There's not a scout alive who doesn't dream of finding the perfect hitting prospect, that one kid who can do it all: hit, run, field, throw, save kittens from burning buildings, etc.
It's a shame that such prospects are so darned rare. It's an even bigger shame that the 2013 MLB draft class really doesn't have a perfect hitting prospect.
The consensus is that San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant is the best position player the draft has to offer, but he's much more of an elite hitter than he is an elite overall prospect. Bryant's good, but he's hardly the next Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez or Mike Trout.
So, we have no choice but to create our own perfect hitting prospect for this year's draft. If we pull parts from all the prospects in the draft class, said perfect prospect would be made of the following.
Bat Speed: Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS (Ga.)
While the experts are clearly in love with Frazier's overall talent, however, there's one tool in particular that makes them swoon.
That would be Frazier's bat speed. It's elite. Better than elite, even.
Even the eternally skeptical Mr. Law can't help but marvel at Frazier's bat speed. His analysis of Frazier contains the following: "Frazier has the best bat speed in the draft, bar none—some of the best ever for a draft prospect, in fact."
You can catch a glimpse of Frazier's bat speed if you scroll to about the 45-second mark in this video:
Blink and you'll miss it.
Why is a quick bat important?
Well, the very phrase "quick bat" is pretty much self-explanatory, but think of Barry Bonds. He may have had the quickest bat speed of any major-league hitter in history, and the advantage it gave him was that he could wait for and, by extension, read pitches for longer than your average hitter.
We want our perfect prospect to be able to do that, but we also want to make sure he knows the strike zone and how to make sure it does not get any bigger.
From Loganville, we need to head to Chapel Hill to pick up our next part.
Plate Discipline: Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina
Law has been projecting North Carolina's Colin Moran to go No. 1 overall to the Houston Astros in his last couple of mock drafts (Insider required).
If he does, the main attraction for the Astros will be twofold. They'll be looking to save some of their allotted bonus money, and they'll also be picking up maybe the most polished hitter the 2013 draft has to offer.
That's Rosenbaum's assessment of Moran, and he's not alone. Baseball America's scouting report (subscription required) of Moran says that he "covers the plate, lays off pitcher's pitches" and that he has "excellent hand-eye coordination."
Moran's terrific plate discipline shows up in his stats. In addition to hitting .348 this past season, Moran walked 60 times in 64 games. That placed him third among Division I hitters.
Combine Moran's keen eye with Frazier's bat speed, and we've got the foundation for a guy who's not going to waste a ton of at-bats. Our guy has the ability to wait for his pitch and put a good swing on it when he gets it.
Now all he needs is an elite ability to make contact. For that, we head to New Mexico.
Hitting: DJ Peterson, 3B/1B, New Mexico
New Mexico's DJ Peterson is likely to be a top-15 pick in the first round, maybe even a top-10 pick. Wherever he ends up, he'll be there because of his profound ability to make contact.
Rosenbaum wrote that Peterson has "superb bat-to-ball" ability, and Baseball America praised him for how he always hits the ball right on the screws.
Once again, the stats confirm the scouting report. Peterson hit .408 this past season with an .807 slugging percentage. His slugging percentage was inflated due to the extreme hitter-friendliness of New Mexico's home park, but it does reflect the regularity with which Peterson makes solid contact.
Even Law, who only has Peterson as the No. 34 prospect on his big board, appreciates Peterson's ability to hit the ball. Law acknowledged (Insider required) that Peterson has a swing that's "geared for contact."
So now we've got a hitter with tremendous bat speed, a tremendous eye at the plate and a tremendous ability to make contact. We basically have Joey Votto, a thought that should put a happy face on anyone who appreciates pure hitting ability (and that's all of us, right?).
To be a complete hitter, all our guy needs now is some serious pop. That means a trip to the nicest place on earth.
Power: Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, San Diego
San Diego's Kris Bryant hit 31 homers this year, which is a lot for a college player. Nobody else hit more than 21.
In fact, Bryant's 31 homers were more than quite a few teams hit all season. He was like Babe Ruth in relation to everyone else back in the day, or everyone else in relation to the Miami Marlins now.
Rosenbaum says that Bryant is the only prospect in this year's draft class with 80 power. Baseball America credits him for his very real light-tower power to left field and his ability to hit 'em over the right-field wall as well.
Fast-forward to about the 2:25 mark in this video and just groove to the sound of the ball coming off Bryant's bat:
We were talking about Barry Bonds a while ago, and that's basically who we have now: a hitter with bat speed, plate discipline, hitting ability and power that all register as elite. Our guy could one day be good enough to make 2012-2013 Miguel Cabrera look like a whimpering puppy dog.
But we have to give our hitter something to discourage managers from just giving him four wide ones every time he steps to the plate. And for that something, we head to Maryland.
Speed: Matt MacPhearson, OF, Riverdale Baptist HS (Md.)
There's no Billy Hamilton in this year's draft class, presumably because there's only one other person alive with Hamilton's speed (he goes by "The Flash").
The 2013 draft does have Matt MacPhearson of Riverdale Baptist High School, however, and he's pretty darn fast in his own right.
Rosenbaum has MacPhearson down as the fastest outfielder in the 2013 draft class, and Baseball America says that MacPhearson is "at least" a 70 runner.
MacPhearson had enough speed to steal 68 bases last season, and BA noted that he's often compared to speed merchants like Ben Revere and Michael Bourn. Not Hamilton's level, but certainly a nice level to be on.
We now have a player who's a complete offensive threat. He'll be a threat to crush the ball every time he steps to the plate and a danger to quickly circle the bases when he's not trotting around them.
What we don't have just yet, however, is a complete overall player. Our guy has to play some defense, too, and for that, we need to go back across the country to California.
Defense: Michael Lorenzen, OF, Cal State Fullerton
The only place for our perfect prospect is one of the three premium defensive positions: catcher, shortstop or center field.
Since I'm of the mindset that the world needs more Ken Griffeys and Mike Trouts, I'm going to exercise my executive powers and make our guy a center fielder. If a team has a good one of those, many runs are going to be saved throughout the course of a season.
Because our guy has plenty of speed to track down fly balls in center field, all he needs are some instincts. He's going to get those from Cal State Fullerton's Michael Lorenzen.
Baseball America describes Lorenzen as an "outstanding defensive center fielder" with "superb instincts." Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com says Lorenzen can "flat out play center field," and Law grants that (Insider required) he's a "heck of a defender."
So now we have a guy who's both an elite hitter and a guy who can track down pretty much anything out in center field, arguably the most important defensive position in baseball. These things alone make him a potential treasure chest of value.
But there's one more thing he needs to make him a dominant force, and that's a gun (the baseball kind, not the other kind).
Our guy is getting his from a kid in Washington.
Arm: Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS (Wash.)
If you're familiar with this year's prospects, you might be thinking that our guy doesn't need an arm if he's already got Lorenzen's defensive toolbox. Lorenzen has one of the strongest arms in the country, after all.
But there's one arm in this year's draft class that's better, and it belongs to Reese McGuire.
From the sound of things, McGuire is on the same level as guys like Ivan Rodriguez and Yadier Molina when it comes to arm strength from behind the plate. Law gave (Insider required) McGuire's arm strength an 80 grade, which translates to "Hall of Fame caliber."
Lest you think that arm strength from the catcher position won't translate to center field, just remember Bryce Harper.
Harper spent most of his time in the crouch before the Washington Nationals drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010, and his arm panned out just fine in the outfield. Harper had eight outfield assists and five Outfield Arm Runs Saved in his rookie season, according to FanGraphs.
With McGuire's arm being the finishing touch, the project is now finished. We've built the perfect 2013 MLB draft hitting prospect, complete with excellent bat speed, a refined approach at the plate, a superior ability to make contact, huge power, blinding speed, an excellent glove and a laser-rocket arm.
The Astros would have no choice but to go for a guy like this with the No. 1 overall pick, give him a huge bonus and put him in their major-league lineup, oh, tomorrow. Then all they would need is a perfect pitching prospect with big-time velocity, pinpoint control, otherworldly off-speed stuff and a tireless arm.
But that's a lab project for another day.
Note: Stats courtesy of NCAA.com unless otherwise noted.
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