Brady House, 3B, Winder-Barrow HS (GA)
Hit: 40/50 Power: 60/70 Run: 35/40 Field: 45/55 Arm: 65/70 Overall: 60
From 1997-98, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend a great deal of time around Barry Bonds. When asked about that time in my life, two things always stand out about Bonds. First, his baseball intelligence was off the chart. Anyone willing to stop talking and just listen, I mean really listen, could learn more about the game in one hour than most learn in their entire lives. The other thing that stood out, was just how physically imposing the man was. Keep in mind, this was pre-HGH (which took the effect to an entirely new level of ridiculous). Back then, Bonds was 6’2” and around 220. That is not tall or hefty by MLB standards at all. Yet, as I watched him with his teammates, and even more laughably, young, still developing prospects, one could not help but be acutely aware of just how large Bonds seemed compared to everyone around him. He made grown men look like teens and those teenage and twenty-year-olds who were at camp looked like adolescents. He always just seemed bigger than he actually was. Brady house is one of those guys.
One of the first things that nearly any scout keys in on with House is the young man’s physique. Almost unanimously, the comps come back to House have the same build and proportions as Nolan Arenado. He has broad shoulders, long arms, and a thick, dense, muscular lower half, while keeping a lean torso. That sort of build is the sort scouts drool over and project big dreams onto. Except for House, it doesn’t stop there. Let’s stick with the very apt Arenado comp for a moment. Nolan Arenado is a 6’2” 210 pound brick house of a player. Brady House has all the proportions of Arenado’s impressive size, but is already a larger physical specimen. Oh yeah, and House still might grow some more. That’s right, at only 17 years of age, House is already an imposing 6’3” and 215 pounds. And he looks every last inch of it. House is still a boy, but he is housed in the body of a mature, grown man. It is not outside the realm of possibility that House might debut at 6’4” 225 and still not be old enough to by a beer. No offense to Kumar Rocker, but Brady House is the most physically superior prospect in the entire draft.
There is far more to House than just his size though. In essence, he is the exact opposite of Jackson Jobe. Jobe is a draft-worth shortstop with plus tools whose pitching is so next-level that the only thing being focused on with Jobe is his future as a pitcher. Brady House goes the other direction. He has the tools to be a draft-worthy pitcher, but no one particularly cares. His position player talents are just so undeniable that there is precious little reason to waste time scouting him as a potential pitcher. The fastest and most productive path to the top levels of play for House is to stay in the field and to crush baseballs a country mile.
At the Plate
House uses a slightly open stance holding his hands high, keeping his back elbow in a high, driving position. His knee bend is relatively slight. He isn’t quite batting from a full stand-straight stance, but he comes close. House is an aggressive hitter who shifts his weight out in front early after a slight toe-tap. He follows through with a short back foot drag. As little as a year ago, there were still many scouts who felt that House had too much swing-and-miss in his swing. He especially had a hard time identifying off-speed pitches, which resulted in inconsistent landing of his front foot, leading him to either chase or simply to get entirely out of sync in his swing. That step problem has been mostly cleared up, hinting at better regular pitch recognition. More notably, it has helped to clean up both his swing and his load. He stays in sync better now and gets the bat through the zone to meet both fastballs and breaking pitches out in front of the plate. Even when he is not launching moon shots, the ball makes that sound coming off his bat. Not long ago, many evaluators had House with a 40-grade bat. Thanks to his many improvements, most have adjusted that score up. Some count him as high as a potential 60. Given his size and aggressive approach though, a 50-55 grade feels more realistic.
Among the changes House made is that he has stopped trying to pull so many pitches. This has helped him immeasurably. He has sacrificed some torque for better bat control and plate coverage. Even “sacrificing power”, House has plenty of pop left in the bat to take the ball out of the yard opposite field. This sort of advanced recognition is usually the sort of thing developed in the early or middle years in the minors. House is already on top of it.
House’s hitting mechanics are clean (and indeed still improving on that front) and consistent. He understands the strike zone and is willing to take the walks that invariably come his way.He has excellent barrel control, getting the sweet spot to the ball with regularity and bat speed aplenty to catch up to heat in the upper sections of the zone. The strong vertical coverage, combined with House’s raw power make him the best prep bat in the draft, and arguably, simply the best bat in the draft - period.
Still though, he’s only 17 and far from a finished product. Due in part to his size and also in part to the fact that he is simply always going to be hitting for the fences, he can get a bit long in the swing, especially when he is pressing against two strikes. He has more trouble with sliders than he does curveballs, but this is the sort of thing to be expected. The only way for him to improve there is to start facing a higher caliber of pitching than he currently is.
Power is Brady House’s calling card. He doesn’t just have wall-clearing power, he has what some call crazy-stupid power. Let’s dig into his silly power a bit. One of the big ways that talent scouts evaluate raw power is by how well hitters take the ball off a tee. This allows the scouts to evaluate swing plane, record max barrel speeds, and get true exit velocities, unaided by power being provided by pitchers. All hitters get the same starting baseline, with no variation.
Here’s how House’s raw scores play out versus the average for his age/talent group:
Max barrel velocity: 78 mph/ 65 mph/ 98th percentile
Exit velocity off tee: 98 mph/ 81 mph/ 99.9th percentile
Folks, these are Giancarlo Stanton type raw power numbers. In a recent WWBA wood bat event, he hit an exit velocity of 108 mph. Remember, this is an unpolished 17-year-old, with room to grow both technically and physically. As noted in the hitting section above, House has enough power that he can safely sacrifice some of his power in order to increase bat control and contact rates. Even when he does that, he is still going to clear fences going the opposite direction.
Due in part to his size and build, continued comparisons to Nolan Arenado are to be expected, even if they are not quite on track with projected future production. In this case, there is something to be said for the comp though. House has a similar vertical bat angle to Arenado, with fantastic hip extension at contact, possibly the best in the class. This allows House to considerable leg and torso strength to add power into his hips and then through the ball. This is part of why House does not need to focus so mightily on tapping into that torque power. As long as he stays healthy, that powerful core is going to do a lot of the work for him.
While House starts with his hands high in his hitting stance, they do not drift as he drops and loads them into his swing. Everything about House’s swing plays into House maintaining a power stroke. He doesn’t often over swing in an attempt to tap into his raw power, but when he does, if he makes contact, he is sending the ball to distances many Major Leaguers don’t ever reach. A commonly cited example of House’s prodigious power on display goes back to when he was only 15. Playing for Team USA in the U-15 Baseball World Cup. I’ll just park the video here:
For those wondering, that came out to an estimated 450 feet.
House is the rare hitting prospect with 35+ HR power that doesn’t need to sell out to reach that level of production.
In the Field
Currently, Brady House plays shortstop. That is where he has been playing while he has been scouted and is responsible for many of the grade evaluations of his defensive ability. As a shortstop, House has the arm, instincts, and athleticism to stick at the position as an average defender. More recently though, reality has settled in with talent evaluators mostly agreeing that House’s future is at third base. House’s big frame and his lack of explosive speed simply work too heavily against House for him to project to stay there long term. This is likely a blessing in disguise. As a shortstop, House’s ceiling is defensively average. As a third baseman, his ceiling is defensively above average. For once, there is not a Nolan Arenado comp for House, as he does not have that sort of range. However, he comes in on the ball as well as anyone, and is very gifted with making the bare-hand then fire play on the run. He has soft enough hands to handle the hot shots down the line, and he possesses enough of an arm to make accurate throws from deep at the position.
Remember how I mentioned that, if not for his prodigious hit tools, Brady House would still be scouted as a pitcher? He still pitches. His fastball rests at 97 mph. He has triple-digit reach back. With that sort of gas, it should be no surprise that House grades with a 65 arm. He throws from a 3⁄4 arm slot and gets the ball across the diamond over 92 mph. His throws feature plenty of carry and are accurate to first. Due to arm angle, his throws do feature a slight bit of tail, something that shows up much more when he makes throws from the outfield, such as when trying to throw from right to home plate. Even with this, his arm plays anywhere on the diamond and is a plus weapon at third.
Here is the weakness in Brady House’s game. House is a fringe-average runner at his best. His 60-yard dash has been clocked between 7.05 - 7.15 seconds. This rates as average. His home-to-first time averages 4.54 seconds. This is a below average time. House does not have an explosive first step and take time to get up to speed. Once he gets moving though, he moves rather well. He is not a lumbering base path clogger, but he isn’t going to be stealing any bases either. He is athletic enough to take the extra bases when they are available, but he isn’t going to motor well enough to leg out an infield hit. The one thing working in House’s favour is his extreme athleticism. This should serve him well to keep him from becoming one of those painful to watch base path cloggers as he matures.
Brady House is pretty much everything a team could ask for in a future franchise third baseman. He has the glove and arm to stick, along with the traditional, heart of the order power bat associated with the position.
If the draft were being held on the more traditional date in the first week of June, Brady House would be one of those rare 17-year-old draftees. In many drafts, House would be an easy top-three talent. He projects to be a franchise cornerstone as a thumping, defensively capable third baseman. House possesses home run power to all fields and does not need to rely on high torque to tap into it during games. This will help him with his hit tool as he ascends through the minors. Regular reps should help him with identifying off-speed pitching, helping him to take yet more walks, something he is already doing well. While strikeouts will be part of his game, he should hit for decent average and plus-plus power with a high OBP.
House’s availability at #6 is likely to come down to what the Baltimore Orioles do with the #5 pick. Most reports are that the Orioles are focused on taking an impact bat with the pick. If this turns out to be the case, chances are, House is going to be their pick, leaving the Diamondbacks looking at the very real possibility of seeing Kumar Rocker drop to them at #6.
Brady House is a physically imposing specimen of a young man who should see his future as a heart-of-the-order hitting third baseman. Age and advanced hitting could have him in the majors before his 21st birthday.
Chance he is available at #6: 50%
Chance Arizona takes House if he is still on the board: 70%
Up next: Kumar Rocker, P, Vanderbilt