June 16, 2017
Guarding The Lines
Waiting for the Thunder
I’m sure I had heard of Courtney Hawkins before the 2012 MLB Draft; he was a fairly high pick in the first round, and I’ve heard of all of those guys weeks or months ahead of time, if not more. But it feels right to say the first time I saw Courtney Hawkins was during the draft telecast on MLB Network, doing a standing backflip on live television. That pretty much summed up Courtney Hawkins at the time of the draft: fun, entertaining, and very athletic. He made a few short cameo stops in the minors after the draft, getting pushed up all the way to a couple weeks in High-A. There were concerns about the hit tool and contact ability, but really no more than your normal prep draftee.
I made the point in my Micker Adolfo Ten Pack report this week that while we always say “don’t scout the stat line,” there are always stat lines that are so extreme as to be telling the full story. Courtney Hawkins, for instance, hit .178 with a 29/160 BB/K ratio in 2013 in High-A, that first full post-draft year in which he reasonably should’ve been in Low-A or even short-season ball. I’m sure somewhere in the annals of baseball history there’s someone who’s been that bad over a full, healthy MiLB season and still turned into a good MLB player, but I cannot think of one off the top of my head.
Zach Mortimer saw Hawkins that summer, and just a month after another BP writer put a 60 OFP on Hawkins—roughly in line with what everyone else had been projecting for him—threw a much-debated 30 grade on the then-still touted prospect, projecting him as an organizational player. Four years later, Mortimer’s report looks prescient: he added bad weight that sapped what was higher-end athleticism, there are still minimal bat-to-ball skills, he still cannot recognize pitches, and the power still exists but the contact ability is so bad that it doesn’t matter. Since 2015, he’s played mostly at the Double-A level, putting up a .626 OPS and striking out a third of the time.