Carlos Correa was the recent first overall pick and while I didn’t see him as an amateur, he showed big time tools in the GCL and again in instructs. His projectable 6’4, 190 pound frame immediately stands out with broad shoulders, tapered torso and long limbs. Correa is an outstanding athlete to coordinate his body to play shortstop, which he does well now with a plus arm, solid footwork and good instincts. He’s an average runner that can be a little slow out of the box and will only slow as he fills out his frame, so Correa seems destined for third base, where he would be easily above average.
The real is how well Correa’s big hitting tools will play in games. After seeing number two overall pick Byron Buxton in Twins instructs and as an amateur, Correa is at about the same juncture polish-wise, although is 9 months younger. Correa is fooled too often by professional pitching, getting off balance and jumpy at the plate. At times, he’ll show a bat wrap that he needs to fix and a couple of singles I’ve seen have come on pitches where he was fooled but bat speed and eye-hand coordination allowed him to get enough of the pitch.
Looking at Correa through the three component of the hitting tool I’ve mentioned in earlier articles still gives him plenty of hope. His tools are top notch, with a good swing, plus bat speed, strength, powerful hips and some loft for potential plus raw power. His bat control is also solid, as his swing is loose, he can make adjustments late in the process and he can hit different sorts of pitches. I’m a little concerned about plate discipline; his plan will improve with experience but he’s off-balance more than he should be and I think he’s having trouble identifying pitches. I’m not convinced hitters get much better at this skill, but Correa is young enough that it’s possible.
Even if he ends up having below-average plate discipline, a likely outcome for Correa is above-average to plus with the bat and the glove and he’s got the physical tools and age to allow some leeway in his development.
Rio Ruiz signed for $1.85 million as a 4th round pick this June and has some loud tools to back it up. While there’ some thickness to his 6’1, 190 pound frame and he’s a fringy runner at best, Ruiz is a solid defender with a feel for the position, a plus arm and a good first step so that should be able to stay at the hot corner. At the plate, Ruiz has some real bat speed from the left side and takes a powerful hack at the ball. He loads his hands high and very deep and actually raises them late in his swing, which he’ll need to tweak at some point.
Ruiz has the bat speed to make a power-based swing work, but at times, Ruiz will come unglued and lose his front side, over-swinging at the ball. In games, he’s surprisingly passive for a guy with a high-effort, pull-conscious swing and seemed to get deep in every count I saw. These issues are present, but mostly fixable things many young players deal with. Ruiz shows feel for his swing by not barring out despite a deep load and he shows the ability to go the opposite way. The upside here is a power lefty bat at third base with at least an average glove and lots of big league teams would take that right now.
Delino DeShields was another first round pick at instructs and the second baseman packs lots of tools into his 5’9, 190 pound body. DeShields is a plus-plus runner and in just one game he flashed this tool frequently. He also showed a direct, simple swing with plus bat speed and surprising strength for his size. It’s still below-average raw power, but he can wear out the gaps and may have more over-the-power juice than many expect. DeShields showed a solid sense of the strike zone and a loose swing with some barrel awareness. He’s a good defender at second base, but at times will lay back and let the ball play him. There’s a long line of speedy, quick-twitch second baseman with good gap power and DeShields shows all the tools and pedigree to be the next in line.
Center fielder Brett Phillips was a player I saw a good bit last season as an amateur, a late-rising, little-known football player from a Tampa-area high school that signed for $300,000 as a 6th round pick. He’s still a little raw with limited baseball experience but his calling card is a loose left-handed swing, football mentality and plus run and throw tools. Phillips can look a little overwhelmed by big velocity at times, but he simply hasn’t seen much advanced pitching. There isn’t much power to his swing right now and there isn’t much projection left in his frame, but there is a ceiling of an everyday leadoff type if Phillips can make strides with the bat.
Telvin Nash is a 6’1, 220 pound right/right first baseman with a noticeably thick lower half, a high setup and a pull conscious approach. While he has some bat speed, Nash is a little stiff and it’s quickly apparent why his career strikeout rate is around 30%. He’s very strong with some violence in the swing to help create big raw power that shows up often in games. Nash is the type of big, strong slugger that can pull a fastball down and away, down the line, but that sort of ability usually doesn’t find it’s way into a big league lineup unless the hitter is a better athlete —an analog for a loose swing with bat control and an ability to change his swing when necessary. After a 44% strikeout rate in Hi-A, Nash has the look of minor league org slugger after some prospect buzz earlier in his career.