I decided to take a small break from the run of shortstops I’ve been on and talk about the long ball and in particular 5 talented ballplayers with big time raw power. Rhys Hoskins (Lakewood Blueclaws, Phillies), Ryan O’Hearn (Lexington Legends, Royals), Roberto Ramos (Asheville Tourists, Rockies) Rafael Devers (Greenville Drive, Red Sox) and KJ Woods (Greensboro Grasshoppers, Marlins) have all shown the ability to hit homeruns to all fields which believe it or not is pretty rare at the low-A level and they’re not just clearing fences they’re hitting apartment buildings across the street.
Rhys Hoskins, (1B) 6’4″ 225 lbs, age 22, Bats and throws Right- Hoskins was drafted by the Phillies in 5th round of the 2014 draft from Cal State Sacramento. Hoskins was my pick for hitter of the year in the SAL in 2015. He isn’t just a masher he’s a very good hitter, he has a long swing, above average bat speed and good barrel control he hits with a slight upper cut and with a 17% strikeout rate makes pretty good contact for a big man. The ball really jumps off of his bat. I watched him take batting practice in Asheville and he hit monster shot after monster shot easily clearing the 380′ wall in CF and LC. Across two levels Hoskins hit .319/.395/.518 for a .199 ISO, he hammers LHP and RHP equally. A look at the batted ball rates shows a 41% Flyball Rate which is outstanding (As a point of reference I looked at Jim Thome, Ryan Howard and Manny Ramirez totals, they started keeping batted ball data in 2002 and with exception of a few outliers all three mostly fell in the 36%-46% flyball rate) obviously the more balls in the air the better for a big man. Keep an eye on Hoskins he’ll be tearing up the Eastern League (Reading Fightin Phils) next season.
Here we get a good look at Hoskins swing courtesy of Baseball Prospectus:
Ryan O’Hearn, (1B) 6’3″ 200 lbs, Age 22, Bats and throws left- O’Hearn was drafted by the Royals in the 8th round of the 2014 draft from Sam Houston St. O’Hearn had a monster first half in Lexington and that was capped off by beating Rhys Hoskins in the final round of the home run derby here in Asheville. At the time of his promotion to Wilmington O’Hearn had a whopping 19 home runs and that was in 81 games with Lexington. He hits with a slight crouch and has a closed stance and he hits with a slight upper cut. Nobody at the single-A level had more raw power than O’Hearn. His ball always carries a little farther than you think it will. A 31% flyball rate is a little on the low side and his strikeouts are a little high but not crazy at 24%. He faired much better vs RHP than LHP so that’s something to keep an eye on. It will be interesting to see if O’Hearn heads straight to Double-A (Northwest Arkansas, Texas League) or if he’s back in Wilmington for a bit more seasoning first.
Here we get a good look at O’Hearn’s swing courtesy of Legends Baseball
Roberto Ramos, (1B) 6’5″ 220 lbs (I’d guess he’s 10-15 lbs heavier than that) age 20, bats left and throws right. Ramos (Pronounced Rahmos) was drafted by the Rockies in the 16th round of the 2014 draft from the College of the Canyons. Of all of the players on this list I think Ramos is the least known but he definitely belongs here. Ramos arrived in Asheville on July 1st after tearing up Grand Junction (Rookie ball) for a couple of weeks. He’s got a long swing and when he connects he can send a ball a long way, he sported a .269 ISO in his 46 games in Asheville. He sprays the ball around he’s got a good approach he’s not just a power guy he can hit too. A 32% flyball rate and 24% strikeout rate both stand out but not too bad. I’m looking forward to seeing what Ramos can do to the California league as he should be up in A+ with the Rockies affiliate the Modesto Nuts next year.
Here we get a good look at Ramos’s swing as he sends a ball out the other way courtesy of MILB
Rafael Devers (3B) Listed 6′ 195 lbs (I’d guess he’s closer to 210) Age 19, Bats left and throws right- Devers (rhymes with rev like revving an engine, I hear Deevers a lot) Devers was signed out the Dominican Republic for $1.5 Mil in August of 2013. Probably the highest profile name on the list Devers has been a fixture on top 100 prospect lists the last year or so. He’s got a long swing, with above average bat speed. The bat stays in the zone a really long time so he’s not as easily fooled by spin. An aggressive approach when he’s right he’s letting the ball travel deep and hammering the ball up the middle and the other way. Greenville has the same dimensions as Fenway with triangle in right center. Devers absolutely smoked a line drive to right center and it hit the top of the fence at the 410′ sign, I couldn’t believe the park held it and I don’t think the ball dropped 6″ all the way out there, 18 year olds don’t hit the ball that hard. When I saw that he was guaranteed inclusion on this list. He’s inconsistent right now but the tools are massive. Devers will be headed to the Carolina league (Salem Red Sox) in 2016
Here we get lots of great looks at Devers swing courtesy of Fangraphs
KJ Woods, (1B) 6’3″ 230 lbs, Age 20, Bats left and throws right- Woods was drafted by the Marlins in the 4th round of the 2013 draft from Ft Mill High School, Ft Mill, SC (Charlotte, NC area). Woods had a nice coming out party this year slugging 18 home runs and sporting a .218 ISO. He’s a strong young man with easy power, he’s got an open stance above average bat speed and he sprays the ball around the yard. He put the ball in the air 27% of the time in 2015. He’s young and raw with big time tools but he doesn’t always pick up spin and probably needs a better two strike approach. He made strides this year and he’ll be an interesting player to watch develop. He should be with the Jupiter Hammerheads in 2016.
Here we get a good look at KJ’s swing courtesy of Hoppin Fun
It was a lot of fun watching each of these big boppers swing the bat this season, and I’ll be keeping an eye on there progress in 2016 and beyond. I’ll be back soon with a look at Justin Twine.