Can Niko Kavadas find his swing?
Niko Kavadas rose to fame on Red Sox Twitter back in 2022 when the left-handed hitting first baseman mashed his way through Single-A and High-A.
However, the first half of 2023 saw Kavadas struggle to find his footing in Double-A. The second half of 2023 saw more of the same, this time in Triple-A.
Kavadas hit just .206 between the two levels, with 172 strikeouts in 480 plate appearances (35.8% strikeout rate).
Not everything was negative. Kavadas still managed 22 home runs between the two levels. He also walked 98 times, leading to a .377 on-base percentage.
No one is expecting the Notre Dame product to become a .300 hitter. But he doesn't need to, with the power potential and OBP talent that he possesses.
However, a .206 average while striking out 35.8% of the time isn't going to cut it. The .119 average (10-for-84) that Kavadas had against left-handed pitchers especially hurts.
Kavadas can be a great platoon player. He gets on base and can crush right-handed pitching. But there are shortcomings. He isn't a great defender and doesn't have much going on in the speed/athleticism category. So, only being productive against right-handed pitching (and still striking out too much, while not hitting for a high average) won't get Kavadas far.
Can he get back to his mashing ways of 2022? We saw glimpses of it. He doesn't need to be a lefty killer, but if he can hold his own against them while punishing right-handed pitching, that would go a long way. Kavadas should get plenty of PAs in Triple-A in 2024. Can he take advantage of it and prove he can be a nearly everyday bat?
Niko Kavadas might not be the biggest name in the Red Sox system, but he's certainly an imposing presence in the box. When he's got it going at the plate, he's one of the most entertaining prospects to watch as he tries to break scoreboards with mammoth home runs.