Player: Evan Skoug
Drafted by: Washington Nationals
DOB: 10/21/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 5'11", 195 lbs
School: Libertyville (Illinois) HS
College Commitment: TCU
Teams are reluctant to draft high school catchers because the demands of the position make the development timeline even longer than normal for such young players. There's also no guarantee that they will stick behind the plate, putting more pressure on the bat to perform.
In the case of Evan Skoug, there's value beyond what you get as a defensive player because he's proven to have plenty of upside with the bat. He put on a show at the World Wood Bat Association Championships last year, hitting balls over the wall with ease in batting practice.
Playing high school baseball in the Midwest can make it difficult to be scouted, which is why those showcase tournaments were important for Skoug. He made a name for himself last year and has continued to show off the skills needed to be a high Day 2 draft pick.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Skoug's hit tool is problematic right now and isn't going to be great as he moves up the professional ladder; lot of length to the swing, starting with a big load to get ready and moving his hands back slightly before moving forward; velocity is going to give him problems, but there's bat speed and barrel control to square up enough pitches to hit well enough for the position.
His load and natural power make it easy to see a scenario where Skoug averages 15-18 homers per season; has massive arms and generates a lot of pop through the wrists and thick lower half, so as long as he's making contact, the homers will come; pull-side power, so pitchers can attack Skoug off the plate to get him out.
Plate Discipline: 40/50
Skoug's approach at the plate is solid already; tracks pitches well and isn't afraid to hit off-speed stuff; strikeouts are going to be a product of the swing more than problems reading the ball; smart hitter capable of putting himself in good counts to hit what he wants.
Like most catchers, Skoug isn't going to win any running competitions; well-below-average runner who will be a station-to-station player on base, but that's normal for a player his size and at his position.
The biggest reason Skoug isn't projected to be a first-round pick is his defense behind the plate; has average arm strength and tends to get long releasing the ball to second base; locking and footwork are still raw to the bone and require a lot of development; not incredibly athletic, so the agility isn't going to be there. It will take work to make him even adequate behind the plate.
Skoug's arm strength isn't ideal for behind the plate; good enough to make throws to any base but will be beaten by above-average-or-better baserunners unless his pitchers are really quick to the plate; doesn't get rid of the ball quickly, compounding his arm issues.
MLB Player Comparison: Wilson Ramos
It's hard for an offensive-minded catcher to stick in the big leagues, as so much of the position demands that you play at least average defense. If you can hit, teams will find a spot for you. Skoug has so much potential with the bat that teams are going to find a spot for him.
Wilson Ramos is that kind of player in Washington. He's no one's definition of a good defensive catcher, but his ability to hit 15-plus homers per season with good averages is the ceiling for Skoug.
Projection: Average catcher on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 65%
Even though his talent doesn't suggest a first-round selection, Skoug's draft stock is going to be fascinating. He's a rare breed of high school catcher with legitimate raw power that translates to professional baseball. Teams will go above and beyond for that kind of player, especially as a catcher, but playing at TCU for three years would give him a great forum to enhance his value for 2017.