Vitek is yet another draftee from the exceptional 2010 draft class. The Sox’ first pick, and twentieth overall, Vitek enjoyed a terrific career at Ball State, where he dominated competition during his sophomore and junior year before entering the draft class and subsequently joining the Red Sox organization. His college career was very well-decorated; during his sophomore year he posted an OPS of 1.201 and followed it up his junior year with a 1.136 mark (for comparison’s sake, Adrian Gonzalez’ 2011 season is at 1.026 through June 27) while winning the Mid-Atlantic Conference’s Player of the Year award and placing on the first team all-MAC. Between 440 at-bats over the two seasons, Vitek hit 30 home runs with 82 total extra-base hits.
Despite the terrific power numbers, Vitek’s calling card as a draftee was his advanced plate approach, not unlike Kevin Youkilis or Dustin Pedroia. However, this may be where Vitek has really struggled most as a professional to this point; while at Ball State, he had a nearly even walk-to-strikeout ratio, and struck out just 70 times between his sophomore and junior season. Although Ball State’s competition isn’t at the same level as minor league baseball, the jump in strikeouts has been unexpected; in 204 at-bats in Lowell last season, Vitek struck out 61 times, a trend continued this year with an aggressive approach to high-A Salem, where Vitek has been rung up 60 times in 266 at-bats.
There is certainly cause for optimism. While Vitek has had some struggles in the field, with 19 errors to this point, as well as the documented strikeout problems, he’s still hitting at a .270 clip despite making a huge organizational jump this season, essentially bypassing low-A Greenville for Salem. April saw him post a .341 batting average, and while he hit a major slump in May and early June, there’s definitely the possibility he’s turning a corner; he’s had 5 multi-hit games over his last 7 appearances, and he hit his first home run of the season this past week. He’s shown his fair share of flashes of brilliance so far this year, and as he continues to cope with higher levels of pitching, we’re expecting to see the offensive prowess he boasted coming out of college continue to emerge at the professional level.