The third player of the series of potential under-slot picks at 7 includes Kentucky 1B Evan White. Don’t let the 1B position fool you, he’s a very athletic player with plus running speed and a quality arm. He’s also one of those rare players who throws left-handed and bats right-handed. Despite playing 1B, there might not be enough power in his bat to justify playing him at an offense-first position, so a move to the outfield might be what happens with him.
Hit: White shows the ability to drive the ball to the gaps. He strikes me more as a top of the order than middle of the order due to the lack of strong and consistent pop in his bat. He’s capable of putting up high OBP numbers and using his plus speed to stretch out extra bases on balls in the gap. My biggest concern in this area is he’ll develop into a WW (won’t walk) due to low walk rates in college. Grade: 50/55
Power: This is the one area of concern for White. You’d like to see more pop from the bat, with a career ISO of .169 that’s not enough. That number has been trending positively with a .262 clip in his junior season. White still has room to add muscle to his frame, so I do project more power as he grows to about 210-215. His junior season had 24 doubles and 9 home runs, so with more raw strength some of those doubles turn into doubles in the pros. Grade: 45/55
Speed: Despite playing a position where your prototypical player is a slow-lumbering behemoth, White runs extremely well for a 1B. His college coach stated that White has enough run speed to handle center field if necessary, although he’s probably going to stick to 1B if the bat is good enough. White is a potential 15 homer, 25 steal threat in the majors if he can hone his baserunning instincts to go with his plus speed. Grade: 60/60
Defense: It really depends on where you play him, but for this exercise, I will list both 1B and the corner OF. At 1st base his plus running speed and quick-twitch ability makes for a superior defender at a non-premium position. I haven’t seen his ability to scoop balls in the dirt, but behind a left-handed thrower gives him an advantage. In the outfield, he has enough speed to handle a corner spot, but playing 1B in his college career he would need extra time to develop the proper route-running instinct on fly balls not hit directly at him. 1B: 60/70, OF: 40/50
Evan White has similar upside to Pavin Smith from Virginia, although with a smaller floor. White’s bat will determine if he can stick at 1B and there are certainly questions if there is enough power and bat for him to stick there. He projects more as a top of the order hitter due to his batted ball skills and speed. I have concerns about his ability to draw walks, which could limit his ability to get on base when he’s not hitting, but he doesn’t have a big strikeout problem. I’d like to see more power and walks when he hits the pros.