Player: Cole Tucker
Drafted by: Pittsburgh Pirates
DOB: 7/3/1996 (Age: 17)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 165 pounds
School: Mountain Pointe (Arizona) HS
College Commitment: Arizona
A staple of the showcase circuit, Cole Tucker has been on the draft radar for a long time. He's been a part of the Team USA 18-and-under squad, participated in the Area Code Games and led Mountain Pointe in the National High School Invitational.
What's so interesting about him is that his draft stock has never wavered, despite being under the microscope so many times where the slightest misstep could change things. He's never been thought of as the best player at his position, but he shows more than enough whenever he steps on the field to be a standout.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Tucker has good swings from both sides of the plate, though like most switch-hitters the left side is his stronger side; he is quicker and more direct on that side, utilizing above-average bat speed to offset some timing issues attributed to a toe-tap load; starts his hands high from both sides but has more of a load from the right side by bringing his hands down and then back, which could lead to problems against velocity.
Has the frame to add more muscle, but it's not going to help his power that much; flat swing through the zone, so despite being able to line the ball to all fields with good bat speed, there's not much over-the-fence pop to come; more of a contact guy who lets his legs do most of the work.
Plate Discipline: 35/45
There's a lot of movement for Tucker before he commits to swinging that makes contact an issue at times; bat speed helps mask that problem right now, but it's not going to work against professional pitchers; needs to tone down his aggressiveness, as he wants to swing away at anything close.
Tucker is a plus runner right now who is going to lose a step when his frame fills out; hurts his future defensive projection since that will hurt his range, but it's not like he will be a slug out there; has the smarts and speed to be a threat on the bases and make all the plays necessary to handle shortstop.
Even though his range will decrease slightly, he's such a smart, instinctive player in the field that he will make up for it; has excellent hands, scooping up anything in his general vicinity, and the footwork to make easy turns deep in the hole or on the double play.
Tucker's arm strength is pedestrian by shortstop standards, but he's so quick to get the ball out of his glove that it plays perfectly for the position; one of the more accurate throwers in this class, being able to place the ball even when he's off balance or moving away from the bag.
MLB Player Comparison: Alexei Ramirez
What makes Alexei Ramirez so unique is the same thing that will make Tucker successful: instincts. Ramirez wasn't highly touted as a shortstop coming through the minors with just above-average arm strength and some range issues, but he's learned to play the position by reading the hitter. Tucker isn't the most gifted player, but his understanding of the game and ability to put himself in spots to succeed are second to none.
Projection: Average regular on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 80 percent
There are reasons to believe Tucker won't stay at shortstop, especially if he gets bigger and the speed decreases, but a team that drafts him will no doubt keep him there until it has a reason not to. He has all the tools to command a significant signing bonus, and teams are always looking to add middle infielders that it would be an upset if he made it to Arizona next year.