a deep draft.

  6. Old Big Ed

    There isn’t any way to sugar-coat going 3-42 with 23 strikeouts, so we pretty much have to chalk it up to being 18 and playing in the desert off a long layoff from high school ball in upstate New York.

    The Complex leagues started on June 5 last year. I suppose that there is a reason for starting in early June, instead of six weeks earlier, but I would like to hear it. May can still be halfway plausible weather for games in Arizona, but that isn’t true after about Memorial Day. (Stafura started playing on July 27, and only once played games on consecutive days.)

    • TYG

      Living very close to Cortland Manor, NY, high school graduation was around June 1. If he were to have reported by June 5, it would have been days after graduation, prom, etc… What were you doing a week after prom? As a high-schooler from the Northeast, it would take some time before reporting, acclimating and instruction before debuting in games.