$3 million. For a third-round pick. That has never been done before. Yet, that is exactly what a third-round prospect chosen by the San Diego Padres received in the 2019 MLB Draft. His name, of course, is Hudson Head and he has been one of the biggest risers when it comes to recently drafted prospects. He might even be the biggest riser in all of baseball when it comes to his prospect stock. I have frequently seen him go in the late first round of FYP drafts. It’s time to do a deep dive on one of my absolute favorite prospects in the Padres system.
Head comes from a little known high school in Texas called Churchill High School. It’s so unknown that the only high school stats I was able to find were from his sophomore year when he batted .420. It also appears that his varsity team only played 11 games in 2019. The point here is that this is the definition of a “pop-up prospect.” Very few teams were in on Head early and the fact that the Padres were willing to give him that much money shows that they really liked what they saw from him.
His athleticism is likely what teams saw in the lefty as he shows some elite qualities. He clocked a 6.63 60-yard dash time which is bordering on elite foot speed. He also pitched during high school being clocked the mid 80’s, so his arm strength is above-average as well. At 165 pounds with his 6′ 1” frame there is room to add muscle. All together this is one of the best athletes in the 2019 draft and will probably blossom into one of the best athletes in the entire minor leagues after he physically matures. Oh yes, let’s not forget we are talking about an 18-year-old here.
The biggest knock on Head in the draft was that he had never really faced elite competition. Analysts were saying that the pick was a bet on the tools. They wanted to see some stiffer competition. If he would have struggled, then there could have been some people raising eyebrows. However, Head did not struggle and posted a very impressive debut where he slashed .283/.383/.417 with a home run and three stolen bases. And yes, these are not the best stats for a debut, but they do answer the major concerns that Head had. This perhaps explains why he has as much helium as any prospect in the industry the last few months.
His debut also produced seven doubles, something I love to see in my toolsy, young outfielders. To me, there is a lot of Drew Waters here where all you have to do is watch him play and you realize that the power is coming. It might not show up right away but Hudson Head at 25 years old will be something to behold.
I don’t always like to doing scouting reports because ultimately we are a fantasy site and not professional scouts. However, with Head a lot of his value is going to come from acquiring him cheaply from owners that don’t see the full potential. The biggest concerns will be his hit tool and the question of whether or not he will develop power. I am here prove that he will develop power and his hit tool is just fine.
First, the hit tool. Take a look at the photo below:
— MLB Draft Tracker (@MLBDraftTracker) June 4, 2019
This is what is called an arm bar swing. Notice how extended Head’s right arm. Once a batter extends too much on that lead arm, a loss of power is the biggest effect in addition to getting under pitches producing weak contact. However, this also leads to the barrel of the bat staying in the hitting zone much longer and thus a reduction in swing and miss. To me the arm bar will allow him to stay in the zone and produce an above-average hit tool. The reason I believe this is the incredible bat speed that Head shows when watching full videos. It’s impressive, to say the least. This means that Head is able to keep his bat in the hitting zone an extraordinary amount of time while also producing lightening quick bat speed.
The fact that his bat speed is still so elite even with this arm bar swing gives me a lot of hope for power to develop as well. As I mentioned earlier, the arm bar swing often leads to getting underneath the ball and lifting the ball in the air. If he does this while maintaining his impressive bat speed then he will hit his fair share of fly balls and I expect a lot of those to start leaving the yard once he matures. Take a look at this bat speed for a kid that looks like he weighs 145 pounds soaking wet:
Hudson Head swing vs Mid 90’s FB pic.twitter.com/p5IYs5guxK
— PadresPharm® (@Padres_Farm) December 30, 2019
Man, I really love the finish of that swing too. I know it isn’t said as much for hitters as it is for pitchers but having repeatable mechanics on a swing is vital. Every swing I have seen from Head looks identical, regardless of pitch. He is balanced and smooth with astonishing bat speed.
With his foot speed I fully expect some Grady Sizemore-type of seasons in his prime, with the hopes that injuries don’t get in the way. He may lose a bit of speed once he starts putting on some weight so the idea of a 30/30 guy may not happen but I can see him maintaining that beautiful 12-17 steal range and provide value all over the diamond.
What it All Means
I am guilty of one thing that I wish I could change; irrational prospect crushes that may or may not be founded on reason. I thought Austin Beck was the next Mike Trout. I love Hunter Bishop way more than I should. Somehow I still think Kevin Smith is a thing. However, with Hudson Head I think I have some reason behind all the love. I can’t find a negative article or tweet about the kid. I had him #6 in the Padres Top 50 and I think I already want to move him ahead of Luis Campusano to be honest. Perhaps that isn’t too shocking; until I share with you the fact I also currently have Head #71 on my personal top 100.
Head is far from a can’t-miss prospect. He has got to put on weight and there is a chance doing so will mess everything up. However, if he lives up to what I am seeing thus far and he is able to take advantage the Padres excellent player development then Head is going to explode. Get him now while you still can.