Name: Jake McCarthy
DOB: 7/30/1997 (Age 21)
Acquired: Competitive Balance Round A, 2018 MLB Draft
Position: Center Fielder
Most Notable Tool: Speed
Season Stats: 58 G, 253 PA, .288/.375/.443, 17 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 34 R, 23/41 BB/K, 21/29 SB, 132 wRC+
2018 Season Summary: McCarthy was projected to be a top 20 pick until a wrist injury caused him to slip to the 39th pick to the Diamondbacks. After keeping him in Arizona for a week to make sure the wrist was healthy, they sent him to Hillsboro where he showed off solid average, power, and speed skills. While his power didn’t show up in the form of home runs, he put up an XBH rate of 9.5% in Hillsboro.
Tools: Hit 45/60, Power 40/55, Speed 60, Defense 45/60
In his debut season, McCarthy showed a potential high BABIP skill with a .341 mark in his 241 PA sample at Hillsboro. On top of that, McCarthy drew walks at a 9% clip while limiting his strikeouts to just 16%. The combination of a high BABIP skill and walks should allow for him to post strong OBP marks and allow for a lot of opportunities for him to use his speed as a weapon. I believe there will be more projectable power in the future as he fills out to 205-210 pounds, the 9.5% XBH is an encouraging sign nonetheless. Defensively he has more than enough range to handle center and likely will get the first crack at establishing himself before Kristian Robinson and Alek Thomas reach the majors. His speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths could yield 30+ SB numbers and be near the top of the MLB leaderboard in runs scored as a future leadoff man.
Upside: McCarthy has the makings for a potential All-Star caliber center fielder and leadoff hitter. As mentioned above, McCarthy has the potential for a high OBP skill which should see him near the top of the leaderboard in stolen bases. While I don’t expect more than 20 HRs a season from McCarthy, playing at Chase Field will allow him to hit a lot of doubles and triples thanks to one of the deepest gaps and center fields in baseball.
Risk: The biggest risk other than injury is simply just not being able to hit his ceiling as a player. One example would be the power tool not improving with more reps in the box, although it’s not a tool he’d need to rely on consistently thanks to great speed. Another is his defense isn’t quite as good in center field, so he’d have to move to a corner although I don’t think that will happen.
Likely 2019 Assignment: I would be surprised if McCarthy isn’t on the fast track to the majors. McCarthy is very advanced a hitter, even for a 3-year college starter. I believe the organization will send him to High A Visalia to challenge him due to the higher jump in pitching talent vs. Full A. There I expect him to continue to produce a high BABIP total while showing marginal increases in power and continuing to polish his CF defense. Even if he can’t repeat his solid 132 wRC+ mark in Hillsboro, although his tool set suggests he can, a good offensive season will put him on the fringe of a Top 100 ranking.
ETA: 2021 Season