Sorry to Bother You is a new feature that profiles hitters without a position. The scouting community loves raw, athletic, toolsy players that have a chance to stick at positions up the middle while flashing .300 25/25 potential. I love them too. But I also love guys that just rake. More times than not, these players are simply ignored until they hit there way into a big league line-up.
I remember watching the 2017 Future’s Game on television. Rhys Hoskins, whose bat carried him to the game and into top 100 prospects, became one of the main stories of the game. I remember listening to the broadcasters basically make excuses for why he was included. I mean, he doesn’t “ooze athleticism”, he isn’t fast. He is a right handed first baseman with a bat first profile. It was as if guys like Mayo were aplogizing for his inclusion. I’m paraphrasing here but the jist was “This guy just keeps hitting and proving scouts wrong.” He and the others said this in a manner that sounds as if one day the other shoe would drop. Hoskins would be exposed as the non-prospect we think he should be and we can move on. Well, that hasn’t happened.
I’ve spoken to many scouts and evaluators about advanced hitters without a real position while I cover Florida State League (High A) games and they all seem to downplay these players. While I am watching the toolsy kids, the advanced hitter always sticks out. He is already doing something that we are hoping to see from the athlete. Sure, he is slow. His arm is okay. He is a first base profile.
Who cares?!? He rakes!
So, Sorry to Bother You is for those players. They don’t care about your scouting profile, lack of foot speed, positional flexibility, and arm strength. They are here to do one thing….SMASH. So let’s celebrate these guys. They may just hit their way to a big league line-up and into your fantasy squad. Also, I get to write a profile that allows me to not think of different adjectives to describe the ability to “ooze athleticism”.
I want to kick this series off with one of my favorite bat first, thick, burly, power hitting prospects. Bradley Jones of the Toronto Blue Jays. Taken in the 18th round in 2016, Jones has been a hitting machine. He slashed .291/.336/.578 in Rookie ball in 2016. Speaking of speed, he stole 16 bases to go with 16 HR in 61 games. Jones followed up with a more impressive .326/.394/.560 at Lansing in his first taste of full season ball before a promotion to Dunedin and a wrist injury derailed his season.
His physique may not impress people but he is a thick guy. Fangraphs/MiLB/BBref all list him at 6’1 and 180 lbs. I have met this guy. I weigh 185 1lbs. There is no way this guy is 180lbs. He is at least 200-210 lbs. He is thick and stocky with big legs and strong hand. Hailing from South Carolina, you could say he is “country strong.” He looks like the type of guy that goes to the gym in blue jeans and workboots and starts deadlifting 500 lbs.
This season, Jones is back in Dunedin and hitting third for the Jays. Jones has played 1B and 3B primarily but also seen time at 2B. When I saw Jones at 2B, he was passable for a High A game. While I don’t think he has a future as a major league utility guy that plays all over the infield, it is apparent that the Blue Jays are finding creative ways to get his bat in the line-up. He has good balance at the plate and quick hands. He will expand the zone with 2 strikes especially on offspeed. So far in High A, Jones has had a tough time making consistent contact, striking out 13 times in 35 at bats.
However, when Jones makes contact, it is hard. He consistently finds the barrel to all fields. If you are in a deep dynasty league, monitor Jones’ growth closely. His power will play up as he improves his pitch recognition. For now though, let’s enjoy a clip of him pulverizing an 88 mph fastball.
MLB Player comp: Billy Butler
Jason Woodell has written about prospects for numerous sites. He got his start with Prospects1500 and has provided reports on prospects for Baseball Prospectus, 2080 Baseball, and Pinstriped Prospects. Jason is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant and former model in Jordan. He lives in Tampa, likes dogs, craft beer, and his wife…not necessarily in that order.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonAtTheGame.
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