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Second baseman Brad Ditter
was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 13th round of the 2003 MLB Draft out of New Mexico State University. After two successful seasons playing with the Vermont Expos in the NY-Penn League, Ditter was promoted to low-A Savannah in 2005 with a career .284 batting average where he served as the Sand Gnats utility player, playing first, second, and third base this past season. Despite playing his last three games of the year with AA-Harrisburg, we'll focus our attention to his time with Savannah for the purposes of this article.
Natural Second Baseman: As mentioned above, Ditter played three different positions for the Sand Gnats in 2005: first base, second base, and third base. Drafted as a second baseman coming out of college, Ditter showed he felt more comfortable at the plate in games in which he played second base. He hit .259 when playing his natural position and just a combined .225 when playing either first base or third base (he did hit .344 when he was the team's designated hitter).
Gruesome Grayson: Grayson Stadium, home of the Savannah Sand Gnats, was a house of horrors for Brad Ditter in 2005. The 25-year old utility infielder hit just .204 at home this past season, but chipped in with an average 99 points higher on the road (.303). His lone home run of the year came on the road and he had ten more runs scored and ten more RBI away from Grayson Stadium.
As a result of getting on base more on the road, Ditter stole 9 of his 11 bases away from home. Such a glaring disparity in his home versus road splits does bear watching in the coming seasons.
Platoon Player? Ditter showed his versatility in the field by being able to play a wide variety of positions. If his splits from 2005 are any indication, it appears Ditter may have to not only serve a platoon role because of multi-dimensional defensive ability, but because of his lack of success against left-handed pitching.
Ditter, a left-handed hitter, mustered only a .150 batting average against southpaws in 2005, albeit in just 60 at-bats. On the flip side, the sweet swinging lefty hit .283 against right-handed pitchers in the South Atlantic League and 26 of his 27 RBI on the year came off of them. Throw in the fact that over 94% of his extra-base hits came off of right-handed pitchers, Ditter's lack of success against lefties could force him into a platoon role.
One Bad Stretch: Brad Ditter hit .260 overall in 2005, but if not for a bad stretch in June, his numbers would have been a lot better. He hit just .194 in 21 games in June (68 points lower than his next lowest monthly average), including an 8-game hitless streak. If you rearrange his numbers to match his next lowest average in any one given month, Ditter would have hit a more respectable .274 on the year.
He began the year hitting .275 in his first 40 games with the Sand Gnats and finished the season hitting .281 in his last 35 games in a Savannah uniform. The one brutal month that saw him go hitless in consecutive games three times, including his 8-game stretch without a hit, cost Ditter in the end.
Bottom-Half Hitter: Brad Ditter hit .250 in his 28 games batting third in the Sand Gnats' lineup, production that would be considered below average from a spot in the lineup where your best hitter should preside. However, Ditter batted a combined .274 hitting anywhere from fifth to eighth in the batting order.
Clutch, But Not Too Clutch: One of the more intriguing numbers from his splits was his lack of production with runners in scoring position, but his above average ability to hit with runners in scoring position and with two outs. Ditter, who hit just .214 overall with runners in scoring position this past season, actually hit .303 with runners in scoring position and with two outs.
Ditter has shown he can hit in the clutch in some of the highest pressure situations a batter could face. But the problem appears that he doesn't show that ability consistently enough.
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"Splitsville" is a series of articles on the Nationals' prospects that we'll be doing throughout their minor league careers. In version one/chapter one (v1.1) of Brad Ditter, we'll look how he did against the right-handed pitchers versus the southpaws, how he hit with runners in scoring position, and more.
Here are the pertinent splits for infielder Brad Ditter with Savannah in 2005.