Sara D. Davis
The White Sox broke their tendencies last year and drafted a high-upside high school player. Let's take a closer look at what they have in Courtney Hawkins.
Few 2012 draftees received as much buzz as Courtney Hawkins did, whether it be doing a backflip, impressing scouts, or being promoted to the Carolina League at age 18. After our look at Carlos Sanchez a few days ago, we will highlight another bright spot in the White Sox organization, Courtney Hawkins.
Height: 6'3 Weight: 220 lb.
Bats: R Throws: R
Scouting information via Andrew Krause. You can follow him on Twitter @Krausey13, and check out his blog here.
Like Starling, Hawkins’ body immediately stands out. However, unlike Starling, Hawkins does not need to add and probably should not add more muscle mass at this point in his career. The 18-year-old is listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, which definitely appeared accurate in person. Based on his size and athleticism alone, one can easily project power in Hawkins’ future, and a scout in attendance noted that Hawkins generates plus bat speed with his strong wrists.
While he patrolled center field for Bristol, the scout felt that Hawkins may have to move to a corner outfield spot down the road. I agree and was a little disappointed by his speed, as Hawkins consistently turned in 4.4 and 4.5 seconds on home-to-first splits. He does feature strong arm and looked to make instinctive reads off of the bat, so he should be fine in either outfield position.
At the plate Hawkins struggled a bit throughout the series. The first game he was pitched backwards almost every at-bat, which he clearly was not expecting. He took a couple of ugly swings and did not hit a ball hard. However, he showed some flashes of his potential in the final two games of the series, and he showed the ability to adjust to how pitchers attacked him. After striking out on three straight fastballs in his 1st AB of the second game, he jumped on a first pitch fastball and drove it for a double into the right-center field gap in his second at bat. Similarly, later in the series he put together some good AB and drove a 2-2 slider back up the middle for a hard-hit single.
While I was at first expecting a bit more out of the first-round talent, I learned that it would be foolish to expect too much from a teenager getting his first taste of professional ball. The bottom line is that Hawkins has the physical tool to succeed at the highest level—the ability to make key adjustments and respond to failure will ultimately determine just how far Hawkins will go.
Across three levels, Hawkins struggled to control counts, posting a 56/11 K/BB ratio, which is acceptable from someone who is just 18 years old, but a caution flag nonetheless. On the bright side however, Hawkins was able to hit for more power at the higher levels (albeit in a small sample-size), than he was for Bristol in the Appalachian League. His slugging percentages by ascending level go as follows: .408, .631, .588.
As per Andrew's report, he has the body, the swing, and the stats to show that he has a huge amount of power potential.
Matt Eddy at Baseball America even ranked Hawkins ahead of Bubba Starling, second overall in the Appalachian League (only behind #2 overall pick Byron Buxton). Below is a statistical comparison of their Appalachian League performances.
- Hawkins- 159 PA, .279/.321/.408, 102 wRC+
- Buxton- 87 PA, .286/.368/.429, 125 wRC+
- Starling- 232 PA, .275/.371/.485, 135 wRC+
So while Hawkins may not have performed at the same level that Buxton and Starling did in the Appalachian League, it is still promising that Chicago thought enough of him to promote him for the Carolina League playoffs.
Courtney Hawkins comes with the prototypical right fielder starter kit- a huge arm, big power potential, and too little speed for center. If everything breaks right for him, he could be an All-Star type right fielder, hitting for a lot of power and playing a good right field.